NEISHA RAMDASS has made herself a regional name in the energy sector and will be speaking and moderating at a global energy forum to be held in Panama next month. She will speak on a panel titled Disrupting Dependency: How can the Caribbean say goodbye to fossil fuel imports. She will also be moderating another panel called, Caribbean islands and their potential as microcosms of sustainability. In 2017, as a member of the audience, she had attended the Caribbean Renewable Energy Forum, where she realised how expensive the switch from fossil fuels to renewables could be, especially for the cost of utilities.
"When I got the email last year I called out to mummy, I was so excited! I thought at first that this had to be spam," Ramdass told Business Day of her invitation to follow her passion – sharing her knowledge with others and also learning from them. But it took some introspection and decisive action to get to this point.
Ramdass was already in her first year pursuing what she thought was her dream job in the petroleum sector when she realised it wasn’t her passion. Already invested in her petroleum engineering degree at the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT), Ramdass did not want to drop out but no longer had the zeal to continue. The 27-year-old eventually took a year off to assess what motivated her and re-emerged.
She wanted to help people, so, she switched her major and transferred to the University of West Indies, St Augustine, choosing to study for a major in environmental and natural resource management with a minor in entrepreneurship.
“I just wanted to impart knowledge. Energy is neither created nor destroyed, it’s just passed on – like education,” Ramdass said.
She said the "nerdy girl" from George Village, Tableland who has now become Energybae, started out on Twitter, first from her own account, and then in 2017, from @eNRgyTT, where she breaks down the complexities of the energy industry. She also has a bi-monthly vlog also, called eNRgyTT. When she first began tweeting, the response was encouraging. Friends would congratulate her on the ease at which they understood what to them was once complicated. Then others took note. Her followers began to grow, comments were encouraging, and whatever negative response was drowned by the support she got.
Soon, the mainstream media started to notice, she said, and she was invited to be the youngest panellist discussing the 2016 budget on TV6. Last year, she was invited to TTT and CNC3, making complex topics more relatable to viewers, including, to her mother’s disappointment, using Trini slang to make her point. She taught herself to make infographics to attach to her tweets.
Ramdass is mindful of what some may consider her overnight success. Her messages on social media are meticulous, detailed and scrupulously fact-checked. She is a young professional, a woman in a field dominated by men in an era where social media can either make or break you.
Now completing her MBA in sustainable energy and management at the Arthur Lok Jack Global School of Business, Ramdass said among her influences are Conrad Enill, Kevin Ramnarine and Mariano Browne, all former government ministers in finance and energy. Though the men are from opposing political parties, they share a common theme, she said, and they compel her to think critically. People have asked her if she intends to be energy minister one day. And though it’s not her aim right now, she’s not entirely dismissing the idea.
"Energy is life," she said.