2011 was a terrible year for me. My father had passed away in a car accident and my husband and I were underemployed due to the economic recession. We moved to the Washington D.C. metro for new job opportunities, but it was tough tackling my grief without a support system.
I started working at ICF International (a large consulting firm) shortly after the move and felt like I was immediately enveloped in warmth and love from my, coincidentally, all-female team. Together we tackled a slew of alternative transportation fuel challenges for our clients, including electric vehicles — which were just starting to take off.
It was fun to learn about this new and complex world of EVs as a group. We supported many public and private sector clients that were trying to figure out how to adapt infrastructure for EVs, support EV growth, provide information to the public, and plan for an EV future. Because there weren’t so many EV experts at that point, in some ways it was easier to be vulnerable about our personal knowledge gaps with other team members and to appreciate a colleague sharing their knowledge with you. In addition to learning from each other, we celebrated each others important life events, gave each other personal and professional advice, and enjoyed lots of laughter, leading to life-long friendships. The best word to describe what we experienced was ‘incubator’.
A decade later these remarkable women continue to share their EV knowledge and skills every day, still collaborating at times from across the country despite job and life changes. Stacy Noblet, Alexis Schayowitz, and Carrie Giles remain at ICF and have helped countless clients with their EV needs. Abby Brown now oversees EV work for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Sara Forni is a senior EV leader at Ceres, Carrie Ryder is deploying EV chargers at Electrify America, I oversee global EV strategy for the World Resources Institute, and Alex Jamis works at Engie on renewable energy origination (THE power source for EVs!).
It was incredible to witness – firsthand – the birth of an entirely new industry. Like most new things, it was tough to predict if it was just a passing fad or if it would actually materialize into something important. As women early in our careers, it was a big gamble, but it paid off professionally and the EV industry was the lucky recipient of more female leaders.
Based on my own experience, I’m convinced that our industry needs more of these all-female incubators to help train the next generation of EV industry professionals.