Volahasina Rasendramalala, Global Sourcing Manager for Energy, never lets big changes discourage her. This is why she was fueled with passion while working with her team to transfer most European sites to 100% green electricity from renewable energy sources.
Global Sourcing Manager for Energy Volahasina Rasendramalala, Vola for short, is used to big changes, as you’ll be able to conclude from her unique life story. Born in Madagascar, a place she says enjoys 80% endemic flora and fauna, she grew to love and appreciate nature and science. “As a child, I was (and still am) a quiet person. I loved spending time by myself, exploring my surroundings, playing an explorer, researcher or journalist. I studied in an all-girl school until high school. Thanks to that, I do not see gender as an issue. We were allowed to be ourselves, the sky was the limit. I wanted to be a lot of things growing up, but my first choices were either a biologist or something more physics-oriented. I opted for the second choice since I wanted to continue doing mathematics.
After high school, Vola received a scholarship to study in Russia, and although this took her far away from home and to a whole different world, she embraced the opportunity. This is when her gender first became an issue. “I initially signed up to study aeronautics, but my application was declined because I was a girl, and it was a ‘male only’ faculty.” Vola decided to study general and electrical engineering instead. This turn of events may sound upsetting to modern ears, but Vola says that she is actually glad it happened, since she is very happy with how things turned out.
How did such a young woman manage to handle such a considerable change in her life? “The first two years (out of the six I lived in Russia) were difficult,” Vola remembers, “but I noticed people did not mind where I came from as long as I did not mind it. It taught me that everybody is the same, but also that we need to acknowledge the subtle differences in culture and respect them.”
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Later on, Vola also found herself studying in France, and she is now based in the Netherlands. But even after years of again and again having to adjust to new cultures and languages, Vola does not feel she has had a particularly hard time: “I do not think there were specific obstacles I had to overcome that others didn’t. The difference lies in how you decide to take on the challenge and if you have a good support system in case you fall down.”