Green Summit – The Future of Cleantech Jobs

Green Summit - The Future of Cleantech Jobs

The Green Summit, a two day hybrid event taking place in San Diego featuring leaders in renewable energy, cleantech, science, and sustainability, sharing their vision for a cleaner more sustainable future.

Speakers come from varied backgrounds including, renewable energy, electric vehicles, solar technology, finance, sustainable product development, transportation, and job growth, and will each be giving a 30-minute presentation about their respective industries.

The goal of this event is to educate people about the latest trends in renewable energy and cleantech, so that they can support businesses that are working to create a more sustainable future, as well as bring more awareness on a local, national, and international level about San Diego and its leading tech and renewable energy companies.


Dylan Welch: Catherine has been a big supporter of the green podcast she’s been on in the past. I love chatting with her. We’ll bring Catherine on here. Catherine just has her finger on the pulse when it comes to a lot of trends happening in renewable energy sustainability, clean tech. And I’m really excited to learn more about what she’s doing, especially when it comes to jobs and growth in these industries and with her company. So, Catherine, thank you for being here. How’s it going so far? 

Catherine: Yeah, good. Thank you. That’s a little intimidating. A tough act to follow there.

Dylan: Yeah, we’ve been fortunate enough to have some great guests and speakers and we’re excited to have you here. Catherine, you started Dylan Green, as a way to kind of help people find and build their careers in clean tech, renewable energy and sustainability. So can you tell us a little bit about Dylon Green and kind of what your vision was for starting the company and where you want to take it in the future? 

Catherine: Yeah, absolutely. So I started Dylan Green because I had been in the renewable energy recruitment industry for about eight years at the time, I started the business about two and a half years ago. And I really felt like there was an opportunity to focus more on helping women within the industry. I think as my journey through helping women in the industry has evolved, it’s also become quite apparent that there’s a need to help BIPOC candidates general, advanced and get into our space, if they’re not in there already. 

Dylan: A premier experience, is it? What are the trends just in terms of like, male, female ratio in these industries? 

Catherine: Yeah, well, it’s pretty dire. I want to say something like 20% is very, very low.

Dylan: Well, why do you think that is out of curiosity? 

Catherine: Well, I think it goes back to STEM right, like clean energy is very, is based a lot on engineering, right? It’s like an engineering roles. And it’s heavy finance. A lot of you know, these projects are very finance, legal. These tend to have been historically industries that men have gravitated towards. I think women are represented in our industry in a lot of different ways. starkly like maybe more in like support functions rather than lead functions.

Dylan: Yeah, what advice do you have for women who want to get more involved in clean tech or sustainability? Are there any specific industries that you see are kind of trending up and growing that if they wanted to go to college for that, like that would be a good path to go towards? 

Catherine: Yeah, I mean, I definitely think that in the piece of clean energy, if you like, it’s probably growing the most rapidly and has the most jobs is solar. So I think if you were in college and thinking: “Where could I get my first opportunity?” I think the solar industry would be worth looking at. There’s some amazing organizations that are in this industry, like WEN ,Women Environmental Network, but they have never done– another WEN which is Women’s Energy Network. You also have WRISE, organizations like CELI, which is Clean Energy Leadership Institute, that organization is really awesome because what they do is they also help not just grads into the space but they also help people who are career changers. So I didn’t get into renewables, I was 30. So there’s a lot of people that start out in one industry and want to pivot for lack of a better word into the clean energy industry. So people like CELI are great organizations like CELI are great to do that. They have fellowships as well that you can get involved in. And then there’s other organizations that come to mind are Women in Cleantech and Sustainability are very, very large. They   have historically been based in California but have definitely gotten more of a national presence as COVID has dragged on. And so there’s I think, a lot more certainty than there was even 5-10 years ago, in this space for women. 

Dylan: Yeah. And I’m a huge believer that if you’re working in a career that you don’t like, or you’re not interested in  it’s never too late to pivot and change, no matter how old you are, honestly, whether you’re 22, and you graduated, and you realize you don’t like the career path that you graduated with, or you’re 30 or 35. In your experience, if someone did want to pivot, you said you made a change at around 30. Are there any general sort of tips or advice that you could give to someone who maybe has a different background, and wants to get into the clean tech, renewable energy space? 

Catherine: Yes, leave your ego at the door. And so this, the number one thing I see with candidates is they do not want to take a pay cut. They don’t want to take a back step in job title. They basically were like everything the way it is for their in their current career, but they just want to move that over into renewables. It just doesn’t work that way. You know, when I got into the space, I went back to school, I was an intern, like I had gone from being quite a success had very successful career, to really having to eat humble pie for a couple of years, to get myself back to where I was in my previous career. And I think that, if you’re prepared to do that, and you back yourself by doing that short term, step back will give you a longer term, step forward than I think you’ll succeed. I think the other thing is, it’s a numbers game. So a lot of people say, Oh, I can’t find anything. And I’m like, Well, this is the hottest job market I have ever seen. This clean energy market is booming. So I’m like, okay, she can’t find anything. Well, how many applications have you done? How many hiring managers? Have you reached out? And I think what it is, too, is you have to have a very broad approach. Like, if you’re doing one thing, like well I sent my resume to 20 places, nobody responded, okay, well, how can you send your resume to the same 20 places, but instead of doing it through LinkedIn, can we do it through who’s the hiring manager who’s the CEO, you have to get creative. And if something’s not working, then you have to try something else. But this is the perfect time to get into this space, there’s so many opportunities, and we just don’t have enough candidates to fill those opportunities. So we have to get new people in. 

Dylan: That’s such good information. And like, it honestly gives me hope, too, because knowing that other people have successfully pivoted from one field to the next. It’s really possible for anyone and I agree, like, sometimes you do have to take a step back, and learn relearn the basics of a new industry, but then it’s one of those things where, like, one step back can equal the two steps forward, especially if it makes you happy, and you’re working in a career path that you genuinely are passionate about. I think that makes a huge difference too. And, and me personally too, I think there’s a lot of other people, statistics have even shown this, there’re people who are willing to take a little bit of a pay cut, if it means they’re working in an industry or for a company that they’re passionate about. And I personally think, and I know, a lot of people might disagree with this, but I’d rather be happy and work in something where I wake up every day, and I’m excited and make a little bit less money, then make more money and work for something that I don’t care about that I kind of dread going to work every day. So that’s really good information. 

Catherine: Just one other thing I’ll say about that. So just to your point there, I think it’s having that mission driven ambition, right, so being able to say, I had a hand in building that solar farm, or I had a hand in putting in better energy efficiency equipment in that building. And as a result, people’s lives are better for it, right. I think also, just going back to the point on how you can get into the industry there, another thing I see that’s quite common is people just assume that other people know they want to get into the space. And what I mean by that is, regardless of if you’re a grad or you’re a CEO, I’m on your LinkedIn, you have got to have somewhere on there, that gives some breadcrumbs to either recruiter internally or externally, that’s going to know you’re interested. So if you’re in a job, and you don’t want them to know that you’re looking, you can be very clever about it, like I’m passionate about solar, wind, energy storage, renewables, right clean energy, so like these key words that come up on algorithms. So at least then the person, you’re giving yourself an opportunity that someone may reach out to you. Because they see that scenario of interest. I also have candidates who aren’t working, who are very interested in the space, and you couldn’t find it on their profile. If you spent all day trying to find it, they have everything but those keywords. And then I say to them, “Well, how does somebody know that you’re interested?” And they look at me like, “Oh, that’s a really good point.” It seems so obvious. But you know, you got to set your stall out for what it is you’re looking for. So internet dating. 

Dylan: That’s smart, too, because like, I’ve had jobs in the past that I didn’t like working at. But also at the same time, you don’t want your employer to find out you’re applying to other places and looking at other places. So I like that, that little tip of like, how to kind of hint at it without saying anything too specifically. Can you share a success story in your experience of someone who was able to kind of make that shift or make that transition from maybe a job that they weren’t very passionate about into a new field or industry and found that passion and that success? 

Catherine: So I placed someone who was from oil and gas, and they were, I placed them into a solar company. And they were like, absolutely over the moon. The area that they were in was like FPNA, which can be very transferable skills. Like let’s face it, there are some jobs that are a bit more transferable like to get into the industry FPNA is FPNA. Regardless of like, what company you work at, right, like Accountancy is accountancy. And what was really funny is, the hiring manager at the time, had hired me to find someone for another opportunity who really wanted someone who was diverse, but from the industry. And so I said to him, “I’m just curious, like, what about someone diverse, like not from the industry? Like, wouldn’t that make a way bigger impact?” Because otherwise, you’re just taking one diverse person from one solar company, and you’re putting them in another solar company And that’s great, but we’re not netting diversity, I call it. So he said to me, okay, I’ll make a deal with you for the next role, I promise you, we’re only going to interview candidates, diverse candidates, not from the industry. Anyway, long story short, he hired this person, the person started and absolutely blew them away. There was a person that have been in the role for nine years, and this person came in and helped improve the process and procedure because oil and gas is more mature. So he had like a lot of absolutely smashed it. And it just was such a great case study for myself for the client for the candidate that like, there’s just so much value that these other more mature industries can bring into what’s still a nascent industry. I mean, 20 years, we’ve been around like, it’s not very long. 

Dylan: Yeah. It’s continuing to grow, which is cool. And that’s why I think you’re in such a good position to help people make those transitions and find those dream jobs. So like, out of curiosity when you’re working with these companies that are hiring, in your experience, what matters like the most? Is it an educational background? Is it work experience? Is it personality traits? Is it their ambition, and like goals that they want to accomplish? Because you just mentioned they didn’t have a background specifically, but it was a perfect fit for what that company was looking for. And I’m just curious for example, if a company here is hiring, like what should they look for to fill a role with that perfect applicant? 

Catherine: Yeah, I think it depends on the situation. Like I was saying, there are some roles where they want the experience. But then there are some other opportunities, and I’m getting more and more opportunities where I’m not being asked for clean energy experience, which is really exciting. And those companies tend to look more for culture fit skills and attributes. They like MBAs. I still get asked a lot for MBA, it’s not mandatory, but it shouldn’t be mandatory because it doesn’t sit well with again, going back to DEI and opening it up to lots of people when you start being exclusive rather than inclusive, but I do get asked for it. I think the other thing is technology. The space is becoming such a data driven technology play. A lot of my clients are in the software as a service base. I’ve just taken on a client that has a SAAS project specifically for hydropower. Like, there was SAAS play for hydropower? Apparently there is and there’s like a massive market for it and insurance. So my point is I think technology is definitely one of those things I get asked for a lot. So even though my marketing roles, can you use HubSpot, my sales roles, do they know how to use Salesforce? Like my analyst roles? How’s their modeling experience? Do they know Tableau? Do they know I get asked a lot for technology. And that’s something to keep in mind. 

Dylan: That’s cool. That’s interesting. What are some tips that you could share for someone who’s applying for jobs right now? Because I’ve gone through that process. And I know how daunting it can be, I know how depressing it can be when you’re interviewing and you don’t get that job. Are there any tips you have to maybe stand out or to like, nail that interview or to just get in front of the right person? And to give people who might be applying to jobs right now that like extra pep in their step or a little bit of hope? 

Catherine: Yeah, I definitely think the most important thing is staying organized. Because you’ll apply to a lot of stuff. And you’ll feel like you’re really spending a lot of time to find something and you’re not hearing back. And that’s because maybe you need to contact them two times or three times. And it’s hard for you to do that if you’re not organized. Same thing with recruitment, right? I can’t tell you the amount of times where I’m like, Oh, I didn’t follow up with him. And now he’s at that job. And I should have just followed up with him because I talked to him and why did I follow up with you know, like, kicking yourself, like you got to be working on where what you’re doing. It’s like you’re running your little business when you’re trying to find a job. I think the other thing is, I see a lot of very long resumes. So I would keep your resume short and sharp, two pages max, same thing with LinkedIn. And I think that what you need to be careful of is that if you’re coming from another industry, people don’t, in our space wouldn’t necessarily know that industry, right. For example, I had a candidate yesterday, and she had that she had worked five years for this company, and then two years for this company. But all of it was sort of present like she was currently doing that. And I was so confused as how are you working at both companies? And then she explained it to me that they had merged and that’s something like in her world, everyone knows. In my world nobody knows these companies are. So it’s really important that you let the industry know that you’re going into what the current state of affairs is, from the industry you’re coming from, if you don’t, if you see what I mean. But what I will say is, like I said previously, it is a numbers game. And so just to have faith that this might take six or nine months, but it will happen if you stay with it. I have so many success stories of people who’ve just stayed with it. And I can’t overemphasize the power of networking, networking, networking, networking, networking, you never know who you speak to, by saying that you’re interested in the clean energy space, who they may know. I’m working with someone at the moment, she’s a client of mine. She’s also a friend of mine, and her husband is in oil and gas, he’s looking to get into the space, I’m trying to get him into this space. But you just have no idea who knows people. So it’s always worth just letting everyone know what you’re trying to do and what your goal is people inherently want to help.

Dylan: I agree. Yeah, I think almost all the jobs I’ve ever gotten was usually through networking, and just meeting someone where I’ve been like, oh, I want to work in this space at an event or something. And they’re like, oh, I need someone let me make an introduction. And usually those personal introductions go so much further than I opinion just shooting out emails or applications online. And, and I was equate applying to jobs like almost like dating or like sales, like, you might not get that sale, that first time, you might not find the perfect significant other that first time, that first date, but you just got to keep going day in and day out. And don’t be afraid to get rejected. And don’t be afraid to shoot your shot a few different times, multiple times a day and like, you got a couple of plates spinning and then eventually one of them works out and then ultimately, you have enough options where you can start to choose. So go ahead. 

Catherine: Yeah, one thing I was gonna say as well, I think it’s important to also keep the mentality of how you can help others and so what I mean by that is like, when you’re sending your resume, you should be tailoring it to every company and every job that you’re going for, but you also should be thinking not me, me, me, me, me. You should be like, what is it about this company, like where I could add value. So could you imagine if you got on the phone with the hiring manager, and you’re like, I don’t have experience in this space? And I have a lot of varied experience, but rather than me tell you about that, what is it that you are looking for Mr. hiring manager? What is it that I can add? Like, where is it that you see gaps? Where is it that I could add value? It’s probably like that sales one on one training, isn’t it? But like finding that pain point, and giving that offering that finding the need and offering the solution? I don’t think enough people think that they think very much about themselves first. And I think when you flip it on its head like that, like you were saying about I’m helping others and so forth. I think people are gonna be quite impressed by that, I think. 

Dylan: Yeah it’s funny, I was interviewing someone for my company about a month ago, and that exact situation happened where they talked a lot about themselves. I was like, okay, cool. Like, you’re obviously you know, qualified, but never wants to they ask any questions about like, “How can I help you?” And I think that kind of opened up my eyes a little bit of just ideally, you want to provide value to where whoever’s hiring you and help them grow. And sort of having that mentality switch of just providing value versus just getting something out of it yourself, I think speaks a lot to potential hiring candidates. So that’s, that’s good to know. So anyone who is out there hiring, like, just think about what can you bring to the table to these companies that you’re potentially working with? You mentioned LinkedIn, is that like one of your recommended tools to connect with people and to reach out to people for potential jobs? 

Catherine: Yeah, I mean, I definitely think the number one way I like to work is referrals and networking. But you know, sometimes you got to get back to the old fashioned headhunting. And yes, so LinkedIn is invaluable for that. I think things like making sure you have a photo on LinkedIn, I’ve had a lot of chats with people about this, people like to disagree with me disagree with me, all you like, the data shows that you get contacted. substantially more, when you have a photo, make sure that it’s a professional photo, which again, these things like sounds so obvious, but you’d be very, very surprised. In being clear about, like I said earlier about when a job finished, when a job started, little things like making sure that the company that you work for, if they have a company page on LinkedIn, you’re connected to it. So the logo comes up on your LinkedIn, rather than just the gray boxes, little things like that, it is a reflection of you, it’s a reflection of your level to detail. It is more important in my opinion than your resume, because not everyone will see your resume, everyone will see your LinkedIn. So it’s very important. The other thing I will say is make sure your other social media is locked, is on private. Because I have candidates who’ve lost jobs, because they have had interesting Facebook profiles. They’ve had interesting Instagrams. So you want to be very careful about what your message is. On social media. It’s important that you display a professional demeanor, and try and get the other thing I would say is try and get some recommendations. I never see recommendations. I think it’s so important when people have recommendations like testimonials from people, like I can even be like your professor or a colleague that you worked with, but I think it’s like people are missing a trick. Like there’s something about when other people say positive things about you that I think really resonates with with hiring managers. 

Dylan: And that’s really good information too. When it comes to recommendations. Is it better to have a written letter that you submit with a resume? Or is it just right on your LinkedIn kind of thing? 

Catherine: I wouldn’t include it in your resume. I would have it on your LinkedIn. 

Dylan: So ask people hey, can you give me a recommendation on my LinkedIn, cool. Yeah, everybody watching go to my LinkedIn and give me a recommendation.

Catherine: Honestly, like it takes to seconds and you but you want to make sure that you have like current ones. Like I had ones from like, 10 years ago that I was like trying to delete on there because I was like, nobody cares what I was doing in 1995 but I think you really want current ones especially. Every time I have a hiring process, I get asked for references, every single time, sometimes in the beginning, sometimes at the end, but they always come up. And it’s not because someone doesn’t believe this is a good person. It’s just because there’s something about someone else saying what you’re like. And it’s really funny because I did three references for someone the other day. And I spoke to three people that this person had worked with at different companies at different periods of time. And they almost all were verbatim, it would almost have been like the same person I was asking three different people. And it just showed me I was like, Well, this is a good candidate, because here are three individual people who literally said the exact same thing about it down to him being a good photographer, and a funny guy, genuinely. So I can’t overemphasize it enough, whether you’re moving industries, or whether you’re getting into the industry, those kinds of things are super important. 

Dylan: This has been amazing. Honestly, I feel like we all got like a crash course in applying for jobs and how to potentially hire and look for good applicants. So thank you so much. One last question? Because I know a lot of people talk about this, and there’s a lot of debate on it. You mentioned an MBA, do you still think that’s a worthy investment of someone’s time to get an MBA, if they want to go into sustainability, clean tech, renewable energy?

Catherine: I think you should get an MBA, but it needs to be specific. And what I mean by that is there are certain MBAs in my industry that are really held in high regard. Duke, Columbia, Wharton, and not just a because the schools are excellent schools they are, but because they have specific clean energy degrees, that- Johns Hopkins is another one- that when that person graduates, if they don’t have clean energy experience, that degree actually hold some weight that that company knows, well, they did the project finance course. So at Johns Hopkins, so they might not have the energy experience prior to that. But that’s a tough course. It has a ton of modeling and a lot of case studies and clean energy. That’s someone that I’m willing to take a chance on to come in as an analyst. So I think it depends on the MBA, I wouldn’t just do like a general MBA for the sake of doing an MBA ticking a box.

Dylan: Yeah, I’ve had a lot of folks, I’ve been considering going back and getting mine. And I’m fortunate enough to have a business where I own the business, I don’t necessarily need it. But I always think it’s good to continue educating yourself and learning. And that’s what a lot of people said is if you are going to go back, don’t go back and get an or don’t get an MBA just for the sake of getting an MBA, know what you want to do specifically with that and have goals that you’re going to accomplish with it after. So I think that’s really good information. Catherine, thank you so much. There’s been such good information. What as we kind of slowly wrap things up, what are some overall trends that you’re seeing in just the general clean tech, renewable energy, sustainability industries that someone who wants to transition into it in the next couple of years should kind of keep an eye on?

Catherine: I think EV is going crazy. I think it’s going to go even more crazy. I think there’s going to be an enormous amount of opportunities coming up around EV. I think people think EVs, they think cars. I actually think the opportunity for EV is like fleet electrification. Things like trucks, buses, that sort of thing. The other thing would be continuing to look at that SAAS play. I’m just talking about the vast majority of companies I see that are really coming up, have some sort of digital software as a service component within clean energy. The other thing I would say is look in new technologies, because like I was saying earlier, like hydropower, twice this week, I’ve gotten calls about hydropower. Okay, cool. It’s like hydropower. Like, we’re off like, we’re doing it. Like, let’s do it. Because my thing is we can talk about technologies all we like, about hydrogen, we have all these like fancy technologies, but until they’re on my desk, like until people are actually hiring these people, it’s a it that’s what it is. It’s talk. And so I think the same thing with the EV, like I’ve been talking about EV for a decade, but I’ve only just started, I placed people this year. That’s the difference, right? 

Dylan: Yeah, that’s cool. And as you know, overall, clean tech, renewable energy becomes more of a kind of like a talking point in the general public. I think people will start to see different industries. They’re like, Oh, I didn’t even know that was a thing. But that sounds interesting. For example, hydrogen, like I know that’s becoming more and more of a talking point, news, kind of like the mainstream media. And then that’s what’s like, oh man, I’d never thought about that. But maybe I should look into that, because that sounds like something I’m interested in. Yeah. Man, that’s super cool. And I know, I have a lot of friends who are getting their MBAs right now. I have a lot of people who asked me about just kind of making career transitions and switching into this and I’m definitely gonna share this, this conversation, because it’s been super valuable. If anyone wants to reach out or has any questions for you, what’s the best way to get in contact? I’m sure people will. 

Catherine: Yeah, I was gonna say I just like to do one plug for my video series called The Green Light, where I interview clean energy leaders about things like diversity, equity, inclusion and justice. We talked about industry trends, we talked about mentorship, etc, etc, etc. So that’s And we’re just in the process of moving all those videos on to a podcast format as well. It will be on iTunes, which I’m excited about because I would rather be heard than seen. Very self critical about the old video, as Dylan knows. But yeah, if you want to get a hold of me, the best way is LinkedIn. I’m Catherine McLean. 

Dylan: Yeah, reach out. Catherine, thank you so much. That was amazing, such good information and I appreciate sharing that to everybody tuning in. Like I said before, we’re gonna just put together a list of all of these websites and YouTube channels, and we’ll include Green Light as well. I’ve seen a couple episodes and it’s really awesome. And Catherine, thank you for taking the initiative to make that content too. Because it really does make a difference. And who knows has a question for Catherine it will include her contact information as well.

Catherine: Thank you!