DEI Member Feature: Maura Culhane

Our featured guest for our July DEI interview is Maura Culhane
Maura is the International Markets Development Manager at VIOTAS, a smart grid technology company promoting renewable energy.


Q1: Please introduce yourself.

My name is Maura Culhane. I am the International Markets Development Manager for the Irish smart grid technology and services company VIOTAS. VIOTAS develops smart grid technology that enables large commercial and industrial customers to achieve their sustainability goals and earn revenue by actively participating in the electricity market to help balance the grid. The company is headquartered in Ireland with a Research & Development Hub in Kraków, Poland, and subsidiaries in Australia and Texas in the United States. The company has doubled since 2020, with over 100 employees on the team and further growth planned. It is a great company to work for, with a team representing a diverse group of talented professionals.   

Q2: Please tell us about your relationship with Ireland and the IJCC. 

Originally from Jacksonville, Florida in the US, I first visited Ireland in 2010 to attend the University of Limerick for a semester while completing my Bachelor of Arts. 13 years later, I am still here and love the country and Irish culture. VIOTAS is headquartered in Limerick, so I truly feel I have set down my roots in ‘Treaty County.’ In 2020, VIOTAS took our first steps toward international expansion with a strategic plan to enter identified target markets. Japan is a target market for VIOTAS due to its high renewable electricity targets and evolving power system. We plan to enter the market in the coming years and understand the importance of building relationships early, so we joined the IJCC. My colleagues and I have enjoyed attending the online networking events and engaging with other members. We plan to visit Japan in early 2024 and hope to take part in one of the many planned in-person networking events!   

Q3: How would you define diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)? 

DEI, from my perspective, represents the inclusion of all gender identities and ethnicities from all generations empowering collaboration and instilling equal opportunity for growth across an organisation. Aside from this, it is also about fair treatment and understanding the uniqueness of every individual’s situation to support their development best. When you have a diverse workforce, it creates enormous value for any organisation in terms of culture, performance, and innovation.  

Q4: Would you mind sharing how DEI, or lack thereof, impacted your career decisions and/or journey? 

Absolutely! I have worked in the energy/electricity sector for the last seven years. It is no secret that the representation of female leaders in the industry is low, but this is slowly changing.  

In VIOTAS, we have a strong growing representation of women in management positions in Ireland and in our international subsidiaries. From my own perspective, the awareness of the gender imbalance in the industry, coupled with the support of the VIOTAS’ Training Budget and Leadership, has enabled me to continue to upskill with a vision to grow with the company to help change this narrative. It is vital for me on this journey to continue to support and create equity for the next generation of gender-inclusive leaders irrespective of ethnicity, sexual orientation, ability, or background.   

Q5: What role does leadership play in championing DEI initiatives? How can leaders effectively drive change within their organizations? 

Leadership plays a huge role in promoting DEI initiatives, and leaders need to commit to empowering the people they lead to develop and contribute to an inclusive company culture. The more diverse representation of leaders in an organisation, the more inclusive and welcoming it is for everyone on the team. I am lucky to work for an innovative, forward-thinking company like VIOTAS. VIOTAS is uniquely positioned in that we are growing both in Ireland and internationally. We continue to hire a diverse, wide range of talented professionals in Ireland and globally to support our engineering ethos of problem-solving, innovation, and continuous improvement. The more diverse and inclusive our team becomes; the broader range of skills and talent is brought to the table.   

Q6: Why does the practice of DEI contribute to workplaces being more innovative? 

DEI and innovation go hand in hand. The greater representation of genders, generations, backgrounds, and ethnicities, the more this will drive company culture, performance, creativity, and strategic decision-making. It is essential to represent this in all business areas. Studies have shown the importance of workplace relationships, offering multiple benefits for mental health, wellbeing, and the validation of different experiences. When people feel included, they are more likely to engage and create innovative solutions.  

Q7: What steps can each of us take to actively promote DEI in our daily lives? Please give one or two concrete examples as a call to action. 

Every day we have opportunities to learn and grow. Across the board, we need to be more transparent in our DEI efforts in organisations to continue to break barriers. For larger organisations, it is about being upfront in annual reports about the statistics and steps taken in this area. This puts the responsibility on the organisation to put these initiatives in place and to continuously improve.  

For SME sized, growing organisations such as VIOTAS, we make a conscious effort to continue to be inclusive in our hiring and developing our company culture. We are at an exciting stage of international growth, and I look forward to watching our team continue to grow, including soon hiring our first Japanese colleagues.