#WomenInGeothermal Yvonne Wanambiro

Designation:  Manager – Drilling Planning and Logistics

How did you get into engineering/science? Growing up Mathematics and Science came easy.  I also had a father who was an engineer and therefore spending time at his workshop made the choice to pursue a career in engineering a no brainer.

Engineers use skills in mathematics and science to solve problems through detailed analysis, research, invent, innovate, design, and build products that are used in everyday life.

I studied Chemical engineering which involves turning raw materials into finished goods. Chemical engineering is everywhere from food production, soap, toothpaste, refining oil, etc. It is exciting to see real-world products that were designed in the lab scaled up to a large scale. It is a career with very wide prospects.

The skills and principles learned in engineering allows you to choose a technical, fieldwork, research or move to management roles

The most memorable moment in your engineering/science journey at GDC?  The day the 1A well was opened in Menengai is unforgettable. It affirmed the fact that there was an enormous resource.

What is the future of geothermal energy in the world?  Currently, geothermal energy, an indigenous renewable energy, lags behind solar and wind energy in terms of usage.

The technology to tap into this energy is relatively simple and widely understood, where geothermal wells are efficiently drilled, steam and hot water from the earth’s crust rises up and is captured and used to run an electric generator. Thus, geothermal energy has the potential to be the reliable baseload power as it is not affected by the vagaries of weather.  

Kenya is endowed with an abundance of geothermal energy and although it requires high upfront investment costs to harness, the running costs of geothermal power are much lower thus giving power consumers relief in power bills.

Also, localized geothermal energy direct use applications which include grain drying, warming greenhouses, fish ponds and milk pasteurization enhance the use of this energy in the future providing local development opportunities for communities living around geothermal areas.

What message would you send to young women thinking of taking up engineering/science courses and careers?  Girls are made to believe that science and maths are hard which isn’t the case is. They need to be encouraged to have confidence in their intellectual abilities.

There is a skills shortage in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) world over and women remain critically underrepresented in these fields. The engineering field, though rigorous and demanding, gives opportunities to make a difference in the world.

The diverse and fascinating opportunities of the future in research, renewable energy, mobile technology, automation, data science, electric vehicles will require skilled scientists and engineers.

What is your mantra in life as a woman in science?  Showing up is half the battle. Show up intellectually and put in the work even when you don’t feel like it, when you scared, when you are not sure, just show up. Because you never know where you’ll get your next opportunity, idea, mentor, friend.

Which woman in Science do you admire most?  Indra Nooyi

Why do you admire her?  Indra Nooyi has been named by Forbes and Fortune Magazines as one of the most powerful women in the world numerous times.

She was born into a middle-class family in Chennai, India and as a woman in a conservative society she refused to adhere to the restrictive norms of society. She gained a Bachelor’s degree in Physics Mathematics and Chemistry from University of Madras and a Post Graduate Diploma from Indian Institute of Management Calcutta. She then moved to the USA after admission to Yale School of Management and earned a Master’s Degree in Public and Private Management. She worked in various roles eventually becoming the longest serving CEO of PepsiCo for 12 years.

A daughter, wife, mother and a trailblazer, she broke the glass ceiling for women without compromising her integrity. In her second act she is mentoring women to leadership and senior roles and is a member of various boards including Amazon.

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