Q: Tell us about yourself and your background.
I received dual graduate degrees in business and environmental sciences from the University of Michigan after spending seven years in finance. I wanted to help solve climate change, and renewable energy felt like a good fit with my private sector background and business skills – helping to realize a carbon-neutral society through renewables deployment.
During grad school, I got very interested in energy storage and had lots of experiential learning internships, all of which focused on battery storage. I fell in love with the space and knew I wanted to pursue a career in it, but at the time it was a very small field and there weren’t many jobs. So I took a job in solar financing, which was a hybrid of where I’d been and where I wanted to go. I worked as a business development manager under the C-suite at a residential solar finance company, and a lot of that was working with our sales channel and distributors and running channel-related programs. I spent two and a half years in that role, and then more energy storage jobs started opening up.
Stem was actually one of the first storage companies I looked into during grad school. I got a tour of the office and walk-through of Stem’s Athena® artificial intelligence (AI) software, and I immediately saw the company’s potential and got excited about making a career here.
Q: What is your job at Stem?
As Stem’s Distribution Program Manager, I’m responsible for building and managing many aspects of Stem’s Partner Program. In 2019, shortly after I joined Stem, I caught wind of internal interest in expanding our channel program and formalizing the way in which we interact with our solar partners and distributors. I saw synergies between my previous company and Stem, and between my prior job and what this job would be, so I pitched myself and got the opportunity to do it. Originally that meant building everything from scratch: launching Stem University, our online developer and EPC training portal, as well as defining different Partner Program categories and benefits and adding distributors to our network. Now that much of the groundwork for the Partner Program has been laid, my focus is on our distributor partners and driving volume through that channel.
A typical day for me involves lots of interfacing with Stem colleagues and our partner network. I have a regular cadence with the leadership and sales teams at our distributor partners, talking through pipeline building, co-marketing initiatives, and other strategic opportunities. Internally, I meet with Stem’s leadership and sales teams to align our Partner Program with our overall company goals. Between our existing and new partners, there’s a constant drumbeat of training, onboarding, contracts, and go-to-market strategy discussions.
Q: What recent industry trends have made a big impression on you?
Electric cooperatives’ interest in energy storage, for one. There’s a huge value proposition there, in terms of energy storage helping distribution co-ops reduce their coincident peak charges, and it’s just starting to take off. There’s also an overlap between that market and the one I typically work with, distributors, insofar as some distributors are owned by groups of co-ops, and working with them would be an effective channel into helping co-ops expedite successful energy storage projects.
Beyond that, the biggest news for energy storage is probably that Congress is considering an investment tax credit (ITC) for standalone energy storage systems, which would really expand and accelerate the market. The solar ITC was critical to expanding solar in the U.S., and the effect of a storage ITC would likely be similar for energy storage.
Q: Any advice for younger professionals interested in this space?
To get where you want to go, you might need to make sacrifices and lateral moves, take unpaid internships, and go back to school. In my case, I had to do all of those things, and it has been totally worth it. It makes a big difference going into the office every day feeling like you’re doing what you love and fulfilling your broader purpose.
There’s so much opportunity in this space, and now is a really good time to get in. If you’re not a viable candidate yet, just do the things you need to do – get the experience and education you need – and it will pay off.
Q: What about Stem would you want our customers and partners to know?
On the surface, Stem looks like a software company. And we are: we were founded on world-class AI energy optimization software. But we’re also a service company to our core, and that comes through in every part of our business. No one else in the energy storage business can provide customers and partners with the level of service that Stem does. It’s a combination of our business model – from presale, post-sale, installation, operations, and ultimately throughout the life of the services contract – and our own experience in the market, having gone through those stumbling blocks ourselves so we know what our customers and partners need. When you partner with Stem, no matter what shape or size you are, you will always get best-in-class service.