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Candidate Testimonies: Janet Lee

Janet is excited to work in Climate Adaptation and use her skills to inform companies about impending extreme weather events and ultimately help us adapt to the changing world that we’re living in today.

Candidate Testimonies: Janet Lee

We Recently Placed Janet Lee as the Head of Product at Salient Predictions


NATALIE: My name is Natalie Lavery and I'm the Marketing Lead here at Climate People. I'm joined by Janet Lee and our founder, Brendan, to discuss Janet's journey getting a job in climate, and really go over all these obstacles and all of the things that she had to overcome to get to where she is today. So, Janet, would you mind starting out by just telling us about your experience getting a job in climate?

JANET: Sure, Natalie. Let's see. So I first heard about Climate People through Brendan during the pandemic. I had actually taken some time off. I left my job and I really wanted to think about what my priorities were during the midst of the pandemic and wanted to spend some time just volunteering at different organizations.

I was just getting back to looking to see what was in the job market and opened up my LinkedIn profile after a long hiatus. There had been a message from Brendan from a few months ago, and I knew that position was probably filled. I picked it back anyway and luckily he had a new role in mind.

So that's how my journey originally got started.

NATALIE: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. So what was it about climate that piqued your interest? Why did you want to respond to that recruiter's message?

JANET: Yeah, I mean, it's kind of crazy right now, which I'm sure you're aware of that. Literally, within my coming back to the job market, I had like so many interviews with various companies.

I felt a little inundated with opportunities, but I was really attracted to the climate one because I really had this kind of thinking that I had over the past year about what did I want to prioritize in my life. At this point, I really wanted to try to align my work life with my values.

I was hoping I would be able to find a role that was more mission-driven. I definitely had lots of pings from companies that were helping to drive sales, which I had done in the past. Like all kinds of other domains, but, this was the one that definitely grabbed my interest.

I had worked in the energy space in the past. I also considered a mission-driven company as well, and I just found out of all of the places I had worked that I had the best experience, it was my favorite company to work within. A lot of it had to do with both the mission and how we felt like. Every day we were gonna make a difference in the world, hopefully. Also, the people were just so great. I think maybe people who work in climate are just more nurturing and supportive and I really wanted to find another role and company that offered a lot of the same things. A great culture, great technology, and then also like a major benefit of having an impact and benefiting society and trying to do your small part in contributing to that.

NATALIE: Yeah, definitely. You brought up a lot of really good points there, especially working on something that aligns with your values.

I think that's something that we hear constantly. People say I could work a job and make good money and have a great culture, but if I'm not working on that bigger picture or not something that I really care about, it's kind of obsolete. So yeah, that definitely makes sense. And thank you so much for wanting to get a job in climate. It definitely makes a big impact. Did you experience any barriers when you were looking to get this job or was it kind of just smooth sailing?

JANET: I would not say it was smooth sailing. It was a long process. It took two months from my first conversation to just recently accepting the job offer.

So yes, there were lots of ups and downs. You know, just the anxiety of job hunting. As far as barriers to the experience, I mean, there was definitely a technical one, I'm not a scientist and they originally wanted someone who with geospatial experience, which I did not have.

I wanted to be frank with them that that's not something I had, but I think I was able to show that given my kind of very diverse experiences, always working in enterprise SaaS software, I worked in everything from sales and marketing to supply chain management to retail.

So lots of diverse types of organizations. I think I was able to show that despite the different customer needs, I was always able to learn the space and that I was willing to put in the time and effort to learn the terminology and immerse myself. So I think that helped overcome that technical barrier of joining this company.

NATALIE: Yeah, definitely. You're definitely not the first person that we've heard say that a lot of people say I don't have climate experience, I can't get a job in climate. And in reality, you're a prime example that that's not the case. Like if you have the skillset and you have these experiences, you can learn the terminology, you can learn the climate impact piece.

Do you have any advice for people who are in a similar boat that are telling themselves they're not qualified because they don't have that climate experience?

JANET: I think you can emphasize those experiences that you have for that specific role. I'm in product, so I was able to show that, I had grown and I had built products successfully in the past in lots of different organizations. I had the right background from that experience standpoint. Overcoming the knowledge barrier was again showing that I had been able to do this in the past.

So there's that, and yeah, just by being enthusiastic and showing your commitment to the cause.

NATALIE: That makes a lot of sense. I know you said earlier that one of your main barriers was the anxiety of going to interviews and all of that but you also touched on how the climate space is a little bit different in terms of it being welcoming and open.

Did you notice any parallels between that and the interview process? Was it different than other interviews that you've done before?

JANET: Yes, absolutely. I mean the CEO, Matt Stein, who I spent a lot of in the initial conversations with was always transparent through that. The entire process made me also want to be honest and forthcoming about my strengths and weaknesses.

I was having lots of parallel experiences with other companies at the same time. I would definitely say Climate People and Salient Predictions, which is the company I'm joining, were by far my best experiences. I always knew that I wanted to join them, especially compared to all the other people I was speaking with. They just did not show the same care for you as a person, as this company did. It was black and white  

NATALIE: That's awesome to hear. I'm so glad that you had a good experience. Could you touch a little bit on the job that you'll be taking and what you'll be doing?

JANET: Mm-hmm, so I will be joining Salient Predictions, as a Head of Product and they have a cutting-edge weather forecasting technology that's machine-based.

I was actually on my very first customer call today. Everything that I expected about the company is right, the potential is so great between the technology that they have and my goal is to help them leverage that great technology and find ways that we can bring the value of that more directly to the customers. So going beyond scientists who might be using that platform today to like actually delivering greater business value and helping them find the path from where they are today to that growth stage and also helping them to because they're a pretty small startup.

Helping them try to find a standardization to their processes for making decisions and building the roadmap. And then of course having fun and growing with the team as we try to grow the company. So yeah, that's what I'm looking forward to.

NATALIE: That's awesome. That's such a fun position to be in, to be able to make decisions that make such a big impact.

Yeah, it's so exciting. What did you originally think a career in climate would look like and does your new position fit that mold?

JANET: Well, let's see. Did I have any expectations? As I said, I had worked at an energy company before, I was hoping to find something that had similar characteristics to that. This company's much smaller than the one I had worked with earlier, but, I'm definitely attracted to working at startups in kind of that very focused environment. Trying to figure out what direction to move in.

So far, it's definitely meeting my expectations of the potential of the technology. Like one thing about weather forecasting, I was a little unsure of how accurate it would be, and then hearing the customer today say like, you know, the "head runs and backtesting and their results were amazing."

So that gives me a lot of confidence that we'll be able to be successful.

NATALIE: Yeah, definitely. And this is a little bit of a non-traditional if you will, climate solution. So it's a very interesting way to go about it. In your eyes, where does that climate impact lie within this?

JANET: So with the weather forecasting, it's unique in that they do what they call seasonal and sub-seasonal forecasting for two to 52 weeks out in advance. That time period happens to align with a lot of the business decisions and planning horizons for a lot of businesses.

So, we foresee this being able to help people, businesses, and people basically adapt to climate change. To prevent minimizing losses, helping businesses to be prepared for these extreme weather events that are happening. So as a short-term solution, we're trying to find a way to, address climate change.

A lot of businesses and people adapt to the kind of the world that we're living in today and mitigate some of those risks.

BRENDAN: This is particularly an area of interest because we started the company originally around this idea of helping mobilize a workforce transition to get people working on addressing climate issues.

As I grew in my knowledge base and discovery the issues with climate change. It's not just a matter of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and decarbonizing the various sectors of the economy climate change is in these extreme weather events.

As you mentioned, these events are only going to continue to happen, even if we stopped burning fossil fuels and emitting greenhouse gases, we're still gonna deal with the impacts of climate change for decades to come. So, climate adaptation is really important to keep the rest of our society going.

We oftentimes hear from candidates that are very interested in moving into the space that they want a direct reduction of greenhouse gasses, or they want to work on a nature-based solution, which, I totally get. I actually felt the exact same way, but now that I'm in this space, we really need people that also see the importance and the value of climate adaptation, because the way our society works today, won't continue to work that way if we aren't prepared to adapt to a changing world. So I just, I'd like to echo what you're saying for those that are gonna watch this video, how important climate adaptation is. And I really applaud you for taking that step because it's a really meaningful solution.

JANET: Yeah, absolutely. I feel like all the things that we can do to reduce greenhouse emissions are great. We should always try to do our best there, but it's a longer-term solution. And then this will have a direct impact. Like it can help save lives and prevent people from like losing their homes and things like that.

If they have advanced warnings about flooding or hurricanes or things like that.

NATALIE: Definitely like the climate solutions are not straightforward. They're very much threefold in every way, shape, and form. You have to come at it from so many different angles to even begin to address it. So definitely, I think the work that you're doing now and you will be doing will play a big part in that.

I think that was all the questions I had, unless, Brendan, you had anything else that you just touched on before we wrap up and talk about our 1% For The Planet program.

BRENDAN: No, I think that's good. I mean, you touched on it before. Aruna loved to work with you.

We appreciate that you responded to that LinkedIn message, right? Because to your point, people get inundated with messages. What we're trying to do is figure out a way, how do we reach people where they are and how do we introduce them to these opportunities? So I don't know if there's any last advice that you would have to pass along to prospective candidates about or people that might be interested in climate careers.

For us, one of our biggest barriers is creating this awareness piece and getting people to realize that these are really meaningful and impactful careers, that also happen to be good careers, they pay well and you can get good stock options and all that stuff. So, any last advice or words of wisdom there?

JANET: I mean, I think your website is amazing, although, I never would've found it had you not reached out to me. I think one piece of advice might be to go to networking events. Like I used to be part of the Boston Product Management Association, where we would often hold networking events for people who are looking for jobs.

We would invite recruiters to come to them. Doing things like that, I think there are a lot of people who are interested in working in climate, but yeah, getting yourself out there. The work that you're doing is great! Before we sign off, I do wanna give a shout-out to Aruna because she was amazing.

She is the nicest person I worked with ever, of all recruiters, but also just like a genuinely nice person. I've never met her in person. I've only talked to her over the phone and texted. As I said, this was kind of, like any job searching experience, a pretty stressful one that took over two months.

She like held my hand the entire way. She was a shoulder to cry on. She would give me advice. She reviewed my presentations. I can't say enough about Aruna, you should feel lucky to have her and I'm so glad I met her.

BRENDAN: Yeah, I couldn't agree more. We know we're so lucky to have her. I've had the pleasure of calling Aruna a friend for 15 years. We worked together 15 years ago and have stayed in touch and the very early seeds of Climate People growing into a company, she was somebody that I would talk to and seek counsel and discuss what my plans were. I was lucky enough after getting the business off the ground for a year to get her to come and be a part of this.

NATALIE: She is a gem. So, thank you for that. Perfect so quickly before we wrap up, obviously our sole mission is to get more people working on climate, but we also have a partnership with 1% For The Planet, which is where we essentially donate 1% of every placement fee to an environmental non-profit of the candidate's choosing.

So we sent over a few options. I can give you a quick little refresher if you need it. But did you have a chance to look at those and decide which one you want to donate to?

JANET: I would love to donate to the Alex Honnold Foundation for their work in solar energy. I think while I'm working on the short-term solution, I think investing in solar is definitely part of the long-term solution.

I would love to have my donation go to them.

NATALIE: Perfect. Yeah, they're a great organization. So thank you so much for that. Awesome. Well, thank you again, Janet, for taking the time to talk with us today, we really appreciate everything that you've said and done, and also for taking your job in climate.

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