Sarah Ouziaux, ENGIE Impact : Segment Manager - Regulated, Institutional & Multilateral Organizations – basée à Bruxelles

Sarah, what is your background?

After a double Master’s degree in France and England a number of years ago, I started my career in wastewater treatment in England. Then, I worked 2 years for Unicef in Denmark, before coming back to France, orienting my career towards the energy power plant sector and finally joining the Engie group in Belgium 12 years ago as a project manager and then business developer. For 2 years, I have been working on gender equality issues in the energy sector.

Why did you get involved in Energy Assistance?

By nature, I cannot fail to be involved in an association. At Tractebel, I envied the colleagues who left for Energy Assistance in Africa, I thought I was not up to the task, not being an electrician and not feeling able to wire panels and an inverter on my own. Then during a conversation with Tony Moens de Hase, General Manager of Energy Assistance Belgium I learned that Energy Assistance needed other skills than purely electrical skills and that I had a place in it. I seized the opportunity and joined EA Belgium!

What was the mission you carried out ?

In September, I was part of a team of 4 volunteers to set up 3 solar panel and battery installations – to allow the pediatric, maternity and laboratory departments of Saint Jean de Dieu Hospital in Boko to continue to operate despite power cuts. This mission was located in Parakou – in central Benin and 9 hours drive from Cotonou.

Your impressions?

My very first feeling was pride to be part of the group of volunteers with a little apprehension about the dynamic that was going to take hold. When we arrived in Benin, we were very well received and accompanied to the hospital where we were staying in a bungalow a little away from the main buildings.

I am extremely proud to have learned how to assemble panels and boxes, take charge of the preparation of colleagues’ activities by locating the wiring of the site, organize and coordinate carpenters and painters, discuss with the director and I was able to resolve some situations thanks to my contacts with the manager of Engie in Parakou in whom I discovered a beautiful person.

Obviously, there are also points for improvement, one of them concerns gender equality, a subject to which I am sensitive and I know that my role was eventually to serve as a role model. So since we also had to train 4 young people, I thought that it was a shame that none of them were young women.