In this episode, Sharon Lee talks with Amanda Bybee about how her profound desire to generate an impact in the world in her early 20s led her to work with solar energy. Amanda tells us a little bit about her background and her professional trajectory that landed in the solar industry. In this way, she talks about O&M, what is the focus of the company, the business strategies, and in general how she has developed herself as a professional with ONM before and after the pandemic as a woman.
Sharon Lee taps over a decade of solar sales experience, having led the creation of a solar division for a leading manufacturing/construction firm, resulting in over 17 MW of solar in its portfolio as well as solar ultimately becoming its highest-grossing revenue vertical. Lee has been involved in the GA Solar Energy Association, serving on the board of directors as the marketing chair, organizing the annual conference, as well as vice-chair, and ultimately the first female chair of the organization in 2015. She is also a charter member of the Professional Women in Building chapter of the Greater Atlanta Homebuilders Association, a member of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), and Women in Solar Energy (WISE). Lee earned her B.S. degree in communications with double minors in marketing and psychology from Middle Tennessee State University, after spending three years at the University of Tennessee in the pre-health curriculum. Lee is the mom of two boys, ages 14 and 11, and a rabid college football fan. She and her husband, John, spend most of their free time at the baseball or football fields unless they can steal away for a quick round of golf.
Ms. Bybee has worked in the solar industry since 2003. Her entrée was promoting renewable energy policy in Austin, TX at Public Citizen, where she served as the coordinator of the Solar Austin Campaign. The campaign worked closely with Austin Energy to establish the first solar rebate program in Texas in 2004. Ms. Bybee then went on to work at Meridian Energy Systems, a solar EPC company. Ms. Bybee joined Namasté Solar in January 2006 as an early member of the team. She held numerous roles over her 11 years there, from technical sales & design to business development. While there, she worked to obtain a federal charter for a unique financial institution that funds clean energy products and services: Clean Energy Credit Union (www.cleanenergycu.org). This was only the 17th federal charter issued since 2010 and the first in the state of Colorado for over 30 years. She continues to serve as a volunteer on the Supervisory Committee of the credit union. In 2016, she helped earn an award from the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative to found the Amicus O&M Cooperative (www.AmicusOM.com). The O&M Cooperative brings together a network of providers across the country to provide coordinated services for geographically distributed portfolios. She now serves as its CEO, and is committed to the mission "to ensure that solar PV fulfills its promise as a responsible and reliable energy source, for generations to come." She obtained a BA in English and French from the University of Texas at Austin, and through solar, has found her "inner engineer."
Insights from this Episode
- Amanda's professional trajectory
- How Amanda landed the solar energy field
- Amanda's personal background
- What is a cooperative approach in terms of the energy business
- What is Amanda looking for in the members of O&M
- The importance of the geographic scope for the members of O&M
- The environment that O&M seeks to create on a corporative level
- What a female style of leadership means to Amanda
- What advantages has Amanda found in this style of leadership
- How the pandemic changed the working style in general
- The importance of mentorship
- The importance of technology for climate change friendly practices in the solar industry
- Projects in which Amanda is working on
Quotes from the Show:
- “When I graduated college I knew that I wanted to do impactful work and I thought if I was gonna line up all the problems in the world as dominos, what are the dominos that are in front of the line that is affecting everything else”- Amanda Bybee in “The Sunnyside Podcast”
- “[About O&M] We’ve been also working within the membership to ensure that our technicians are trained to a certain standard, to ensure that all carry the safety credentials, to ensure that we are approaching the work in a way that is safe, efficient and profitable”- Amanda Bybee in “The Sunnyside Podcast”
- “[About feminine leadership] When you are responsible for running a business that is situated in a historical context of these life-altering events, I really feel it's like…a call for a new kind of leadership ”- Amanda Bybee in “The Sunnyside Podcast”
- “All these quarantine periods and … making space for your employees to deal with both mental trauma associated with all these stuff and as well as the physical aspects of it, these all add up to to a lot of new business challenges”- Amanda Bybee in “The Sunnyside Podcast”
- “Studies also show that managers tend to perceive greater productivity from workers that come into the office and when you’re working from home you do not tend to establish the same type of sticky emotional bonds with your coworkers, you don’t have the opportunities to facetime with your manager as much”- Amanda Bybee in “The Sunnyside Podcast”
LinkedIn: Sharon Lee
Facebook: Sharon Lee
LinkedIn: Amanda Bybee
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This episode was produced and managed by Podcast Laundry.