International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women.

To celebrate International Women’s Day 2021 we spoke to four of the women working at Guru about their involvement with the District Heating Divas – the group for women working in the heat networks industry. As well as hosting monthly meetups across five different UK regions, the District Heating Divas also supports the Heat Exchanger Mentoring Programme set up by Guru’s very own Chief Operations Officer Nicky Butterworth – a mentoring programme for women (but open to men) working in heat networks.

Georgina Orso – Marketing Manager

Georgina Orso

Being part of District Heating Divas not only allows me to build my network, but also gives me a fantastic opportunity to learn more about the industry from a huge variety of perspectives. Each meetup I learn something new, from how heat networks are designed to stories from people living in the buildings they supply. It’s also great to have a cup of tea (or a cocktail with the Young District Heating Divas) and a chat with people who understand what you’re working towards.

The industry is growing quickly, and so are the number of women involved in District Heating Divas. There were almost 300 of us at the online conference in late 2020. Because of this, I offered to build districtheatingdivas.com so we can share what we’re doing with even more people. Being involved in the website has allowed me to build even better relationships with some really incredible women who in turn can inspire me to learn more or help to fast track my professional development.

This year I’m taking part in the Heat Exchanger Mentoring Programme set up by the District Heating Divas but open to anyone in the industry. I’m a mentor, but also, for the first time in my career, I have my own mentor. Through this I hope to challenge myself, learn even more, and also try and line up a few site visits! Guru’s technology goes into buildings right before residents move in, but through my mentor I’m determined to see pipes go into the ground before 2021 is out!

Nicky Butterworth – Chief Operations Officer

Nicky Butterworth

Personal development is really important to me and being in a supportive environment is key in my choice of employer, which is why I chose to work at Guru. I want to help foster an environment that supports people through their career journey, wherever that may take them.

As well as line managers and potential employers presenting me with opportunities in my career, such as my promotion from Head of Operations to Chief Operations Officer at Guru, mentoring has also been a key part of my development. I was lucky enough to have a mentor for much of my time working in the heat networks team in the Civil Service. This carved out a dedicated space to reflect on events that had recently gone well and what I could learn from what had gone badly.

Chatting to people in the industry, as I was leaving BEIS in 2019, I realised that not everyone had this opportunity. So against the backdrop of an industry considering the skills gaps that predicted growth might create, and utilising the energy and support of the District Heating Divas, I set up the Heat Exchanger Mentoring Programme. Now in its second year, it has matched 67 mentor pairs.

In both years I have been a Heat Exchanger mentor, but this year I am delighted to also be a mentee again. I am excited to have another avenue to help me develop as a leader. Whilst I have huge support for personal development at Guru, through management and peers, being part of a mentoring pair provides you with dedicated career and personal development time.

As well as mentoring I would recommend the District Heating Divas network to all women in the industry. I joined early in 2019 and have been thrilled to see how the network has organically grown to hundreds of members. I really enjoy the informal style, the focus on building relationships and the distilled one hour monthly format. Having worked in the sector for over 10 years, I see it as an indicator of the sector maturing, that we can attract and retain a greater diversity of people with a wide range of experience and expertise.

Katherine Fish – Client Success Manager

Katherine Fish

When I joined Guru just over a year ago district heating was completely new to me, so being part of the District Heating Divas has been a great way for me to expand my knowledge and build a bigger picture of the industry as a whole. It has been a really useful way to network and put faces to names, especially during this year where in person meetings have not been possible. The Divas create a relaxed environment where you can drop into meetings around your schedule and it’s always really welcoming and a lovely way to chat to new people.

This year I am taking part in the Heat Exchanger network programme for the first time. I wanted to take part in order to build my understanding of Heat Networks and am delighted to have been partnered with a brilliant mentor. As a Client Success Manager, my role involves speaking with people in different areas of the industry and I hope that by having a much better and broader understanding of the heat network industry, that I can in turn have a better understanding of my clients experiences.

Heather Salvador – Supply Chain Specialist

Heather Salvador

I’ve been working at Guru for more than five years, but certain parts of the industry are still new to me. I’m involved with the District Heating Divas to build my understanding and learn from other leaders in the heat networks market.

I joined the Heat Exchanger Mentoring Programme so that I could build insight and expertise by working with someone who has firsthand experience, as well as learn from that person’s leadership and knowledge.

Dropping into the London District Heating Divas monthly meetup is a great way to start the day, especially as I know that they’ll always be other Guru team members on the call!

To find out more about the District Heating Divas, visit https://www.districtheatingdivas.com/