It’s 2020, and the cleantech industry is becoming more and more diverse. Women are leading the development and commercialization of innovative technologies. Successful and inspiring women take high-level leadership positions, creating new technologies that are changing the world. Today, Terragon’s women share their stories and experiences in this interview.
1- Theodora Alexakis, Ph.D. Chemical Engineering.
Dr. Alexakis has more than 25 years of experience in technology development, and is currently the Vice-President of Business Development at Terragon. She has contributed to the development of innovative environmental technologies including MAGS. She currently leads the commercialization of Terragon’s environmental technologies which focus on the recovery of resources (energy and clean water) from waste streams (solid and liquid). Besides being a mom of 3 children, Theodora’s achievements are numerous, receiving several innovation awards and co-authoring numerous scientific publications.
Connect with Theodora on LinkedIn here.
Why did you choose a career in cleantech?
When I was in university, I distinctly recall a moment when my 80-year old professor teaching “Air Pollution Control” said that his course was very popular with female students because “cleaning” comes naturally to women. Of course, I was appalled and found his statement to be quite sexist at the time, but his words stayed with me for my entire adult life. Having pursued graduate degrees in Biotechnology (M.Eng.) and Plasma Technology (PhD), I did not choose a career path in Clean Tech; it chose me; and I am very glad it did! As an engineer, a woman, and a mother of three kids, I feel a strong sense of responsibility to keep our planet “clean”, a sentiment also shared by many men too!
I have been dedicated to the development of waste-to-energy technologies for over 25 years and am quite proud of the contributions that I have made in collaboration with my fellow colleagues, both male and female. Working in the field of clean tech has been personally and professionally rewarding. To my old professor, who has since passed away, thank you for introducing me to the field so many years ago!
2- Polytime Tsantrizos, Vice-President, Administration.
Ms. Tsantrizos has over 20 years of experience in the areas of accounting, contract management, human resources and office administration. She has led Terragon’s Administration and Human Resources departments since the start of the company and through the transition and scale up. Polytime is a mom of 2 teenagers. She is known to be kindhearted, a unique qualification to address the challenges facing the business, and a key characteristic for success in the world we live in.
Connect with Polytime on LinkedIn here.
How do your work and professional achievements keep you empowered as a woman?
I have been privileged to work in an environment surrounded by strong female professionals and one that encourages and promotes women in the workforce. Over the years, consistency, dedication and a strong work ethic have been the key factors leading to my professional achievements. Being empowered as a professional woman comes from confidence, and confidence comes with experience and the ability to be analytical and calm. As a woman and a mother of two children, I am most proud of being able to balance the challenges of a fast growing, small Technologies company while facing those of a mother raising her family.
3- Karolina Apland, Regulation Department & Ph.D. Student.
Ms. Apland is an expert in the field of environmental assessment, regulations, technology permitting and standardization. Her career achievements include MAGS validation and standard development for marine and land-based applications in collaboration with many organizations and countries, a must for the successful commercialization of this technology. Karolina is a mom to a 3 year old boy, and currently pursuing a PhD at Concordia University. Her research interests are barriers to clean technology uptake and diffusion, technology and climate change, as well as the role of technology in the circular economy.
Connect with Karolina on LinkedIn here.
Name a skill, personality trait, or strength that you consider a key for your success and leadership position:
Recently, I walked into a conference room to give a presentation with my female colleague. The entire room was filled with middle aged men, the only other woman present aside from my colleague and I was the secretary of the conference director. This is still the reality for many women today, so I would say the most important trait a woman must embody to succeed is perseverance. Women are faced with challenges that their male counterparts do not have to experience, but with perseverance there is success and with challenge there is growth. Ladies, embrace every obstacle, break down walls and marvel at the heights you can reach.
PS, we gave the most interesting presentation of that day😉.
4- Ramona Pristavita, Ph.D. Chemical Engineering.
Dr. Pristavita has worked for 13 years in technology development, mostly focused on plasma and nanotechnologies. Dr. Pristavita is now the Director of Product Development at Terragon. Her career highlights include the development of three innovative award-winning electrochemical wastewater treatment technologies, our WETT-O, WETT-S and WETT-G products. Ramona is also a loving mom to an 8 year old daughter, and loves to travel with her family.
Connect with Ramona on LinkedIn here.
Successful women are known to be purpose-driven. How do you make a difference as a woman, daughter, mom, partner, and as a professional working in clean tech?
Everything I do in my life, including in my professional life, I do it for my family. When making decisions, I ask myself how this would impact my family, or any family.