Renewables

WISE Serbia Chairwoman Neda Lazendić embodies dedication, expertise, and leadership

Neda Lazendić

Photo: Balkan Green Energy News

Published

April 26, 2024

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Published:

April 26, 2024

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In the world of energy, Neda Lazendić stands out for her commitment, expertise and leadership. She is the country manager for Serbia at WV-International, and recently, she was also elected as the Chairwoman of the Advisory Board Women of Serbia in Sustainable Energy (WISE Serbia) network. As a woman in a traditionally male-dominated industry, she has become an example of how top positions can be earned through perseverance, education and expertise.

After graduating from the Faculty of Law at the University of Belgrade, Neda Lazendić worked as an intern at a law firm that was representing Dutch investor Windvision. At that time, the company launched a pioneering project to build the Alibunar wind farm complex.

“As an intern I was involved in this project from the very beginning and that’s what makes it very special for me. After the initial phase that involved location research and wind measurement studies, the investor made a strategic decision to do business in Serbia, and I had developed an interest in the regulatory aspects of renewable energy projects in Serbia. So, it was only logical for me to begin my career as a legal adviser at WV-International,” said Lazendić.

Given that the legislative framework for such projects had not yet been developed at that time, favorable investment conditions had to be created in order to go ahead with the construction of the first batch of wind farms in Serbia. Lazendić was involved in this process from the very beginning, as part of the team developing the Alibunar wind farm and looking for other projects. Those projects have made WV-International a major investor, with a portfolio of 800 MW from wind and 80 MW from solar energy.

Working in energy requires constant professional development, exchange of experience, and keeping on top of trends

In the meantime, she completed her master’s studies in energy economics at the Faculty of Economics, which shaped her into a manager. Thanks to her accomplishments, she eventually became WV-International’s country manager in Serbia.

“As you can see from this brief biography, I did not choose energy by chance. I was fortunate to be introduced to this multidisciplinary field at the very beginning of my career, which gave me the opportunity to be a lawyer, economist and engineer, all at the same time. I liked the dynamic nature of such projects, but also their long-term stability. Working in energy requires constant professional development, exchange of experience, and keeping on top of trends, and that’s what makes this sector so appealing to an ambitious woman like me,” said Lazendić.

Being a woman in energy is challenging

What is it like to be a woman in the energy sector? “Not so bad, thanks for asking!” Lazendić said. With this humorous reply, she often shows a photo from one of the many expert panels she has taken part in, usually as the only woman panelist.

Neda-Lazendic-BEF-2023

Photo: Neda Lazendić, Belgrade Energy Forum 2023

“Being a woman in energy is challenging, since it is a male-dominated sector. However, it is also a sector where the best candidates do get their well-deserved positions. In the last few years, the top positions at the most important state institutions, but also private companies, have been occupied by great women. These women demonstrate, with their personal examples, that the ongoing energy transition can only be led by the finest experts, and that this should be the only possible criterion,” according to Lazendić.

Serbia’s progress in renewable energy is gradual, continuous and impressive

Lazendić has worked in the energy sector since 2013. According to her, Serbia’s progress in renewable energy development can best be seen through the lens of implemented projects. “First, there were wind farms built through the feed-in tariff scheme, followed by projects based on the first auctions for solar and wind farms. Most recently, Serbia saw the completion of the first large wind farm financed and built through a private power purchase agreement,” explained Lazendić.

Also, there has been significant progress in terms of the country’s commitment to the energy transition and the necessity of ensuring fairness in that process, according to her.

“The state’s commitment to this process is best demonstrated through its support to private investments, but also through the development of its own capacities from renewable energy sources. Keeping in mind that 10 years ago there wasn’t even a legislative framework, I think that the progress is gradual and continuous, but also impressive,” she noted.

Women’s position in the energy sector has improved significantly in recent years

Lazendić has been a member of the WISE network since 2019, and has recently been elected as the chairwoman of its Advisory Board. “Although I am active in many associations, this network is special to me because I am a member there as a private individual and as an expert. I do not represent the views of the company I run, but rather contribute to the network’s work through my personal efforts,” she emphasized.

The position of women in the energy sector has improved significantly in recent years, thanks precisely to the mutual support and networking of women with a similar business ideology, as well as the exchange of knowledge and experience.

Lazendić: I want to inspire young women to work in the energy sector

“As the chairwoman of the WISE Serbia Advisory Board, together with my amazing colleagues, I want to inspire young women to pursue a career in the energy industry as well as to improve the environment for their professional development,” said Lazendić.

Her message to young women who have embarked on a career in energy is that they have chosen the right sector, which will continue to grow. However, they can only survive in it by constantly enhancing their knowledge, she adds.

“Through networking with other women, they can also share experiences with like-minded people by discussing some expert topics, as well as the ever-important issue of work-life balance. They must be persistent in their professional commitment, develop together with their projects, and believe they have a purpose in this sector – because women are indeed the leaders of the energy transition,” said Lazendić.

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