If someone had told me 20 years ago that one day I will be where I am now, I would have laughed. In fact, most of the things I do or am today, I have denied one way or another in the past. So, let’s start from the beginning. I grew up in Thessaloniki, Greece. My family used to manage a residential petrol distribution company – but back then the concept of energy was not in my thoughts for a career. Me, in the energy sector? Never!
Thinking about choosing my field after school, economics was always appealing for me with the options of studying at the University in my hometown, or in Pretoria, South Africa, where my dad’s family resided for years. As an 18-year-old, I didn’t want to relocate, and thus I studied hard and got a place at the University of Macedonia. Me, in South Africa? Never!
A few years later, I accepted the invitation to come to South Africa to continue with my Masters. My plan was to study monetary economics and work in a commercial bank. South Africa’s first big wave of power cuts found me doing my Masters and being more curious than ever. Me, doing postgraduate studies? Never! My curiosity and inherent need to find solutions for societal problems led me to continue with my PhD with specialization in energy economics. Me, doing research and teaching in academia? Never!
And from there onwards, one thing led to the next, one opportunity to the next, and here I am today an Energy Economist and Professor at the University of Pretoria, living in South Africa for 15 years now (#GreekwithanAfricanHeart), married with two lovely boys (my pride and my reason), not only working in the energy sector, not only teaching and doing research, but also loving it, enjoying it and encouraging others on how to do it.
I would tell #ThisLittleGirlIsMe to enjoy the ride and not stress. Science and academia are challenging but rewarding at the same time. Balancing my profession with my role as a mother always seemed impossible, but with patience, love for what I do and the most amazing people around me, it became do-able. I would advise this little girl to never say never… or maybe do say never, because only then the beautiful things in life will become a reality.