I’ve been focused on energy infrastructure for a long time. I started with Siemens back in 2000, as an application engineer in the Orlando Power Generation group. I’ve had roles in product roll-out management and in strategic marketing. Now, I’m a microgrid and distributed energy project business development manager based at Atlanta. My customers will say to me, “I want a microgrid,” and my reply often times is, “Sure, we can support this. But let’s figure out your business goals first. And what infrastructure do you have currently that we can leverage?” If what we’re talking about is a brown-field development, I’d want to figure out how to leverage existing infrastructure and then envision end-use goals to determine what parts we’re missing, and how, control-wise, we can tie in all the various parts together to deliver the desired microgrid solution. Who is most interested in microgrids? Universities, for one, because they’re looking for resiliency and for ways to reduce their carbon footprint and energy consumption. Another driving force with higher education customers is the fact that an advanced energy project on campus, such as microgrid, serves as an excellent research and education platform for the next-generation workforce. When students leave for real-world jobs, they encounter tech and infrastructure that they’ve already had hands-on experience with. The military is another very active customer. Military bases need energy security for mission-critical tasks, so they must have the capability to mitigate outage risk and improve resiliency. Another customer segment is utilities. Sometimes my job is to help utilities create an innovative business model, such as offering microgrid as a service to their customers. A utility could develop a microgrid for, say, a hospital, to provide the reliability and resiliency the hospital needs. It then supplies the linemen and crew to keep that grid operational on that campus. That way, they don’t lose that load; i.e., they don’t lose that customer. They also enhance their customer service and engagement, which is huge for utilities. Understanding the customer’s pain points and business objectives is essential to my work. Back-and-forth communications can dig out what the customer’s needs and intentions are. The tech solution is the least worry I have. No matter the tech challenges, we should always be able to find a solution. I want to hear and understand clients’ problems first, not push products at them. And when they say, “Here’s my problem,” in my mind I’m asking myself how Siemens solved such problems in the past and how that solution could be leveraged here. There is no more powerful way of selling than using real project experience to communicate with your customers. I cherish the relationships that I build with my customers. The biggest compliment I get is when I find out that my customers become my champion within their own organizations, telling their company, “You need to hear Siemens’ solution.” That’s a huge reward for what I do. You become their trusted advisor instead of just another sales person.
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