"Here´s to the crazy ones."
Technology Architect. Trailblazer.
Jo is a technology architect, a pioneer and a changemaker at heart.
With an aerospace engineering degree going from an early career in drone technology, to wind energy technology advancing the green energy agenda as a corporate exec and now an impact-entrepreneur in the digital technology space.
Jo is currently the CEO & Co-founder of IMPACTR, which aims to become the world´s new digital home for youth-led social action that makes sustainability mainstream and shifts the entire world´s spending to trusted social and environmental impact, starting in food, fashion and green energy lifestyle areas.
Jo believes that where our biggest impact can be created at this point, is in enabling the collective power of millions of small, individual actions by everyday people.
02 a gamer and child engineer
At 11 years old Johannah was asked by the ´CHIP´ foundation of Australia (Children with High Intellectual Potential) to repeat a long string of random numbers in a row, backwards, and did it with ease.
Drawing rockets and spaceships as a child in the late 80s/early 90s, mixing up the Lego block pieces of the pirate ships, castles and space stations to build her own unique creations, constructing elaborate ball rolling tracks from every random object around the house, playing serials games on 386+ computers with her much older cousins, clocking MechWarrior and designing DOOM game levels until the deep hours of the night.
Jo has a deep relationship with tech, but Jo grew up in a tiny country town and spent time on farms and in the outback camping where her grasp, respect and connection with mother nature was also deeply formed.
She was top of her high school college with Dux Honours and scores were in the top % of the country, with, frankly, only 2 weeks of study cramming. Excelling in the most advanced mathematics as well as the social subjects and English language – a rare combination!
03 mathematics, music & management
Jo became an Aerospace Engineer and in 2005 wrote a thesis on the potential applications in information technology & intelligence for payloads of ultra-high-altitude airships with 12 months flight endurance provided by a solar powered skin. Continuing on with this Jo interned at a major international consulting firm doing R&D and road mapping drone technology for the Australian Defence Force.
But the relation between mathematics and music was too strong, and when the time came Jo dropped the application to become an Officer and join the Australian Airforce, and instead pursued a growing passion for tech in electronic music production using emerging software as well as DJ´ing techno and house music.
To make ends meet Jo landed a job doing project engineering on a telecommunications infrastructure rollout with 92 radio-network installation sites across a state of Australia that is larger than Turkey. Jo got an early dose of the complexity of infrastructure development and her team were doing a whole range of scope from site designs with consideration of visual impact and radiation profile safety parameters, to working with local communities and municipalities to get project approvals through, Jo´s capacity for management emerged.
02 trailblazing an entire industry
“Wind Turbine Engineer”? Oh, this sounds cool. In 2008 wind energy wasn´t really a thing yet, but Jo found this novel concept and realized her aerospace skills would be transferrable and went for it.
Jo´s first major contribution to the advancement of the wind industry by challenging the status quo, much like mixing the Lego, was of course again not following the instructions and pushing the project team (really pushing…and getting pushed back too) to mix two different wind turbine types on the same project site. She argued this would be a more efficient way to capture the variation in the wind conditions across the undulating land. And she was right.
Jo wondered why wind turbine sales weren´t going that well and discovered Microsoft Excel and self-taught her way into becoming a financial engineer, pulling all-nighters with the headphones on and music blasting to produce financial models that would prove her crazy engineering ideas would be worth it. Jo´s first ever excel cashflow model looked like the flight deck of an aircraft with a black background and a multitude of fluorescent colours for data indicators. A senior leader commented, “Geezus you could take this sh*t to Nasa”. Her first ever powerpoint had so many complex animations and transitions, that she is lucky she got her cousin to check it who worked at a corporate, before presenting it and freaking everyone out.
After making a presentation in Singapore in 2009 that challenged industry standards, Jo was picked out and invited to the vanguard and beating heart of wind energy innovation in the world, to be part of the Wind Engineering Competence center being established in Denmark which was a cluster of the top oceanographers, meteorologists, data scientists, data analysts, all forms of engineers, mathematicians working at the pinnacle of advancing wind energy.
Jo brought her gung-ho attitude, technical aptitude and excel models to combine all this knowledge into financial power, exploring and developing financial related products whilst also learning the ins and outs of the wind itself, in order to convince the rest of the 2000 R/D organization to smash the envelope and accelerate Wind to be “On Par with Oil & Gas”. You´re welcome!
Being seen as a bit of an alien with ´out of this world ideas´, Jo used unbreakable analysis to prove her arguments and relentlessly and unapologetically interacted across the technical, commercial and financial departments in the company to quite literally mix and blend turbine parts and push to create new and radical steps in wind turbine and wind energy development. Why not more power output, why not longer blades, why not longer, why not longer, why not taller, why not faster, why not thinner, wider, more pieces, less pieces.
In Jo´s time wind turbines got almost 100m taller and over 100m wider in diameter, which is about as long as a football pitch or as tall as London´s Big Ben.
The Corporate Businessman: Jo was the youngest female executive in the 75 year history of the world´s largest wind turbine manufacturer.
05 becoming a leader
When Jo´s questioning and analysis of everything in sight started to yield serious results, she was sent all over the world to bridge product development with sales and customers, working on the ground and navigating the variations and complexities in renewable energy markets and competitive situations across China, India, Mexico, Turkey, South Africa, USA and all across Europe.
After running specialised analysis teams producing market analysis that was instrumental in product development decisions, Jo took the reins from her former mentor and grew and led an unusual but cutting edge global function called Value Engineering, which spanned across the entire company value chain to leave no stone unturned, never take no for an answer – there is always a way for a product or sale to become competitive and profitable through value engineering.
Jo became the youngest and first female Chief Specialist in the company´s 75 year+ history, entering a world-class high-profile group of pioneers with extremely deep and unique expertise that was shaping a whole industry. She became by far the youngest member ever of the product council and investment committee managing over €400m annually in R&D investments and product development. One year later becoming a Vice President and joining the management team handling €10bn revenue annually.
Jo builds unique things out of the ordinary – both products and people organisations. She led several unique organisations including the company´s “Tiger Team” Six Sigma concept representing 10 different functions of the value chain, including product management, technology R/D, construction, transport, & supply chain, structured finance, treasury, procurement. This cross-functional task force worked on Top 10 most important global mega-deals and would draw on the full weight of the company´s competences and resources to create innovative solutions that would further expand wind energy installations into over 80 countries.
Jo´s ability to recruit exceptional talent and to gather and rally the top minds didn´t stop there as she brought in new and specialised competences in energy market analysis to reach new heights of systems-level thinking for renewable energy advancement.
Jo forged ahead with the organisation shaping a strategy to expand wind power by combining it into a blend with solar and battery solutions. In 2018 Jo and her army hosted extensive dialogues and workshops with other major industry leaders from the traditional energy space as well as the new high-tech space within the emerging battery and storage solutions. Together they produced a whitepaper highlighting the existence of the ingredients required to bring Australia to 100% renewables as fast as possible and she engaged in this on a panel at the Sydney Opera House as part of the Clean Energy Conference.
Jo established herself as a recognized wind industry expert and leader in the renewable energy sector. However, Jo became increasingly frustrated with the pace of advancement of renewables. There´s more on that to come as she most certainly has not given up…quite the opposite in fact.
The journey to optimism: Jo coming to terms with her experiences in a talk about impactful careers at the C40 cities conference in 2019.
06 opening her eyes
2 pivotal moments set Jo´s new path.
Jo is LGBTQIA+. She spent her entire professional career keeping her personal life and same-sex relationship to herself to not put her high-profile job at risk. While all the arrogant men at the dinner table laughed and joked and talked about their wives, Jo kept quiet and laughed along. While discriminating sexist remarks and lesbian jokes were made, Jo laughed along to keep face. Not anymore.
Her first invitation to a “Women in Energy” event was transformative. Jo found herself for the very first time in a room of 25 female executives in the energy industry, gathered at one table and then on a tour of the world´s most innovative constructions which is a giant heat and power facility that converts everyday trash into energy with zero emissions and complete control of toxic biproducts including re-use where possible. To give you a picture of the size, there´s a man-made ski slope on the top.
The level of conversation in this all-female setting, the intensity, the passion, the curiosity, the substance, the content and genuine engagement of the women here completely knocked Johannah off her seat.
Jo was, for the most part and like so many others, pretty much the only woman in the room for most of her career. Jo really had no professional female role models to look to, other than her partner and the strong women of her family, except for a brief moment in time at the very beginning of Jo´s career, she had an important and somewhat defining experience with 2 exceptionally strong-willed female lawyers, who believed in Jo despite her youth and gave her a voice at the most senior table.
This inclusive environment was fostered by the male leader at the time and a credit to him for breaking the norms and having a 25-year-old female in 2008 leading presentations and discussions and genuinely having a voice at the highest decision table.
07 finding the keys
But, the loudest voices Jo ever heard, were the ones that did not yell and shout. She heard them at her most pivotal life experience – the One Young World global youth summit in Bogota in 2017. Until this point, although Jo was committed to renewable energy and driving the climate change agenda, Jo was so busy being a businessman, she had her eyes closed. But at One Young World they were opened almost beyond comprehension.
3 days of non-stop storytelling from inspiring young people between the ages of 18-30 from over 190 countries all represented by 2000 young people in one electric room. The whole thing was so earth-shattering, so moving and so disruptive, that Jo was in fact literally sickened by end of the event, Jo almost threw up at the closing ceremony. Tears, laughter, tears, celebration, resilience, power, Jo was never the same again, and everything in the world is now seen through the lens of the enormous untapped potential of youth and under-represented groups.
Jo, in Colombia at 34 years old with eyes wide open, suddenly found herself ready walk over hot coals for those young leaders presenting their unimaginable strength to overcome adversity and rise up with optimism, invention, solutions, justice and hope.
“You´re never too young to lead, and you´re never too old to learn” - the Late Kofi Annan former Secretary General of the United Nations
After leaving the corporate world, Jo for several months immersed herself in research across the problems and opportunities with gender equality, diversity & inclusion, especially in the energy sector, and very rapidly become a fierce advocate in this space after a long reflection on her own personal experiences.
A remarkable presentation from a researcher at the University of Finland showed Jo that women intrinsically bring sustainable development considerations into all of their actions and decision making. Jo realized we already have the keys to change, and they are in bringing representation to the table, the voices of youth, women and non-binary genders, and other under-represented groups. In fact, don´t bring them to the table, give them the table. We could be carbon-neutral by next Wednesday.
This led to Jo´s most important “Aha” moment to date: “Well, I can´t seem to find the company I want to work for that is based on these values, so I will just create it.” Johannah became an impact-entrepreneur in 2018 and began intensive active research and analysis into what how to unlock the potential of bringing representation to the table.
The Optimist: We have already won. Let´s declare victory and make it so!
08 the fountain of youth
"What if we flip the hierarchy on its head—or rather get rid of it all together—and
let youth experts help lead us into the future?" - Sara Vanore Rewkiewicz
Looking for the bridge to bring Youth, women and under-represented groups to the forefront of sustainable change, Jo expanded her research and exploration across the United Nation´s Sustainable Development Goals which broadened her perspective into the intricacies of our global scale problems.
This ultimately led her to the study of consumer behaviour, behavioural psychology and particularly our digital behaviours, which captivated Jo and she has since developed keen interest in the immensely powerful behavioural-influencing tools such as social networks and e-commerce and other digital products.
What makes us do what we do in the digital space? Why do we spend time there? What´s missing? What could we really do with all these tools if we wanted to change the world?
As always, Jo being able to spot gaps and opportunities and mix things to create something unique, Jo realised the enormous potential in creating a digital platform that would be dedicated to making social and environmental impact.
Jo and her team are now building IMPACTR, an innovative digital platform architecture that combines trusted sustainable-impact actions with gamification and game design, social engines and behavioural psychology to enable and empower a youth-activated movement that also bridges the increasing generation gaps and brings us together under a common goal.
IMPACTR’s vision is to ‘shift the entire world’s spending to trusted sustainable impact’ with a focus on small collective actions that spark joy. We have more young people on the planet than ever before with the potential to drive change. What if all those young experts could move the world to take small actions and ignite drastic change?
“If you had 1billion dollars what would you do with it?” asks Katie Patrick, author of ´How to Save the World´ in her recent podcast. Jo´s answer is, IMPACTR.
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