Q: Tell us about yourself and your background?
A: I’ve always been interested in the renewable, cleantech space, and that was pretty intentional. I completed a Bachelor of Science in engineering from Brown University and earned a Masters of Science from Columbia. I could have gone in a few different directions, like plant engineering at a big factory or a research role, but that’s not what I wanted to do. I really wanted to work in cleantech and the renewable energy space.
My first internship was for a year at a company formerly known as EnterSolar and is now one of Stem’s channel partners. Then I worked at SolarCity doing engineering work for the design of residential systems.
Q: What is your role at Stem?
The experience I gained from my previous roles was hugely helpful, especially because my first role at Stem was helping our field installation team. Having context from the solar side of how an installation and design works was super helpful when I first joined, and even now, five years later, it’s still helpful in my current role as a technical program manager.
Over the course of the past five years, I’ve progressed from a Project Manager to an Application Engineer. When Stem decided to shift to a channel partner model, my role naturally evolved, and now I’m in my current role as a Technical Program Manager. I like to continually develop my skill set, so the flexibility and openness at Stem has really helped with career growth.
I had proven my proficiency at helping Stem build energy storage systems (ESS), but then the challenge shifted to ‘how do we translate building projects into helping our partners?’ So, I started working with our channel partners on how to better install projects and understand the hardware and Stem’s Athena® smart energy software. That’s how I evolved my role into more of an application engineering role.
I focus on new product integration and work closely with Stem’s software and sales teams. I also work with our top tier battery suppliers to understand the technical specifications of the hardware. I collect data to fully understand the requirements for Stem, our channel partners, and the energy storage end users to operate installations and integrations from the technical side. Probably the flashiest part of my role is getting the battery hardware to communicate effectively with Athena.
Q: What’s the most interesting thing you’ve worked on lately?
The software projects I work on can have lengthy cycles. For example, when starting with a new battery supplier, it can sometimes take months to vet the hardware, install the battery, test the system, and get the system live for customers.
A large part of that cycle is answering, ‘How do we integrate this hardware with Athena?’ and then I deliver solutions to the challenges that come along. In my role, I get to really dive into all of the different aspects of deploying an energy storage system properly with new hardware.
To do this, I interface a lot with our software team to make sure our software integration is reliable and scalable for fleets of projects with the same hardware. I figure out how the ESS should be operating from a revenue standpoint – to make sure that systems are operating correctly so that the battery charges and discharges at the opportune times to earn the most revenue for our partners and customers.
Most of the time, problems are discovered and fixed during our rigorous integration testing, all the while working under enrollment deadlines to qualify for incentives. All of this requires me to effectively coordinate the many different resources that it takes to install a successful project.
Q: What recent industry trends have made a big impression on you?
A: Stem recently acquired AlsoEnergy, a global solar asset management software company. Merging the companies will bring a lot more efficiency for our customers and partners to have a combined resource: a clean energy intelligence platform.
Q: Any advice for younger professionals interested in the renewable energy space?
A: My general advice is to just talk to people and network a lot. There are a lot of great groups and events for networking, for example, different learning events for industry professionals. Attending those is hugely helpful. That’s how I found Stem. I met Julie Steury at a networking event, and she really advocated to find a role that fit me within the company. And that was five years ago. So, I owe her a lot.
I would definitely recommend working at Stem. Reason one is the career growth exploration opportunities, and the high level of interest from managers who are pretty open to finding a home for you and to find ways for you to learn more about what you’re interested in.
The second reason is Stem’s Culture Coalition. I’m what we call a culture ambassador, meaning we welcome folks into the company, and we do a monthly virtual lunch with everyone. And then we’re assigned a new hire, and we try to make sure they’re comfortable and point them to internal resources as their onboarding and adjusting to their new role.
Q: What about Stem would you want our customers and partners to know?
Being here for five years, I’ve seen how the energy industry has changed, whether it be new markets or new business models – and it’s been amazing to watch how agile Stem can shift gears, even with having been in business for more than a decade. But the people here still have a very flexible mindset, and we’re always doing what’s best for the customer.
I interact with select customers during pilot projects. I work with them pretty closely because these folks are using Athena for the first time in their energy projects. It’s pretty exciting to be right there on the edge when new developments are made.
At this point, I’ve been able to experience different work styles, from previously doing interconnection project management, and now using my retrospectives and what we’ve learned in the past for new projects and products to make a better process in the future; even knowing that the details for each project are always very, very different – that’s what keeps it exciting!