Vice President and Chief Impact Officer, Solar Axiom, LLC
www.solaraxiom.com | https://www.linkedin.com/in/amathena/
What kind of work do you do?
I am the Vice President and Chief Impact Officer for Solar Axiom. We do Commercial Solar Energy Development (really similar to real estate development but with solar energy systems). Most of our clients are resorts in the Caribbean, but we also have projects in the Tampa Bay area.
Who is your ideal client?
Our ideal client cares about the environment, has been in business for a long time, pays high energy rates and wants to benefit from the cost savings solar creates, most of our clients do not want to make the initial investment of a solar energy system and Solar Axiom can provide savings through solar leases or power purchase agreements depending on what is allowed with the local energy regulators and/or utility
Our best clients also understand the delays in shipment and permits that can often be unforeseeably delayed when building in another country.
What advice would you give young women entering the “company’s industry” today?
Energy development has been largely male dominated but we have an opportunity in the renewable energy market to change that dynamic. Thousands of new jobs and opportunities are being created in Renewables.
- If you are considering engineering- Commercial scale solar needs highly skilled electrical engineers.
- Interested in finance and/or impact investing
- Import/Exporting system components like panels or inverters
- Microgrid and multi technology integration
- Sales and Project Development
There are not a ton of experts or veterans in the field since it is a new space that is evolving rapidly and with so many jobs becoming available I think it’s a great time for women to be applying for them and not getting in their head that they don’t have experience in solar or wind energy etc. What you need is strong applicable skills- the renewable portion can be taught.
How has COVID-19 affected your job/company?
As you can imagine, with our current and prospective customers in the Caribbean tourism industry, business looked bleak at best as soon as lockdowns started. We also had 2 projects in the middle of construction. We quickly realized that there was not much we could do but wait it out. Anything that stopped business was 100% out of our control. One construction project stopped and started about 5 different times, the Second had similar issues but we also had supply delays and a couple hurricane threats on top of the lockdown restrictions. We already keep overhead lean, but we also took on some consulting assignments unrelated to Solar to help cover the overhead until we can get back to our prospective clients and finalize the contracts that were paused last March. Some of those countries are beginning to open up as vaccinations become available to them.
What do you like most about your job/company?
It is a small family owned business that I manage with my father and a partner who is practically family. Since we are small we all wear a lot of hats and as stressful and as exhausting as that sometimes can be, I have had a seat at the table and given a lot of responsibility and mentoring that I don’t believe I would have received at a larger company. That aspect has given me a lot of confidence as a businesswoman. As a mother with two young boys, 2 and 6, I have also had a lot of flexibility.
Our mission, what drives us and why we came together to start Solar Axiom is what makes me passionate about our work. We are replacing dirty fuel powered energy with clean solar on properties that are literally sitting next to some of the worlds most precious coral reef systems. In addition the cost to produce energy in the islands is insane so we are also creating savings for our customers and they can reinvest that capital into improving their business and employing people. The end product is extremely gratifying. My last business trip before the pandemic was January 2020 to Roatan to visit one of our solar facilities in construction and to meet with other prospective clients on the island. As we drove up to the site I began to see the panels shining behind the dense tropical landscape and then once we were at the site, I could hear the water from the reef just beyond and I was completely overwhelmed with emotion. As soon as I got choked up it was contagious- my father became emotional and so did our installation partner. Solar panels mounted in roofs in a city setting don’t have the same visual impact. I feel like the work we are doing really makes a difference. My long hours at the office or work trips away from my family aren’t in vain but contributing to something bigger than myself.
How long have you been a member of TBOWIT and what drew you to TBOWIT?
Olga Pina invited me to a lunch and learn Fall 2019 and she told me to come to the conference. It just so happened I wasn’t travelling and I love networking and learning from other women in business, so I went. I was literally blown away. I felt so empowered and inspired and I knew that this was a truly unique group. It was great to speak with other women who understood the additional challenges that working internationally presents.
What is one thing you want members to know about you?
I love to meet new people and I am constantly amazed by all the different careers people have in our area. I like to be around people who like to lift each other up.
What has been one of your favorite TBOWIT events?
I loved the annual conference. But I also have enjoyed the webinars a lot.
What do you love about the Tampa Bay area?
I love how our city keeps evolving and that there is a lot of different things to do (when there’s not a global pandemic) I love that there are so many types of restaurants and activities- that we can get to the beach in 30 minutes. And since I travel frequently- I REALLY appreciate our airport. Why aren’t all airports designed like TPA?