Iva Draganovska - Commercial O&M Manager

Meet Iva Draganovska, an adventurous spirit with a deep passion for renewable energy. She recently acquired her PhD in the field, demonstrating her dedication to both academic excellence and her career at Solarpro, where she is a Commercial O&M Manager. Through creativity and effective communication, she plays a key role in driving the commercial success of our O&M activities in the ever-changing PV sector. Outside of work, she enjoys travelling the world and staying active with multiple sports in order to maintain a good work-life balance. Learn more about her journey below.

You recently acquired your PhD, congratulations! What drew you to pursuing further academic education while also working full time on your career?
Thank you for the kind words! Acquiring a PhD degree was indeed a significant achievement in my professional path. My decision to pursue academic education was driven by a strong interest in the renewable energy field which is equally firmly related to my professional career.
Balancing full-time work and academic pursuits was undoubtedly a challenging endeavor, but practicing self-care and maintaining a balance between work, academics, and personal life proved essential to avoid burnout. At the end of the journey, I can say that it was also incredibly rewarding and refreshing.

What is it like being a woman in a managerial position in the PV sector?
The engineering field, including the renewable energy industry, particularly the PV sector, has traditionally been male-dominated. As a woman and an engineer in a managerial position, one may encounter challenges related to stereotypes and prejudices, making it an uphill battle to break through the glass ceiling and unconscious biases.
It is essential to be aware of these challenges and find constructive ways to address them.

Tell us more about your role in Solarpro
As the Commercial O&M Manager, my role may vary depending on the nature of projects and the current focus of the company, which is closely tied to the fluctuations within the solar industry. However, my primary goal is to drive commercial success and to actively contribute to the growth and profitability of the Operation and Maintenance department within Solarpro.

How does an average day on the job look like for you?
My daily schedule depends from the specific and ongoing projects. As my role plays a crucial part in driving business growth, managing client relations, and ensuring the successful operation of PV projects, it demands active involvement in creative problem-solving and decision-making to address issues and maintain operational continuity.
In some days my daily routine may look like reviewing emails, messages, providing guidance and support to the team, and tackling any challenges they encounter. In other days it may starts with meetings with PV projects stakeholders to review the progress or engage in contract reviewing, analyzing projects KPI.

What are the most important skills to bring to your position?
Creativity, flexibility, and effective communication to me are the key skills that drive success and build a positive reputation and instill confidence in both clients and team members.

What are the most common challenges you face in your work?
Adapting to market trends is definitely crucial. The constantly growing PV sector, technological advancements, and evolving client preferences demand extensive knowledge and continuous alignment with the best industry practices to successfully navigate the complexities of the market.

When did you start working in Solarpro?
I started working in Solarpro five years ago – it was a natural decision in pursuing my professional path in the renewable energy sector.

Why did you choose solar energy? What motivates you to work within the renewable sector?
In short, solar energy is becoming an increasingly viable and attractive alternative to conventional energy sources.
My interest in the renewable energy sector began during my last year at the University, when installations for energy production from renewable sources, especially solar energy, were scarce in Bulgaria. As time passed, my motivation to pursue a career in this field only grew stronger. The renewable energy sector offers a wide range of roles, spanning from engineering and project management to finance, marketing, and policy development.

How do you think the PV industry will change in the next few years?
It is difficult to predict, but important to note that the PV industry is subject to various factors, including technological advancements, market dynamics, government policies, and global energy trends. Potential changes may arise from advancements in solar panel efficiency, cost reduction, energy storage technology integration, and the rise of decentralized energy generation using PV systems. Additionally, the integration of the Internet of Things (IoT) can play a significant role in improving monitoring, maintenance, and performance optimization of solar installations.

What advice would you give to someone looking to start a job in renewables / to start a job in your position?
Accept the challenge!

What are your interests outside of work?
Travelling the world! In fact, my list of hobbies is quite long, with most of them related to sports: from skiing and snowboarding to windsurfing through regular gym exercises and yoga. For me, staying active in any form is the key to a balanced life.

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