Q&A With Annabel Sall, CEO, ThinkPR

Annabel Sall, CEO of ThinkPR,
Annabel Sall, CEO of ThinkPR, discusses how communications aid the energy transition and the importance of diversity in leadership.

Why did you choose a career in the energy industry?

I’m not sure I chose it, I feel like it chose me! Growing up I was very aware of the energy sector all around me in the North-east of Scotland – my dad was a helicopter pilot for the offshore sector and I did my degree at RGU in Aberdeen. Setting up ThinkPR, supporting businesses based in Aberdeen but working globally resulted in me naturally focusing on the energy industry. 

My career has spanned across the changes witnessed by the energy sector and as part of this, also the importance of how we communicate what the industry is working on to aid the energy transition. I am fortunate enough to work with really exciting and innovative firms that provide solutions and technology to aid this journey too.

Being able to communicate the work our clients do is a really rewarding part of the job and something that I feel is incredibly important. Our role as marketing experts and communicators plays an essential part of raising awareness of the industry.

The new energy sector is rapidly evolving, what do you think we can expect to see in the next three, five, and ten years?

My focus as a communicator is to support the innovators who are in the industry working towards our aim of net zero. It is essential we talk about the technology and expertise that is being developed and also the need for collaboration and sharing of knowledge – this is where events such as Women in New Energy make a difference. 

Working with companies who focus on new energy, I can see that in the short term, the energy sector is going to need to continue to deliver during a potential energy security issue. We need more investment into renewables and bringing both new and conventional energy into one overall offering.

As we shift toward renewables as demand grows, and as we move towards net zero, we need to ramp up investment and combat the pressure to deliver the transition too quickly. The sector must be seen as an attractive investment and with this, the people that work in it too. Continuing to highlight the importance of diversity, equality and inclusion (DEI) as well as attracting the younger generation to the sector is essential.

I feel more will need to be done to ‘voice’ the solutions the industry holds as we focus on new energy, supporting the workforce and encouraging new talent and expertise into it too.

What would you say is the biggest challenge you face in your role?

For me personally, I’ve always worked in a male-dominated sector as the energy industry has always been this way. Coupled with the label of a ‘PR girl’ (in my younger years!), I’ve had to work hard to be taken seriously in some situations. However, after 20 years of business, I feel confident in my own ability and knowledge and I’ve been fortunate to work with some amazing men and women who support me on my own journey too.

Within my role in marketing, the challenge will be how we communicate what the industry is doing and the solutions that exist to the wider audience (younger people, educators, investors). The media landscape is constantly evolving and we must communicate the correct message, especially to the younger generation entering the industry.

Why do you think diversity within the new energy sector is important?

Diversity is a critical aspect in every team, regardless of the sector. We all contribute different thinking, solutions, and knowledge to challenges and opportunities so having a diverse team and community around you can only create a positive environment.

As a Board Director of Autism & Neurodiversity North Scotland (A-ND) I’m learning more and more about how essential diversity and inclusion are in leadership. If our leaders are embracing and celebrating diversity this will filter down into our teams and those entering the industry too.

What advice would you give to women considering a career in new energy?

There is much more being done to encourage further diversity and support women in the industry but there will always be room for improvement. Even this year, new DEI initiatives such as the Energy Leaders Coalition help support diversity and shows that it’s a positive time to enter the sector – representation is progressing.

Finding a mentor who you respect and can learn from is something I would advise – during W.I.N.E we learnt about the men and women that have helped support the industry, especially those developing in their career. It can have a hugely positive impact if you have someone by your side that you can lean on, learn from and celebrate your successes with!

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