Electric Kiwi is not your typical power company, but we are a fairly typical bunch of Kiwis who come from all walks of life. It’s important to us that our business is representative of the country we live in – and one of our manifesto commitments is to create a workplace in which everyone feels free to be themselves.

We also operate in a highly tech-driven industry where we’re constantly innovating and problem-solving to make things better for our customers (and all Kiwis), especially in respect of the green energy transition and limiting the environmental impact of the essential service we provide… Basically, we’re a bunch of tech geeks who care about the planet and want a respectful and inclusive workplace.

In that spirit, we’re delighted to introduce you to Shahnaz Baldwin – recipient of the Electric Kiwi-AUT Women in STEM Scholarship.

Last year, we developed a partnership with the AUT Women in STEM community to help bridge the gap between study and employment, connecting STEM students with female role models and engaging them in workshops and talks. As part of this partnership, we wanted to provide an academic scholarship to a student looking to make their own way in the world of science, technology, engineering and mathematics at a time when these fields are clearly so important for New Zealand’s future, including our path to net zero. Like AUT, we want to help ensure females have equitable access to education and great careers in these sectors, and this scholarship is one of the ways we’re doing this.

The scholarship was open to full time students undertaking a STEM-related bachelor's degree at the university and applicants were invited to submit a personal statement that outlined their experience in STEM and their academic goals and career aspirations. Of all the applicants, the judging panel was particularly impressed with Shahnaz.

Shahnaz has an inspirational story and amazing ambition that truly resonated with the team at Electric Kiwi.

Shahnaz is a Bachelor of Computer and Information Sciences (BCIS) student, majoring in Computational Intelligence. With a family history of military service, Shahnaz told us it’s been her dream to join the RNZAF in a STEM-related field since she was just 13. After graduating from school, she applied to a role in the RNZAF, but her application was not successful. That only strengthened her determination, so she chose to further her experience and knowledge by applying for the BCIS degree at AUT, with the intention of re-applying for the RNZAF following her graduation – but this time in the hope of becoming an Officer in that sector.

Shahnaz identifies as a member of the rainbow community and holds a position on the Out@AUT executive board at AUT where she works as Secretary and STEM Outreach Officer. She’s also an AUT Student Ambassador and graduated participant in the Design and Creative Technologies Faculty Year 2 Women in the Leadership programme.

“Throughout all of these roles and opportunities, I have created the role and dialogue for intersectional outreach between multiple underrepresented communities in the STEM field (women and the LGBTQIA+ community) and assisted in organising and running outreach during the Big Gay Out and Semester 2 2021 Orientation Day,” Shahnaz told us.

“I have learned the hard way that you cannot be what you cannot see. If I want to see people like me in my dream industry – mixed-race, rainbow women in positions of power – I have to be the change I want to see,” Shahnaz said.

Outside of university she also participated in the 2018 RNZAF School to Skies programme where year 13 female students participated in seven days of STEM-related exercises and engagement with roles and personnel in the Air Force.

Because of her passion for the STEM industry and the fantastic support of underrepresented communities within it, we’re very proud to award the scholarship to Shahnaz.

“I want to prove to people like me that, no matter who you are, what you have experienced or what opportunities may not be readily available to you, you can achieve your goals and make an impact in an industry that doesn't look like you. These industries need you, and you deserve to be there just as much as anyone else.”

We couldn’t have put it better ourselves. Congratulations Shahnaz.