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Mercia Grimbeek

What did I need to learn to do this job?

Biology was my favourite subject at school. When I was older, I went to the University of Cape Town in South Africa to study finance for three years. Later I went back to university to study environmental science.

For my job you need strong analytical skills (figuring things out) and to be good at problem solving and communication.

Mercia Grimbeek, 45, South Africa.

Head of Project Development at ENERTRAG

I dreamt of a job that didn’t exist

My job is to make sure my company has all the right permits to build wind farms. When I was little this job did not exist, but I am very glad that it does now! Today, working in the wind industry is my dream job because it does not feel like a job. It’s fun. In particular, I enjoy going to the places where we want to put wind turbines and meeting the local landowners and residents.

With the landowners, I talk about how long it will take to get the permits we need and we establish a relationship talking about their families and their farms. Landowners are always curious about the wind turbines, how big they are, how they work, how much power they produce.

In South Africa, we are very lucky to have lots of space and lots of wind, and so it is generally easy to get permission to put up wind turbines. When we need to convince people, we explain to them how good wind energy is for our country and our planet. We also make sure they understand that wind turbines do not harm nature if they are built in the right way.

I became interested in renewable energy 11 years ago when the industry first started in South Africa. One of the most amazing experiences is climbing up a wind turbine; it feels like you are standing on top of the world.

I have twins and they couldn’t believe how big the turbines are when I took them to visit a wind farm. They said they looked like giants standing in the wheat field and that they reminded them of the film “The Iron Giant”. They also loved the shape of the blades.

At home, we try to live a low-emissions lifestyle, walking to work and school instead of driving as much as we can. We grow many of the vegetables we eat and we plant lots of shrubs and trees in our garden.

I believe the world needs more green energy. The wind industry is very exciting and I want to be a part of a changing world. I also think it is very important we get more women working in the industry as only a fifth of employees in the wind energy sector are women.

When choosing the job you want to do, you should follow your dreams because sometimes the job you dream about is yet to be created. More generally in your life, think carefully about what you use and what you need. Our planet only has so much to give. It is important we give back to nature. Plant gardens and trees if you can.

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