We were very happy to introduce Lillian Nseula and FemEng due to their shared interests in STEM and mentoring young girls in Malawi.
Lillian Nseula, pictured right, studied Energy Management and Economics at The University of Strathclyde and is now the Founder and CEO of Womenergy265.
FemEng in Malawi is an international outreach collaboration between the University of Glasgow and Malawi University of Science and Technology. Female engineering students from both universities will work together to develop and deliver workshops to promote STEM education in Malawi. The aim is to increase the number of female students pursuing STEM careers in Malawi and provide a network for students in STEM courses.
Read FemEng's interview with Lillian below.
Name: Lillian Nseula
From: Blantyre, Malawi
Year of Graduation: 2019
Current Role: Founder and CEO of Womenenergy265
1. What did you study at University?
I studied Energy Management and Economics at the University of Strathclyde.
2. What inspired you to follow this career path?
Malawi is among one the countries that does not perform well according to the World Energy Council’s trilemma index ranking. Additionally, it is considered as one of Africa’s energy poverty hotspots with women often facing persistent challenges in energy access which limits them from participating in socio-economic activities to pursue income generating activities. As an energy and development economist, I would like to positively contribute towards bringing down the persistent gender barriers and reinforce sustainable development through affordable, reliable and clean energy.
3. Tell us about projects you’ve been working on recently
I am passionate about uplifting lives particularly those of women and youth in peri-urban and rural areas while also contributing towards the achievement of SDG7 and various other interlinked SDGs. Currently, I am working on various renewable energy projects such as Clean Cooking, Bio-CNG for lighting and Renewable energy for agriculture.
4. How do you wish to use your knowledge and skills to impact your community?
Most of my work involves working closely with private companies, local and international NGOs where I am able to apply my skills and knowledge acquired through education and work experience and volunteering. Most of my work involves energy policy for advocacy, RE technologies and investments and energy access for social and economic development.
5. Are there female role models in STEM you look up to?
Kersti Berge, Director for Energy and Climate Change, the Scottish Government and Damilola Ogunbiyi, CEO and Special representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All and Co-chair of the UN-Energy.
6. What advice would you give to young girls pursuing careers in STEM?
My advice to young girls pursuing a career in STEM is that they should deny false stereotypes but rather try things that they’ve never tried before because they do not know where it might take them or help realise their full potential.
7. Have you ever been in the minority whilst studying / working in STEM and how did you deal with that?
Growing up, I wasn’t one of the brightest students both in primary or secondary school. Much to my surprise, I started getting the top grades in most of the modules while studying Mass Communication at Edith Cowan University in Perth, West Australia. I guess one would say that I was a late bloomer.
8. What have you been doing during COVID and what are your future plans in the coming years?
As we all know, the pandemic has come with innumerable and unique challenges.
For me, it has been of one my busiest times since completing my MSc In Global Energy Management and Economics.
I have been quite busy working a number of few renewable energy projects during pandemic. One of them being the cookstove project which I found exciting and very challenging as I don’t come from an engineering background. I have from my experience learnt that, sometimes when it looks so demanding, you don’t need to give up but rather learn from the few mistakes to get the results and develop the grit.
9. What is your favourite design/invention and why?
One of my favourite inventions is the wind turbine designed by Willian Kamkwamba aka the boy who harnessed the wind. What got me so fascinated about the invention is the fact that Willian had no experience, internet access or skillset or equipment to design a windmill that powered multiple electrical appliances in his house and other houses in his village. He did not let his situation limit him from impacting other people’s lives.
10. Plans for the future?
One of my short goal is to start a Youth Sustainable Hub in Malawi where we will have pool of young talented individuals (male and female) who will work together to come up with local solutions to address the myriad of social and economic challenges neglected by society, market economies and dysfunctional institutions.
11. What you want to achieve with regards to STEM?
In Malawi, we have very few young women who participate in STEM subjects one of the reasons being that of supportive network to help boost their confidence.
Through the STEM mentorship program, I plan on working in partnership with various stakeholders to inspire the young women in Malawi to go into science, technology, engineering and math careers. This I hope, will help close the STEM gender gap that exists in society so that women can reach their full potential and serve leadership roles in STEM workforce.