Claire Elkin

Operational Excellence Manager and Sustainability Lead

RES (Renewable Energy Systems)

A headshot portrait of Claire Elkin, wearing a black blazer over a grey t shirt.

What is your role at your company? What are your responsibilities/focus areas?

I am responsible for day-to-day aspects of continuous improvement within the business units. The focus of my role is to identify gaps, provide constructive challenge, put into place simple, quick, and effective solutions, and ensure teams are following subsequent standard procedures and process. On top of my full-time role, I am also the sustainability lead for our Americas offices. I lead a committee of over 20 people and work to identify and implement, continuous ESG improvements across our business units.

What was your pathway to getting a career in the industry? What did you study in school or previous job specific training did you complete?

Prior to working at RES, I worked as a project engineer for four years in commercial hospitality construction. It was during my time as a project engineer where I learned the many different layers of construction and developed an understanding of project management systems used within the construction industry. My ability to learn and understand one of the most widely used project management systems is what allowed me to get my foot in the door at a RES. I had always known I wanted to be in the renewables sector, and this skill set made it possible for me to qualify for the position I have today. My undergraduate education in Business Administration, Entrepreneurship, and my graduate degree in Organizational Leadership, Strategic Innovation and Change, contributed to my success within the industry. My education has taught me how to identify needs of the business, influence colleagues, prioritize deployment, train, and implement solutions.

Additional Questions

Why did you choose a job in clean power? What was it about a career in the industry that appealed to you?

When I moved to Colorado, I saw firsthand the impact climate change has on our communities and economy. The droughts, wildfires, excessive heat, reduction in snow fall, etc. were events I had never experienced having grown up in the Midwest. This lit a fire in me to do more and encouraged me to apply for a position in an industry that aligned with my values.

What is the best part of your job?

The best part of my job is working with stakeholders across our entire business. I feel fortunate to be able to collaborate with all levels of leadership and departments across the business.

How does your background and fundamental skill set support your current role?

To be successful in my role I need to be able to implement change effectively. My education and previous work experiences prepared for me for this because they taught me how to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. The more I put myself in difficult situations the easier it became to navigate conflict and decipher what changes provide the most value.

What is the best decision you ever made at work or that impacted your career? And the worst?

Best: I moved to a state where I knew very few people and took a job in an industry, I was unfamiliar with. This move opened a lot of doors for me and taught me how to network and build a community.

Worst: All my decisions and experiences have allowed me to end up where I’m at today. If I could change a decision and still be where I’m at today, it would have been to leave a position sooner when I knew I wasn’t valued.

What advice would you give to the next generation of the workforce? What do you wish you had known at the beginning of your career?

  1. Don’t expect your first, second, or even third job to be your “dream job”. It takes doing a lot of what you don’t want to do, to qualify for the job you do want to do.
  2. Don’t feel pigeonholed in an industry. You can always do something new if you effectively demonstrate how your experience will add value to their organization.
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