Samantha Mullin: Opening Doors for Future Offshore Wind Champions
Among all the parts needed to construct an offshore wind turbine, the most critical are the people doing the work to make the project a reality. From boardrooms to factory floors, ports, vessels, and research labs, each role is essential. And as global demand for offshore wind grows, so does the need for workers with a variety of skills.
That’s why Samantha Mullin, Offshore Wind O&M Implementation Manager (USA) for RWE, says prioritizing the creation of roles and programs to help young talent fill offshore wind jobs is one of the most critical things we can be doing as an industry today.
“Once you are in the industry, don’t be reluctant to reach backward and pull the next (and the next and the next!) individual along with you,” Mullin said in a recent conversation with Oceantic Network. “Be a champion and encourage and welcome others into the industry. Be a reason that folks choose to stay.”
Mullin, who was also the winner of the Network’s 2023 Next Wave Leadership Ventus Award, actively mentors young professionals in the industry. She’s seen first-hand how efforts such as Oceantic’s Next Wave program can make a difference in the career trajectory of someone joining the renewable energy industry.
Next Wave is designed to empower and shape the future U.S. offshore wind workforce by providing individuals from diverse backgrounds with tools they need to thrive in the offshore wind industry. Young professionals 35 years old and under receive access to professional development training, networking opportunities, peer-to-peer knowledge exchange, leadership recognition, and scholarships. There will also be a series of Next Wave-focused content offered as part of the International Partnering Forum (IPF Week), taking place April 22-25 in New Orleans.
Oceantic Network: Describe the moment you knew this was the industry you wanted to be in.
Samantha Mullin: I never thought I’d be in the renewable energy industry. I thought wind electricity was a wild idea at first and quickly realized during my undergraduate and graduate internships that this industry is rapidly developing, challenging, exciting, and one I wanted to join.
I was fortunate to intern with a wind turbine OEM for three summers while completing my engineering degrees. Each summer I rotated through a different department and was exposed to a variety of design, construction, and servicing of onshore wind farms. It was during these experiences that I knew this was the area where I wanted to focus my career.
My internship led to a full-time role on the ‘customer side’ working for a renewable energy operator in onshore wind and then more recently moved to the offshore wind team at RWE. After 5+ years the promise of industry challenges and excitement have not disappointed.
Oceantic Network: What do you like best about working in this industry?
Samantha Mullin: It truly is the people I get to work with every day at RWE and in the wider renewables industry. We celebrate success together and they offer the best support and motivation when challenges seem insurmountable.
Next to the people, the scale of the solutions we provide, from the concepts to the machines and devices, is massive and something I enjoy, as any good problem-solving engineer would agree.
Oceantic Network: Do you have a mentor? How did you find this person and what is the best piece of advice you have received so far?
Samantha Mullin: I’ve been fortunate to have three different mentors at different stages in my career. Each of these mentor-mentee relationships was initiated by me because I admired something specific about each and wanted to learn how they had accomplished so much. I reached out to them directly and each agreed to help. Don’t be afraid to ask. People like to help others, especially young people.
My first mentor had a global network and valuable connections across my new company, RWE.
My second was a woman working as a wind farm General Manager in the highly male-dominated operations department that I was hoping to join.
My third mentor balanced an international assignment, relocation, and recruitment into a Senior VP role at a new company all while raising small children.
One piece of advice from a mentor that has stuck with me is to intentionally block time on your calendar to reach back to your old mentors and contacts to reconnect and update them, especially if they’ve had a hand in your success.
Oceantic Network: What value have you gained from being part of the offshore wind community, specifically Oceantic Network and IPF?
Samantha Mullin: Oceantic Network makes a small industry an even closer-knit community. In my two years as a member, I have enjoyed engaging in working groups and connecting at conferences like IPF and the O&M and Safety Summit and other forums with potential partners, suppliers, and future colleagues.
Having the umbrella of Oceantic Network also allows for the industry to celebrate collective successes and collaborate on larger challenges facing our nascent industry. It is encouraging for companies to run side by side with a common goal and purpose, and the Oceantic Network presents a great forum to find those people and businesses.
Oceantic Network: What did being named a Ventus Award winner mean to you personally?
Samantha Mullin: I’m incredibly grateful to have been nominated by my peers and colleagues at RWE and to be selected to receive the 2023 Ventus Next Wave Leadership Award. I believe it is going to take a lot of hard work, dedication, and commitment from so many to make offshore wind happen. That includes college graduates that might not yet know what they want to do in their career, women who want a role in Offshore Operations & Maintenance, and the transitioning workforce coming from traditional energy generation.
I truly believe “to be it, you have to see it” and be supported by great people to find your place and purpose. I am humbled to be recognized for what I see as simply passing on strong guidance and mentorship that I was fortunate to receive throughout my career so far.
Oceantic Network: What advice would you give to others joining the offshore wind industry?
Samantha Mullin: If you want to be in this industry don’t give up. Reach out to people, ask for support and get involved in the community. Join the Next Wave program or something similar that provides tools, resources, and opportunities to join this fast paced, growing industry.
About Samantha Mullin:
Samantha Mullin is an Operations & Maintenance Design and Implementation lead within RWE’s Offshore Operations group. She supports the development of US-based projects and is based in Boston.
Through her role at RWE, she has earned the title of Next Wave Leader by directing projects across many axes of the offshore wind industry and dedicating herself to educating young individuals on offshore wind. She has forged relationships with local suppliers and logistics professionals and continues to drive the developing workforce in support of the energy transition. She is a key driver for understanding how best to support education, training, safety and technical certification for both high school graduates and seasoned technicians from other industries to join the Offshore workforce.
Internally, Samantha mentors and develops incoming graduates to RWE through the Graduate rotation program. She works closely with recent graduates to help them understand offshore wind more broadly and the importance of operations and maintenance within the industry. Samantha is part of groups like Women of Renewable Industries and Sustainable Energy (WRISE), the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and she often volunteers in her local community. Samantha has demonstrated her leadership capabilities by bringing multi-functional teams together across several initiatives to help position offshore wind for success over the next decade.