(Women on Top in Tech is a series about Women Founders, CEOs, and Leaders in technology. It aims to amplify and bring to the fore diversity in leadership in technology.)
Here is our interview with Rosemary Romanos, a Lebanese entrepreneur, who offers rural communities in Lebanon a capital-free electrification program. Rosemary is the CEO and Co-Founder of SunRay Energy.
What makes you do what you do?
Passion and love for my country is what makes me do what I do. I work my heart out to lift up my country! Seeing Lebanon on the map of the world as developed and advanced country is what I aspire to see. Hence, solving the electricity crisis by adopting cutting-edge renewable energy solutions and innovative micro-financing mechanisms are for me like killing 2 birds within 1 stone.
How did you rise in the industry you are in?
I re-entered this industry after having completed my electrical and computer engineering degree when my current co-founder asked me to work with him. My inherent inquisitive nature to explore knowledge made me stick with this industry. Today, my persistence and conviction are paying off.
Why did you take on this role/start this startup especially since this is perhaps a stretch or challenge for you (or viewed as one since you are not the usual leadership demographics)?
Being an entrepreneur has always been a dream of mine. It takes a lot of courage to not only start your own company but also be a woman doing that in Lebanon. I dream of a better world, lead a team of highly motivated young individuals, and develop a solution for energy efficiency. That’s the fuel that keeps me going.
Do you have a mentor that you look up to in your industries or did you look for one or how did that work?
Initially, when my current partner asked me to work with him, he was my mentor because he supported with first my entrepreneurial route and also helped me understand the technical challenges in the renewable energy industry because he has been previously working on it.
Also, I tried looking for other mentors and more specifically successful women in business who had created and led successful businesses in Lebanon. I was very lucky to find 2 of them, Miss Samar Layoun and Miss Ryme Assaad who were very excited to mentor me, support me and help me out.
How did you make a match and how did you end up being mentored by him?
I met Samar when I applied to the Blessing Foundation mentoring program. One of their programs is to match women mentor with another woman for a whole year in order to work together. More Information here.
I met Ryme at a competition for women entrepreneur (WeMENA), we were both participants, we then became friends and we have been since working and supporting each other.
Now as a leader how do you spot, develop, keep, grow and support your talent?
I strongly believe that you have to give first in order to get. I am grateful for everyone that helped me get to where I am and for that, I have an open door policy. Anyone who wants my help is welcomed, I give my email publicly and hold meetings for whoever wants to meet with me. After every meeting, I give feedback and a small homework to those asking for help if they come back with their homework I will help them further. For instance, I could share with them a personal connection, set meetings, and recommend a book or an online class.
Do you consciously or unconsciously support diversity and why?
I consciously support diversity and I enjoy working with a mix diverse set of people from different backgrounds, who can bring a flavor of new ideas and different aspects. I believe that any human being with strong ethics and hard work deserves a chance. I support women and anyone persecuted for who they are.
What is your take on what it takes to be a great leader in your industry and as a general rule of thumb?
Strong integrity, honesty and ethics are crucial traits. Great leaders empower people with a compelling vision and clear goals. They also inspire confidence in people by identifying the driving forces that are shaping the future.
Advice for others?
It might sound cliché, but I advise anyone to follow his or her dreams, smartly of course. I am not asking people to quit their jobs tomorrow, but to strategically draft plan of action for a future they like to see, have and leave. I also totally believe that everything you set your mind into, you can accomplish. The limitations you might think of being sometimes only in your head, with perseverance and persistence anything is possible. Hard work pays off!
To learn more about SunRay Energy, please see http://sunrayenergy.me/.
I am a huge fan and cheerleader of Women Leaders — If you know of an AMAZING Woman Founder, CEO, Leader in Tech or you are one yourself — Write me here.
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This article was co-written with Mariem Khemir.