Recently I had the chance to connect with Henry Hundt, a Conservation Fellow with the Renewable Energy Alaska Project. One takeaway for me is the more I learn about the need driven experimentation currently happening in Alaska (e.g., microgrids, efficiency and river energy) the more I realize how much the rest of the country may learn and eventually gain from the learnings of these experiments. As they say, necessity is the mother of invention. In addition, Henry shared some useful advice for any young people looking to start out in clean energy and clean technologies. Check out some of Henry’s thoughts below. Enjoy!
Name, Title and Organization
Henry Hundt, Conservation Fellow, Renewable Energy Alaska Project
Educational Background (e.g., college, major, any graduate school or additional certifications)
Cornell College (Humanities) University of Fairbanks Bristol Bay (Renewable Energy)
How do you stay informed on your sector?
Podcast: The Energy Gang; Google Alerts for Microgrids, Arctic Energy Development; Greenteck Media; Utility Dive; Twitter: @GregorMacdonald
What does a typical day look like in your current role? What are your primary responsibilities?
A typical day is a hodgepodge of fundraising efforts, organizational outreach and helping REAP run The Alaska Energy Challenge for the state. Renewable Energy Alaska Project (REAP) is a small crew of passionate individuals which means that much of the organization’s work happens within earshot of the entire staff. It makes for an exciting and energetic work atmosphere that pushes everyone to wear many different hats (think member outreach, design, and general problem solving).
Why did you first want to work in renewable energy / clean technologies?
Having grown up on a small dairy farm in Wisconsin, the quality and accessibility of nature have always been something I consider when making decisions in my professional life. The renewable energy sector is an obvious companion of this mentality.
What are your two favorite aspects of your job?
Diverse problem-solving opportunities that require you to learn new skills, a collaborative work environment and the underlying satisfaction of believing in the work you are doing (I guess that’s technically three).
If someone was interviewing for your role, or a role like yours, what would they need to demonstrate in the interview to give themselves an advantage?
Unwavering persistence and a respect for the fact everyone around you is probably better at the job than you. The respect will help you learn, be a better team player and the persistence will ensure that you become a valued member of said team.
To perform your job well, what is the most necessary skill or personality characteristic, and why?
Some of that is probably answered in the last question. I do believe that being at peace with what you do for a living is hugely important. Though money and fame motivate, it seems that the most successful and influential individuals have completely blurred the line between what they love to do and what they do for work. This probably boils down to self-awareness and honesty. It will pay off in the long run to be sure.
What is the one bit of advice you would offer a young person hoping to break into renewable energy / clean technologies?
Don’t be bashful in your outreach efforts–email, call, walk in–and make yourself available. Also, look to find education opportunities that mix on the job training with traditional classroom work. This will give you the best taste of where you want to be within cleantech field.
What is something you have learned in your job that surprised you?
The pace of change that is happening across the North American grid, both from IPP rights standpoint and grid complexity.
Other than the focus of your work, which realm (technology, geography, or other) of renewable energy / clean technologies is particularly interesting to you right now and why?
Though this somewhat tangentially relevant to my day to day work–the whole realm of renewable energy microgrid integration. Both the technical aspect as well as the developing of capital for said projects are in the process of rapidly changing and could be a factor in pushing further development technologies like river hydrokinetic.
If you could be compensated for your work with something other than a paycheck, what would it be?
Fresh eggs and coffee. I think there is a market for these in my household.
Thanks Henry! Keep up the great work!