Interview with Karen Lalley, SVP at People Nexamp
Watch the latest video from Dylan Green with Karen Lalley, SVP at People Nexamp discussing the importance of industry passions for clean energy hires.
Catherine: So tell me a little bit about how Covid-19 has affected onboarding and some lessons learned.
Karen: We have hired candidates throughout this process and they have started remotely, even if their job would have been in the office. Some of the things that we have learned is the importance of regularly interacting with new hires before their actual start date. So, mailing out company swag, touching base with them on a regular basis, having other members of the team touch base with them, whether it’s work related or not, and just really helping them feel like a part of the team and getting ready to onboard. And that’s something that I think we will continue to do even when and if we are back in the office. Some of the other things we have done, and this is not just for new hires, but managers are having much more routine check-ins with their group. I personally have a daily what we call brunch with my team. And those are designed to keep somewhat work related but they’re really designed just to have a time to talk. Sometimes they are theme related, ‘what are you guys thankful for today?’ or ‘what’s one thing in your room that you could point to that you can tell us a story about?’ just sharing personal thoughts and establishing connections. I think managers across the organization are doing that much more often than they would have before. My team today, and I, actually, were talking about how we actually see and meet each other much more now than we did when we were in the office.
Catherine: How important is it to have a passion for clean technology to be in the space?
Karen: We do prefer to hire people who have a strong passion for the clean renewable energy space. However, if there’s an interest or even a curiosity about that space, that’s enough because I can guarantee you that once you join us it’ll become a passion once you’re onboard. It’s one of our company values and everyone from our leadership team on down is passionate about and involved in the cause, some of them even politically. So it’s bound to rub off, but I think we can determine, even at the interview process, if someone really just wants a job or if they’re really looking to come work for us, and that’s definitely preferable for us.
Catherine: What’s one piece of advice you would give to women who are thinking of joining the solar industry?
Karen: I would say “just do it.” It’s simple, but this is my second traditionally male dominated industry for which I’ve worked, the first one being in game development, and sure there are challenges and there are struggles that come along with it, but it’s also nice just to be part of the wave of change. And the other thing I’d also advise, because I was guilty of this early on, is to just not overthink everything you do. You be you and let that shine through. I tended to feel like I always had to be perfect. And I think, just kind of letting yourself be you and not overthinking things is helpful.
Catherine: There is a lot of evidence that remote work helps women climb the career ladder. Do you think we will see a cultural shift to women being in more senior leadership positions in the future, because, you know, remote working is most likely going to be here to stay in some capacity more than it was previously.
Karen: Ideally, I’d like to see a shift in our overall culture, so worldwide culture, so the workplace, whether it’s remote or in the office, adapts to the needs of families. I’d prefer seeing more women in leadership positions as a result of the cultural change, than I would because we happen to be more accepting of remote work. I think overall as a country, we need to be more results oriented, not so much location or clocked hours in the workplace oriented, and if you’re hitting your goals, then I personally don’t care if you’re working 35 or 60 hours, and I definitely don’t care where you are when you’re getting it done. So while I think it’s nice that remote work helps women climb the career ladder, I wish that our culture didn’t lend itself to that being true.