For Asta Vaitulevičė, participating in the Swedish Institute’s Management Programme helped her to gain the confidence to become a ‘changemaker’ in one of the world’s most challenging sectors – the energy industry.
As Head of Energy Efficiency for Lithuanian state-controlled energy company, AB Ignitis Group, Asta was looking to gain fresh perspectives on consumer behaviour and ways to better communicate with people on the issue of energy consumption.
Through the programme, she came to realise that gaining a deeper understanding of what motivates people in their energy use was the key to being able to positively influence their behaviour.
-I realised that there are lots of assumptions and stereotypes about energy consumption and energy efficiency, and that it is sometimes hard for people to reconcile the idea of being more responsible with energy consumption without reducing the comforts and expectations of their lives.
By applying design thinking methodology which she learned during the programme, Asta realised that those stereotypes and preconceptions needed to be taken into consideration when communicating to the public.
This approach is already making a positive difference. The first campaign Asta initiated after completing the programme – a Christmas campaign on responsible household energy consumption – generated a significant increase in audience engagement at the pilot stage.
The insights she gained from the programme were critical in looking at the challenge through fresh eyes.
-We created a campaign with messages very different to those we used to. We leveraged the idea that putting aside our computers and phones during Christmas is not only about responsible energy consumption, but about people spending time together. In this way, we completely switched around our strategy for communicating and how we approach clients, and it seems to work.
Increasing sustainability in energy use, however, can’t be achieved on just one level. Asta acknowledges that her industry needs to work with all levels of society, so she plans to initiate an educational programme which seeks to influence people’s attitudes during their formative years.
-I’d like to create a programme for schools, where schoolteachers and of course students can gain a better understanding of how they consume energy, looking at the problem from different angles. It’s not an easy thing to do, but with the skills and knowledge I obtained from the programme, I’m a lot more confident.
Asta says that the network of like-minded people from different countries she became part of at the Swedish Institute Management Programme, was another great advantage. Many of the people she formed connections with work in similar industries or face similar challenges in their roles and understand that major changes in the way the world consumes energy are critical – and inevitable.
-In our positions, we are all trying to initiate change, which raises the question: am I doing the right thing? These changes are not always welcomed by other people which can make it quite challenging but participating in the programme gave me a strong feeling that it’s actually okay to be a changemaker.