At shecco, Pilar Aleu and Ilana Koegelenberg both advocate for more climate-friendly cooling. We asked them about their motivation, the upcoming natural refrigerant tradeshow and why we need more women in the industry.
In celebration of International Women's Day 2021, we are highlighting two female members of our Green Cooling network and representatives of the refrigeration and air conditioning industry. Pilar Aleu and Ilana Koegelenberg both work at market accelerator 'shecco (Ouvrira une nouvelle fenêtre)'.
shecco helps companies bring their climate-friendly solutions faster to market. In the heating, cooling and refrigeration sector, they specialise in integrated services and products to advance the use of the five natural refrigerants carbon dioxide (CO2), ammonia (NH3), hydrocarbons (HC), water and air. The group operates from four locations, spanning various activities, industries and continents. Their portfolio comprises activities in three areas: media (Ouvrira une nouvelle fenêtre), events (Ouvrira une nouvelle fenêtre) and market development (Ouvrira une nouvelle fenêtre).
Pilar, Ilana – you both have different academic backgrounds. How did you get into ozone and climate protection and how long have you been working in this field?
Pilar: I worked in variety of organisations before shecco - from a car manufacturer to a Consulate in Mumbai (India). Almost seven years ago, I joined the shecco team and immersed myself into the natural refrigerants world.
Since the beginning, I’ve been very involved in the ATMOsphere conferences, where I’ve had the fantastic opportunity to meet hundreds of colleagues, partners and customers all around the globe. I’m currently Business Development Manager covering Europe and America regions, which allows me to influence and be part of the development of our activities and projects while keeping those relationships built over the years.
Traditional cooling systems are a significant contributor to global warming because of the energy consumption and the use of high GWP refrigerants, and I’m happy and proud of our work to transition to a better, cleaner and more efficient industry.
Ilana, what about you?
Ilana: I studied Journalism and Media studies at Rhodes University in South Africa, obtaining a post graduate degree. I then actually got into the agricultural media side of things for a few years before stumbling upon the HVAC&R industry. I started as a writer for the RACA Journal (Ouvrira une nouvelle fenêtre) (Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Africa) and Cold Link Africa (Ouvrira une nouvelle fenêtre) industry magazines, quickly working myself up to Editor for both. I stayed here for nearly a decade, visiting refrigeration and air-conditioning installations and writing about it. I knew about shecco for many years and often connected with their team members at global events like Chillventa. So, to be able to join the team in 2019, was an absolute dream come true!
Most rewarding experience
At shecco, I manage the Market Intelligence department, which combines our Media and Market Development teams into one super team of natural refrigerant experts. We cover everything from policy and project coordination, to tailor-made market research and media products. We’re the ones that make it happen behind the scenes.
Ilana, you have said that working for shecco is "a dream come true". Looking back at your career path in HVAC&R: What was one of the most rewarding experiences?
Ilana: There are so many. Just being able to serve the local HVAC&R industry for such a long time, was in itself so rewarding. You build a lot of personal relationships and really get invested in the projects and players. I think, in a literally “reward” sense, it was the South African Institute of Refrigeration and Air Conditioning (Ouvrira une nouvelle fenêtre) (SAIRAC) giving me their annual award for biggest contribution to the South African HVAC&R industry in 2019 as I was leaving. This meant a lot to me.
Pilar, what was your most rewarding experience?
Pilar: It’s very difficult to choose only one. Having the feeling that you are contributing to something big and important to our future is very rewarding. From a personal level, I started in shecco as a trainee, that professional growth linked to a meaningful business cause has meant a lot to me too.
Listening to you, one notices how passionate you are about your job. Why is environmental protection a matter of the heart for you?
Pilar: We should all care about the environment. I don’t think it’s even a choice anymore. I feel touched by the people and, especially young generations, who are increasingly speaking up and urging governments and companies to do something about environment.
Ilana: I agree with Pilar. All people should inherently care about the environment – it seems illogical not to.
Speaking of environmental protection: For the second time, shecco is hosting a virtual trade show to further push sustainable cooling and natural refrigerants. What will be different at this trade show than at the first one?
Pilar: By taking what worked from the first edition and adding improvements to the functionality and design based on the feedback from exhibitors and partners, we’re confident to deliver the most innovative event of the year for the cooling industry.