This International Women’s Day, the Sun Badger team is bursting with pride to declare that our Operations Team is run entirely by wickedly smart, sharp-witted, crazy talented, super strong women. We sat down with each one to take a deeper look at what it’s like to be a woman in the solar industry and the role diversity plays for the industry as a whole.

Wanessa Vovola

Vice President

Why do you enjoy working in the Solar Industry?
The construction industry can be wasteful. Even folks who are trying hard to stay environmentally friendly and keep material out of landfills typically fall a bit short. I know what we are doing isn’t just a desirable home or business upgrade option, it is necessary if we as a society are going to try to at least curb the effects of global warming and minimize environmental damage.

How do you feel about working in an industry that is typically male-focused?
I’m pretty used to it. I’ve been in the construction industry for 20 years and it can often be a boys club. I have worked in many environments where I was the only woman in the whole organization and while I love what I do and appreciate all the awesome men in my world, it can be easy to feel outnumbered. I didn’t plan on having an entirely female run Operations Team, but I am grateful to have the opportunity to put together a team of rad, accomplished ladies to run the show with me.

Why do you think diversity is important in the Solar Industry?
It is important in every industry. Diversity brings different ways of thinking and implementing changes that are necessary for any industry to thrive and flourish. But yes, it is very important to have different voices heard in the construction and design game especially because a forward-thinking industry like solar needs to be able to take all ideas, points of view, processes and situations into consideration. It is the only way to move forward.

Carley Burke

Project Manager

Why do you enjoy working in the Solar Industry?
It’s very exciting to be in a rapidly growing industry. Working in solar gives me job satisfaction I thought I’d never have the chance to enjoy – every day is different, and I’m doing work to improve our environment. We get to educate people on the benefits of going solar, both environmentally and financially, and I truly feel that our work is contributing to the greater good.

How do you feel about working in an industry that is typically male-focused?
I cannot lie – working in this male-dominated industry has been pretty intimidating. However, our company’s Operational Team is comprised of women only, and I have felt so empowered since I started working with this team. Despite many key players in the industry being men, I have met several incredible women in the solar industry who are kicking butt. I have a hunch that the tides are turning and we should expect more equality heading our way. I’m very optimistic that the solar industry will recognize and welcome women into more leadership roles.

Why do you think diversity is important in the Solar Industry?
The whole idea of going solar is, for many, very forward-thinking. If our goal is to improve our collective future, our efforts must include a more diverse workforce. We need different backgrounds and perspectives if we truly want to be forward-thinking. Solar must be accessible to all if we want to see a clean energy economy, and in order for that to happen, we need to have inclusive representation in its workforce. Our team has made some baby steps with its women-led operations team, but I am hopeful that we can continue to grow in inclusivity and diversity.

Layla Malia K.

Contract Administrator

Why do you enjoy working in the Solar Industry?
I know that Green Energy is the future, and I’m so excited to be a part of the growth!
How do you feel about working in an industry that is typically male-focused?
Since I have always worked in a predominately all male industry my whole career, it is something I am used to… that being said, the fact that our Illinois location is run by intelligent, fierce, and dedicated women is something that I am genuinely proud to be a part of. As we all know, women run the world.

Why do you think diversity is important in the Solar Industry?
Cultural diversity is important in the solar industry because our country increasingly consists of various cultural, racial and ethnic groups. When we are working with people and building relationships with them, it helps to have perspective and understanding of their cultures. And because of having a diverse workplace, it brings different benefits to the company as well as the employees.

What woman (or women) inspires you?
For me, the woman who inspired me my whole life and made me the woman I am today was my mother. She was an amazing artist, musician and human being. She taught me how to be my true authentic self, to be honest with not only myself but with those around me. She taught me to stand up for what’s right and at the same time, showed me how to also lift up others around me. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t miss her… I will always honor and remember the moments I had with her while she was here, and continue to be the woman I am, the woman she raised.

Chris Parkinson

Project Manager

Why do you enjoy working in the Solar Industry?
Solar energy is quickly becoming the primary source of energy all over the world and it is very satisfying to be part of that growth. The feeling of pride in what I do, and the knowledge that all of my efforts in this field contribute to the greater good is very exciting and satisfying!

How do you feel about working in an industry that is typically male-focused?
Throughout my career, I’ve typically worked in male-dominated fields such as Construction Management. I usually find that a woman’s voice and perspective in this and other industries changes the conversation. In my experience, women often tend to be better diplomats and problem solvers because we tend to be better communicators. I’ve typically had more success in certain areas than men because of my ability to communicate clearly and follow up quickly. Keeping clients, partners, co-workers and tradesmen aware of changes in the project tends to keep things moving forward towards a timely finish. Everybody loves being on time and under budget! Diversity is important in Solar just as any industry. You have to appreciate that your clients will be a variety of types of folks. Your staff should be too!

Why do you think diversity is important in the Solar Industry?
Diversity is important in Solar just as any industry. You have to appreciate that your clients will be a variety of types of folks. Your staff should be too!

What woman (or women) inspires you?
The latest woman that inspires me is Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She worked around limitations and never gave up. She’s still doing that today!

We want to thank our Operations Team for letting us pick their brains (we know how busy you are!) and for choosing to share their passion and talent with our team day in and day out. We also want to applaud all of the hard working, non-working, soon-to-be working, and thank-goodness-I’m-done working women of the world. We are thrilled to see more women working in solar everyday and cannot wait to see what the future holds for the industry and the women we couldn’t run it without.

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