One thing I have been noticing more and more is the number of women entering the field of Asset Investment Planning & Management (AIPM). In fact, many of Copperleaf’s clients are women who are taking a leading role in their organizations in planning and managing their asset investments more strategically, to minimize risk and create the highest value for their organizations.
Certainly the prevalence of women is not evident by attending an asset management conference…yet. But it occurred to me that this is a great role for women in a field where you might not expect to find many women! And I believe this is the beginning of an exciting trend and would like to highlight some of these women—and the interesting work they’re doing—to establish some role models and shine a light on this as a possible career path for young women.
In this first article, we are featuring Unnur Þorvaldsdóttir, head of asset management for Landsvirkjun, Iceland’s largest producer of electricity, and one of the ten largest renewable energy companies in Europe.
How did you get involved in the field of asset management?
I started at Landsvirkjun in 2007 and have held various positions within the company, all related to the operation of our power plants. Our fleet is getting older and even with effective maintenance practices, assets need to be renewed or refurbished before they reach the end of their useful life, or present a risk to public safety or the environment.
In 2012, the company established an Asset Management Department to put more focus on this area, and to establish an approach to making investment decisions based on probability of failure and associated risk. I have always loved a challenge and thought it would be very interesting to be involved in something so important, so I applied for the position when it was posted and have been focused on asset management ever since.
What attracted to this field?
Asset management is a field that combines the subjects I am interested in—engineering, finance and risk management.
What excites you most?
Asset management involves more or less all employees involved in energy production. What I like most is the fact that I get to work with people across the entire company—and see the whole picture. But if I had to choose one specific topic, I’d have to say risk management is very interesting, and is a huge component in our industry, so it gets a lot of my attention at the moment.
What are the most rewarding aspects of the work you do?
The most rewarding thing is having confidence that we are making the best decisions about our assets across their entire lifecycle.
Where are you and your team making the biggest impact?
We are continually trying to improve our processes. If I look at past years, I think implementing Copperleaf’s asset investment planning and management software, C55, changed our way of thinking. It has helped us prioritize our investments, so that we can make the right decisions at the right time, while making the best use of our resources. Overall, we now have greater confidence in our decision making, and our ability to plan for the future.
What do you think are the biggest challenges?
The human factor is always a big challenge, getting everyone to work towards the same goal. Sometimes we need to change things, or change how people are used to doing things, and it can be a challenge to get everyone up to speed and on board at the beginning of a journey.
Would you recommend asset management to other women as a career?
Yes, of course. Asset management is a very interesting and broad area that crosses different departments and involves a wide variety of people, so I believe everyone should be able to find their place.
In the coming months we plan to feature more women to showcase the contribution of women in this emerging field of asset management! I’d love to hear your feedback.