As I shelter in place, I’m given the unique ability to reflect on my career in solar. From starting out canvassing, to asset management, business development and now project management, it’s been a fruitful journey. I’ve been lucky to work with amazing colleagues, customers, and partners who have collectively taught me how to navigate the industry. I recently sat down (virtually) with our director of marketing, and the following is an excerpt from our conversation.
How did you get started in solar?
Fresh out of college, I wanted to continue to commit myself to a sustainable purpose. I researched career paths in environmentally-focused industries. After weighing the pros and cons of different industries, I concluded that renewable energy was the perfect fit, as it has the ability to trickle down into almost every other industry.
What is the most challenging position you’ve had in solar, and what did you learn from it?
Working in residential solar, canvassing right after college. I was really excited to take my first step into the solar industry, yet I didn’t fully realize what I had gotten myself into. Before I knew it, I was canvassing in the Bay Area with thousands of other door-knockers asking homeowners if they’d like to save money on electricity bills. It was hard, grueling work in the hot California summer. Thankfully, my boss was Josh Lasker, a truly brilliant and compassionate person. He taught me to be resilient, determined and authentic in every interaction. With his leadership, I got through the summer and actually began enjoying the challenge. I attribute a great deal of my confidence in the workplace to his leadership.
Is there a woman who has shaped your career or you most respect?
Becky Alderete, who was the Director of Asset Management and my boss at Radian Generation. My daily responsibilities at Radian were exciting and fulfilling, but the greatest gift was getting to work for and learn from Becky. She really was any young woman’s dream boss, in that she’s kind, understanding and patient, yet incredibly strong and knowledgeable. She knew exactly how to handle any situation and gracefully gained the respect of industry leaders, colleagues and clients in a strongly male-dominated industry.
How did these prior positions in the solar industry prepare you for a position in sales at Quest?
The two main things that prepared me were the confidence and thick skin that canvassing gave me, and the knowledge of the solar industry I gained at Radian. I wasn’t afraid of getting hung up on during a cold call or trying to hold my own when a customer was talking about project specifics. It also helped that the EPC’s, financers and developers I talked to every day were super friendly and knowledgeable.. I was able to target customers in areas where Quest’s value is strongest – geographic areas with high wind and snow loads – to take advantage of our QuadPod solar canopy’s robust 3D space frame truss, and areas with poor soils to capitalize on our fewer foundations.
How do you know when a customer is a good fit for our products, and what do you do if they are not?
Honestly, I just try to be as candid and honest as possible when developing a solution for a customer’s needs. I currently work to support the business development team in making sure we recommend the best product for a customer’s site, and sometimes that means Quest’s canopies are not the best fit. In that case, we work to find an alternative solution that better suits their needs. At Quest, our overall objective is to aid in the world’s transition to clean energy, however best we can.
Operations comes with juggling many different duties, tasks and details. How do you keep all the balls in the air and make sure jobs stay on schedule?
A clean hand-off from business development to project management is crucial to understand all aspects of a project and the evolution of design. After the handoff, I assess the timeline of the project and set up a meeting cadence. It’s important to understand each customer’s communication needs. If we’re working with a customer who’s never built a solar carport, I’m happy to do more heavy lifting and help however I can. After every meeting, I send out updates and potential implications to the procurement team, AR/AP, design and engineering.
Through it all, I’ve learned that this industry is made up of brilliant people with the incredible ability to overcome hurdles to make this world a greener place.