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December, 08, 2016 Molly Emerson, Commercial PV + Storage Associate, SolarCity

In my first conversation with Molly I was struck by her combination of smarts, optimism and humor. It was her optimism and sense of humor, however, that got me thinking. Smarts are an obvious benefit to any team, but characteristics like optimism and a sense of humor, though often overlooked, can in fact be the savior on a team when hours are long and/or complex projects run into issues. And since she works in solar project development with as many moving pieces and obstacles as one can imagine, I’m sure Molly’s SolarCity colleagues appreciate her optimism and sense of humor at least as much as her smarts. Anyways, she reminded me that your contributions to a team (and what will stand out in an interview) are more than just what’s on your resume. If you really want to stand out, don’t be afraid to show your personality and demonstrate you are someone people enjoy being around. Enjoy!


Name, Title and Organization
Molly Emerson, Commercial PV + Storage Project Development Associate, SolarCity


Educational Background (e.g., college, major, any graduate school or additional certifications)

Yale University, B.S., Environmental Engineering


How do you stay informed on your sector? 

Greentech Media, Wall Street analyst report emails, Energy Gang podcast


What does a typical day look like in your current role? What are your primary responsibilities?
As a commercial project developer, a classic day is a flurry of communication with different teams (sales engineers, structured finance, contracts, legal, storage team etc.) to try and fit the puzzle pieces of each project together. I do a lot of PPA (power purchase agreement) pricing and analysis in excel to find the best rate and pricing scenarios that will both bring in revenue for the company and savings for the customer. My responsibility is to perform accurate analysis on potential projects and provide reliable numbers to the sales team and the customer.


Why did you first want to work in renewable energy / clean technologies?
I grew up in Alaska learning about and witnessing the effects of climate change all throughout my childhood. I wanted to throw my abilities behind transitioning the world to the next stage, running on a clean energy economy.


What are your two favorite aspects of your job?
The wonderful people I work with and seeing the light go on in a customer’s head when they realize they can go solar, save a ton of money, and not have to lift a finger. It is so easy now!


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?
A passion for solving climate change and truly believing that the opportunity is there goes a long way.


To perform your job well, what is the most necessary skill or personality characteristic, and why?
Unwavering comfort with numbers and critical analysis skills.


What is the one bit of advice you would offer a young person hoping to break into renewable energy / clean technologies?
Be informed about both sides of the issues. Know what your critics will find fault with so that when that conversation arises, you can see their point of view yet confidently defend why clean energy is the right answer. Educating ourselves about both the wins and the faults with clean energy, and honestly spreading that knowledge, will inspire cascading confidence in the industry.


What is something you have learned in your job that surprised you?
How small the industry is, especially here in the Bay Area!


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?
Microgrids in the South Pacific / Caribbean are super interesting; the level of power engineering that is at play and the benefit to the locals from getting power from renewable rather than conventional sources is really amazing.


If you could be compensated for your work with something other than a paycheck, what would it be?
Snowboarding vacations.


Thanks Molly! Keep up the great work!

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