Martha P. Rivero’s presence is immediately palpable. She possesses an air of warmth and affability that invites sincere and open conversation while remaining steadfastly and clearly intelligent, passionate and overtly confident in such a way that allows others to participate likewise.
Don’t allow the final quality to obscure your interpretation, because we must recognize the distinct difference between confidence and arrogance or pride. Often women are shy or slow to assert their power, knowledge or experience both professionally and personally. In speaking with a poised person that has achieved greatly in her career and followed exciting paths of uncertainty guided by her passion and wits, I began to get the feeling that she just had “it”. That indescribable quality in certain women that just feels sure and unwaveringly strong.
What I came to discover is that Rivero does indeed have “it”. She is both inherently minded toward STEM topics while also having perpetually challenged herself and others throughout her life. She has been discouraged and struggled, like all academics, professionals and certainly engineers have, but has risen from those challenges and learned from it. She literally followed her dreams across oceans and borders, all while recognizing what a supreme gift it is to have her unique and valuable outlook and skill set wherever she lands.
So yes, Martha P. Rivero has “it”, maybe in part by nature, but her composure and accomplishments were made, worked for and entirely earned throughout her life, education and career.
Rivero has enjoyed a lifelong relationship with science and engineering, you could say it is in her blood. Raised and surrounded by engineers in Caracas, Venezuela, Rivero was given examples everywhere she looked- from her father to her siblings- of not only what she was gifted with, but also what she was capable of achieving. Even in the early years as she competed academically alongside two male classmates, she welcomed the challenge. More than that, she enjoyed it saying, “I don’t remember thinking I could not do it, if something is fun for you, it’s okay that it is difficult, it is possible.” This framework and perception of science and the world provided the breeding grounds for her path into engineering.
After completing her Bachelor studies as a Production Engineer at the Universidad Simón Bolívar, she pursued the prestigious, integrated, international Erasmus Mundus double degree program to further her education in sustainable engineering topics. When prodded over whether this immense, life and address-altering decision invoked some fear or misgivings, Rivero responds sincerely that this opportunity was a “dream”, something about which she felt extremely excited and grateful to experience.
She completed the program in 2018 wielding two degrees from two European countries (“Masters in Management and Engineering of Environment and Energy” (Spain) and “M.Sc. Mechanical Engineer” (Sweden)). She then began her career at SINN power near Munich where she wrote her Master’s thesis on the life-cycle cost analysis of a wave energy converter. After years of hard work chasing down her education and moving to three different countries, Rivero said settling in Germany felt as if she had “finally arrived”.
Rivero is currently the Sustainable Supply Chain Manager at SINN Power, but as part of a lean and growing start-up, she wears many hats. Some of these hats include updating the life cycle assessment for the wave energy converter, acting as coordinator on behalf of SINN Power for the Horizon 2020 MUSICA Project and initiating the Environmental Impact Assessment for various products. One surprising hat: she also supports the company in some HR capacities.
Why would an engineer be a shoo-in talent for HR functions? In part because Rivero has both a “holistic view and experience with SINN.” She has been involved in many activities throughout the company and its departments that allow her a unique understanding toward function and strategy. She is also an engineer, which means balancing various targets from various directions with numerous stakeholders while still maintaining and achieving the company’s strategy and seeing the big picture.
The overarching theme that returns when compiling Rivero’s story is that she has never attempted to be anything other than herself. I asked her how she has held her own at the proverbial or literal table as the minority, or even sole, female voice. Her intention is never to speak over or louder than a male colleague, but instead to offer unique value to the conversation by leveraging the differences that strengthen the team.
“I tend to listen and wait, not to just say anything to be heard, but instead to say the right thing at the right moment. My personality allows me to make the right comments and realize the moment to bring them into the discussion, I don’t need to be in the middle in order to direct and guide the conversation”, says Rivero.
Today Rivero is passionate about the Horizon 2020 MUSICA project led by University College Cork (Ireland) that has united fifteen partners across Europe. The effort aims to create a floating platform combining various forms of renewable energy, storage and even desalination. To her, this is a coming together of her passions: to work and collaborate internationally, manage and reduce environmental impact and to take part on an infectiously driven, sharp and able team.
There is so much to learn from females establishing themselves and pushing innovation forward in cleantech. I think about the way I can borrow and employ the lessons I’ve learned from Martha P. Rivero.
Number one, to believe in our abilities and to be undaunted when things are difficult, if it challenges us one way or another, that is likely a signal it is worthwhile. Number two, that as women we offer something unique to the conversation and however that perspective is expressed, it works best if it is genuine and true to your character and disposition. Instead of pressing back and fighting against your nature or station, lean into and leverage it. Number three, everyone has “it”. Rivero’s passion and talent is unconcealed and bubbling over to the great benefit of those around her and the world at large, a product of hard work, persistence and bravery to chase after what matters to you. This is “it”.
Written by Maddie Walton
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