Joe Bielawski

Clean Transportation Project Manager III

The below interview has been edited for brevity and clarity. 

How did you get to where you are today? What was your training or education?

I joined the Marines just out of high school and got involved in operations and logistics in aviation. While in that field, I was introduced to the concept of “Lean Six Sigma,” which I immediately found interesting. If you’re not familiar with Six Sigma, it is a set of quality management techniques and tools that were developed in the 1980s. Over the years, a lot of corporations have adopted it as part of their management strategy. There are certifications that individuals can earn as they increase their knowledge of the strategy. 

Joe Bielawski

I earned my Lean Six Sigma Black Belt certification (which is the highest level of Six Sigma certifications) and went to work for the Department of the Navy in Washington, D.C. While there, I transferred my military sales skills to project management of government contracts, which allowed me to use my skills from my Six Sigma certification. I wanted to use my GI Bill to go to college to learn more about government contracting but there weren’t any degree programs with this focus. I ended up essentially creating my own program between the University of the Potomac and the Department of the Navy, earning my bachelor’s in government contract management. 

What drew me to clean transportation was that the industry is new and constantly innovating by addressing things that people can’t, won’t or don’t know how to do or make. 

Looking back, I didn’t know what I wanted to do but I used the skills and experience that I had to help me find direction.

Joe Bielawski Career Roadmap

What does a typical week look like for you?

My projects are different every week, but the flow of the week is similar across weeks. For example, I have about 25 hours a week of meetings and spend about 16 hours a week working on projects. Our meetings are highly productive with the time spent collaborating, planning and making sure people are on the same page.

On Mondays and Wednesdays, we review new customers coming into the program and make sure that they are moving along through the customer intake process. We’ll address any technical questions that have come in from the customers themselves or the sales team. The rest of the week is spent on project stakeholder collaboration.

No matter how busy my day is, I spend two hours or so focused on my own work, ensuring that I’m meeting deadlines and handling priorities.

What is something you find challenging about your job? 

There are so many steps involved in getting a project from initial customer interest through to the moment that they can plug in and charge their car. Any one of these 100 different steps can produce a roadblock or complication that slows down implementation. Even minor complications can delay or derail projects for weeks, or even months.

What do you love most about your job?

My favorite part of my work is educating customers on the technical aspects of electrification and moving forward with helping them develop a plan for electrification. I love sharing my technical knowledge as opposed to doing paperwork. 

Joe Bielawski

What advice do you have for others thinking about working in clean energy infrastructure planning and management? 

Don’t be afraid to blaze a new path. Look for the role or take on the job or the task that other people are not willing to do. Look for those jobs that maybe other people find hard because these are the jobs that will challenge you to grow and learn completely new things.

Learn what’s new across industries and take steps outside of your comfort zone. You don’t have to be an expert in something to apply; if you have some knowledge or experience and a drive to learn, then you should go for it. For example, being able to problem solve, be decisive, take ownership over results and adapt to changing circumstances are skills as valuable as experience. 

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San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E)
Bachelor's from University of the Potomac