Shivani Chotalia, Senior Analyst

Shivani Chotalia, Senior Analyst

Shivani is a senior analyst at NRStor Inc., an energy storage project developer.

What is your morning routine?

I have two morning routines. One is wake up early(ish), hit the gym, shower, have a smoothie and head in to work. The other is continue hitting snooze, lie in bed contemplating whether I still have time to get a workout in until the answer is a definite “no,” and finally get out of bed and out the door.

Tell us about your career path.

My career path has taken me through a number of exciting opportunities. I completed two university degrees: green process engineering and the Ivey Business School’s HBA program. Along the way I spent time working on polymer engineering research in China, investment banking in the oil and gas industry, and with a startup company producing wax out of recycled plastic.

Through these experiences I learned that I loved the startup environment. Working with a small, dynamic and dedicated team where I had exposure to every aspect of a business was exciting to me, and it led me to the amazing community of young, entrepreneurial people at Venture for Canada. Another element that became very important to me was sustainability. Working with Engineers Without Borders and participating in the Hult Prize taught me a lot about innovative social business models and the opportunity we have to redefine profit.

Now, as a senior analyst at NRStor, I assess project opportunities and support the build-out of energy storage projects. For example, we’re currently working on a compressed air energy storage project. We also built, own and operate Canada’s first grid-connected flywheel facility. I also spend time working in partnership with remote indigenous communities developing clean energy solutions to reduce their dependence on diesel fuel.

Energy storage is an exciting technology allowing us to optimize our energy system and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. The ability to store electricity brings more flexibility and reliability to energy users across the supply chain. I love that I get to work on commercializing innovative clean technologies with a company whose values align with mine.

What challenges do you or women face in your industry?

I’ve spent a lot of my time in male-dominated industries (engineering and finance), and the energy industry isn’t much different. In all corporate settings, I think women are impacted by gendered stereotypes of what it means to be a leader. However, I think we need to reframe the question: this is not just a challenge for women, but for the entire industry, including all genders, experienced leaders and new hires. If our industry doesn’t effectively enable women to succeed, then we’re missing out on attracting and retaining top talent.

I also believe it’s important to have more women visible in leadership positions. I feel very lucky that my workplace has fantastic female leaders, including my CEO and our engineering and legal leads. Being around successful women makes me more confident in my own ability to succeed. I’m proud to be part of a community that celebrates and supports the success of intelligent women.

Similarly, on multiple occasions I’ve been the only woman and/or visible minority on energy industry panels speaking to university students. Each time, I was told by young women in the audience how valuable it was for them to see someone they could relate to at the front of the room.

What advice would you give to young girls who want to be the NEXT you?

Be the next YOU. I think my biggest success was finding my path into an industry I’m passionate about and that aligns with my skills. Also, being patient and persistent was key to getting there. Rather than accepting offers I wasn’t confident I would love, I took time to find the right company for me and worked to convince them I could bring value to the team. My advice is to figure out what you’re good at and what you’re passionate about, and find ways to bring both together. Don’t be afraid to get creative and think beyond traditional jobs, and don’t let anybody stop you.

How do you separate work life from your personal life?

I don’t think “work” and “life” exist in silos. In my opinion, it’s less about separating the two and more about finding a lifestyle that works for you. Every person has 24 hours in a day, and being intentional about how you spend that time is important. I believe if you actively choose what to prioritize and know exactly why you made that decision, then whether you choose to focus on “work” or “life” your time will be productive.

What inspires you?

I’m inspired by good conversations. Whether with friends, family members, and especially strangers, I love how everyone sees the world through a different lens and how I can get a glimpse into a perspective other than my own through a simple conversation.

When you’re off the clock, what are your indulgences?

Banana ice cream, living room yoga with my roommate, hikes and canoe trips exploring our beautiful Canadian outdoors, late night chats with my best friends, and just about every type of tea.

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