The below interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
How did you get to where you are today? What was your training and/or education?
I got my degree in social studies because I thought I wanted to go into law. However, I realized I wanted work experience instead. So, I started working at an office job with a telecom company. My work was in customer service, but I was the only staff member who was fluent in English and French, so I was tasked with creating an RFP because it was in French. I was attentive to the details and rigorous in making sure prospective vendors had the things the RFP requested. I ended up really liking the work and decided to stick with grant writing. In my current work, I collaborate with many different stakeholders, both internal and external, such as sales, commercial operations, finance, investor relations, engineering and government relations.
For 25 years, I’ve worked in public affairs working for companies where I believe in their product. If you don’t believe in what you’re doing, there’s a good chance you’ll be miserable at work. I believe that your personal values must align, at least a little bit, to whatever it is that you’re participating in and working on.
Describe your job. What does a typical day look like for you?
We really don’t have a “typical week” here at Lion because every project is so unique, and mostly confidential, so I can’t talk about them in much detail. The projects involve fleets of buses and trucks that can be used publicly (i.e., by school districts, government) or privately (i.e., companies that want to switch to electric fleets).
From a management perspective, there are some basic tasks that I attend to weekly. For example, managing my team, making sure they have the resources and tools they need, improving productivity, reviewing the team’s work and strategy alignment with other departments. Additionally, I support grant applications and respond to RFPs on behalf of our clients and on behalf of Lion. We work with private citizens as well if they qualify based on grant terms.
What is something you find challenging about your job?
One challenge that has appeared as I’m trying to sell an electric bus to a district or company is that people ask if it’s a real thing. They think that electric buses are still in the concept phase and don’t realize that they’re actively manufactured and in use.
What do you love most about your job?
I love working with my team. They’ve faced many tough situations through COVID-19 but they always come back stronger.
My favorite type of day on the job is when we win a new contract or when a new piece of legislation in support of electric vehicles is launched. I enjoy sharing information about the benefits of electric buses with clients, especially when they aren’t familiar with electric buses.
What advice do you have for others thinking about working in energy, construction and utilities?
If you want to pursue a career in this industry, look deeper into those companies and individuals who are working with electric vehicles to learn more about the sector, like school districts. Also, intern at a company where your values align.
If you are interested in protecting the environment, the electrification of transportation is the industry of the future. This is such a new sector and has kept me extremely busy during the pandemic. To succeed in this sector, creativity is a necessity because what you know today might change in two weeks. You’ve got to be passionate about the industry to keep up with the pace at which it is evolving. Keep in mind that people are in a rush to innovate even more, so there will continue to be a lot more (healthy) competition. For example, a push to advance materials, to more efficiently charge vehicles, along with more research and development in a variety of offerings are down the line. Even electrical planes are on the horizon as batteries become more powerful. Eventually diesel vehicles will be a historical relic.