Linda Mabhena is the CEO of DLO Energy Resources Group, a wholly owned female power company that generates electricity from renewable energy sources such as the wind and the sun. DLO currently owns and operates one of Africa’s largest wind farms with the combined generation capacity of 244 megawatts which means DLO Energy Resources Group can power over 200 000 households annually.
Linda was listed amongst the 20 Most Powerful women in Africa featured on Oprah’s Power List, the Best Emerging Entrepreneur by Forbes Woman Africa in 2017 and was recognized as the 2018 Youngest Board Member on the University of Oxford’s International Advisory Board.
Here, Linda shares her tips and tricks on how to stay fashionable and professional in a typically “un-glamorous” white and male-dominated industry, while we learn more about her business and advice on how to enter the energy space.
What is your morning beauty routine?
I follow a 4-step skin routine, I cleanse my face with Glycolic renewal cleaner from SkinCeuticals, I then use their C E Ferulic vitamin C serum which is revolutionary for anti-aging, followed by the La Melle Serra restore cream which I find really helps for dry skin and I finish off with Heliocare 360 water gel sunscreen. I learnt later in my life that black skin also requires sunscreen.
For my body, I absolutely love this Ghanaian brand Kaeme. I use their black soap body wash and I moisturise with their Goldflakes Shea butter which smells divine and very nourishing for dry skin.
I seldom wear make-up but I’m a strong believer in having a good lip colour. I normally use an Aura Absolute Matte lip colour or a MAC retro liquid lip colour.
How do you find the time to stay fashionable in a traditional non-glamorous role?
Fashion is my first love. When I look good, I feel confident. I work in a male-dominated sector however, I refuse to blend in to the dull grey suits culture. I remember when I hosted Ghana’s Minister of Energy in London for a meeting with investors interested in investing in Ghana’s power sector; I wore a bright pink dress. My strength and power lie in being a woman. I embrace my feminine energy; I view it as part of my strength. There are already enough men in our sector so I see no use in dressing like one. Even on site, visits I wear a dress if I want to, but I also adapt to the safety measure on locations. I try to make those hard hats fashionable.
Are you big on manicures?
Oh I take my manicures and pedicures very seriously. For me, when I take care of myself, I feel more confident. The first thing I did when COVID-19 restrictions were lifted was to book an appointment. My standard go-to is a gellish French Mani and Pedi. However, I also play with colour – my favourite being the pink smoothie for winter, it’s a subtle pink. I also do brighter colours. For me, being taken seriously should be about what comes out of your mouth as opposed to the colour of your nails. I can rock up to a credit committee meeting with neon green nails as long as what I have to say makes sense.
What does beauty mean to you?
Beauty to me is the highest form of self-care; dressing well is a form of good manners. It shows you respect yourself and the people around you. Whether we want to acknowledge it or not people do judge you by your appearance. Beauty is an investment in yourself, but more than the external stuff I think an important part of beauty includes the internal self-care work. For me, the most beautiful people are those that are not only externally well-presented but have a soul and personality to match and this requires work as well.
What advice would you give to a female wanting to enter the energy business?
I would say there is a lot of opportunity in the renewable energy sector. As we see the world shift to cleaner sources of energy, we will see a continued decline in oil and gas investment. Now is the prime time to enter the market; it is a billion-dollar sector in Africa alone and there are a number of funding opportunities for women in the renewable energy sector such as the SEFA fund from the African Development Bank. I would also encourage women interested in the sector to get in touch with Power African, which offers a number of training, employment and business grant funding opportunities for African women wanting to get involved.
How do you style your hair for work?
I have played with my hair so much over the years. I have naturally thick and long hair, which I recently chopped off to my mother’s horror. I wear my hair in all styles – cornrows, braids, short and natural. I also play with wigs when I am lazy.
Overall, what motivates you?
I want to occupy spaces traditionally not reserved for young African women. I want another young African woman to see me and think if she could do it why not me and in fact, I will do it better than her. We need to stop being apologetic for occupying space as black women, we need to stop being afraid of being too much. Most importantly, we need to stop limiting our dreams and ambitions in this world in order to fit in. It’s ok to want more.
Fashion and beauty tips for the energy industry?
I love heels, but I have learnt to be practical especially on sites. I have invested in a number of cute but stylish flats. I reserve my heels for board meetings. My advice is, wear what makes you happy but always read the room as well; you can show your individuality in a way that is still respectful of the environment. My last piece of advice is show up as a woman; show up as yourself, don’t hide your femininity if that is what makes you comfortable. It is so important we start showing up as our most authentic selves.
LinkedIn: Linda Mabhena-Olagunju