By Charndré Emma Kippie
In 2019 Kiren Maharaj assumed her role of Managing Director at GIBB Holdings Pty Ltd. – a multi-disciplinary engineering consultancy company. Her highly-celebrated appointment has led to various innovative developments, enhancing the South African Energy Mix. Today, she is also the well-respected Chairperson of the South African National Energy Association (SANEA).
Upon taking up her new role, Group CEO of GIBB Pty Ltd, Richard Vries, commented “We are fortunate to have Kiren lead GIBB Power, which is the entry point to the entire power solutions value chain that GIBB and EDF offer. We welcome her to GIBB Power and wish her all the best.”
He added that, “With her at the helm, we believe the combined effect between EDF and GIBB’s expertise will pave the way to increasing our activities in the power market in Africa. In addition, GIBB Power will enable EDF Group to identify, screen and develop greenfield projects in Africa, which, for GIBB, adds unique value, not only to projects, but to the benefit of the communities in which we serve”.
Entrepreneur meets energy sector
Thus far, Kiren has established herself as a leading professional within the power and energy landscape, as well as within management consultancy, having fulfilled various high-level roles inside of leading companies in the South African energy sector, such as Eskom.
A woman of many talents, Kiren is also a well-known entrepreneur, having started her own start-up ventures as a way to make the most of opportunities and the potential of the energy landscape. In 2016, she co-founded Trenex (Pty) Ltd – a power services and investment company that plays the role of an active partner in all investments by providing operations and maintenance, EPC and asset management services to clients during the entire life cycle of large scale power projects.
Prior to her professional career success, Kiren completed a BCompt Degree at UNISA. She then went on to complete a Postgraduate Degree, MBA, at Wits Business School. She also completed a Certificate Programme in Leadership Coaching at Wits Business School, in 2017, which includes volunteer coaching for current MBA students.
Women in energy
As a dynamic leader, with experience that spans over more than two decades, Kiren has acquired exemplary strategic, management and operational expertise in the energy field. Thus far, she has been involved in multiple game-changing projects and initiatives across the energy value-chain.
Kiren has been instrumental in launching an energy trading and auctioning system that facilitates internal power pool trading. She has, additionally, led a company-wide cost re-engineering initiative geared towards identifying potential cost savings, productivity and organisational enhancements in a highly-lucrative company.
Just last August, she was a special guest at the Women in Energy Webinar, hosted by the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE), in partnership with the Petroleum Agency of South Africa (PASA) and SANEA. The DMRE’s Women’s Month commemorative event was attended by more than 200 delegates. As Chairperson of SANEA, Kiren spoke on the impact of Covid-19 on women and business during her keynote address.
Key points made By Maharaj:
- Shifting the risk landscape is identified as a key mechanism to realise South Africa’s “New Gold Rush” and to grow the sector and the economy.
- Women in the energy sector must play a key role in the just energy transition and build on existing efforts, using our best minds, and leveraging our diversity.
Opportunities for the future
In her recent discussion, as part of the #CriticalInfrastructureSA Series, Kiren addressed climate changes and energy supply in South Africa. She also addressed ‘The Carbon Question’ and the urgent need for ‘balancing the need for reducing emissions with our current Energy Mix’.
Kiren admitted that The Carbon Question can only be approached, right now, “with great difficulty”.
“If it was easy, it would have been done already”, she continued. “For a country like South Africa, if we just think about not having coal-fired power generation, it impacts Eskom and the power stations themselves; it impacts the coal mining industry, towns that survive on the power station and a coal mine; it impacts the businesses in those towns. So, it has far-reaching consequences. It’s not just a simple answer”, exclaimed Maharaj.
“This doesn’t mean it’s not important… Everything in life can be seen as a problem or an opportunity”, Kiren continues as she highlights positive outcomes in the energy sector.
Some burning questions for Kiren right now revolve around how to “Create new energy options, still be able to supply electricity, while doing it with a lower carbon footprint – that’s what’s important”, she said.
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