Guest post by Sneha Sriwastava, Professional Mentor
One sunny summer day the Director of Marketing at Vista Solar and my musician friend Christie McCarthy introduced me to the TechWomen program. We at Vista Solar were invited to be part of this mentoring program run by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the Department of State. This was a privilege!
This mentorship program is unique. The mentee, called an “Emerging Leader” (EL), is an ambitious young woman with work experience from the Middle East or Africa. After a rigorous selection process these ELs come to get mentored here in the Silicon Valley. Being passionate about sustainability and renewable energy, I jumped at this opportunity. Moreover, the President of Vista Solar, Jaymes Callinan was completely on board, supportive and excited to boot!
By the end of the program, the 5th of November, the TechWomen program for this year fulfilled its mission and is a success, closing with a grandiose lunch and meetings with senior officials in the Department of State in Washington, DC. The ELs completed their five week mentorship project, and left for their home countries. I stand to testify to the enhanced world vision this has provided all of us mentors. We are enriched with the powerful experience. I feel grateful for the support of my company in making this extraordinary program as fruitful as it has been. Some of the key highlights of this program for me go beyond professional experience. As our EL, Asal put it, this was ‘life changing’!
The gateway to greatness opened. We felt stoked to find that we were matched with our brilliant EL Asal Ibrahim. Asal is an electrical engineer working for Clean Energy Concepts in Jordan. Meanwhile, she is also pursuing her Master’s degree in Renewable Energy and Sustainable Development from Hashemite University. After this program, Asal travels to Germany to complete her thesis project at the Fraunhofer University. The CEO of our parent company Silicon Valley Microelectronics, Pat Callinan welcomed Asal warmly and wholeheartedly. Christie and Asal managed to squeeze quite a bit of sightseeing during the few weekends. During the after hours, Asal got her fill of American culture.
The first time I corresponded with Asal, it dawned on me that we were solar sisters! Since then there has been no turning back. Given Asal’s academic bent coupled with her indefatigable drive, this mentorship project was a two way street. We at Vista Solar benefited from this as much as Asal herself. It helped to create a mentorship project integrating Asal’s background to solve our industries practical problems. At Vista Solar we’re constantly trying to improve system performance and predictability, and Asal wanted hands on experience at an EPC. Back home, at Clean Energy Concepts she is on the other side of the solar energy market, involving heavily with project development. Our collective goals seamlessly entwined to make an impactful project. We gained in having her academic approach to derating factors of PV systems. Whereas, Asal gained industry leading hands-on experience with design, installation and post operations monitoring here at Vista Solar.
Visit LinkedIn Pulse to continue reading about Sneha’s experience as a TechWomen Mentor.
Sneha Sriwastava is a Sales Engineer for California based commercial solar design and installation firm, Vista Solar. Sneha designs, engineers and runs cost estimates for solar energy systems for large scale commercial installations at Vista Solar using her comprehensive technical knowledge of photovoltaic system design, energy modeling, financing and installation. Sneha earned an MS in Renewable Energy Engineering from University of Massachusetts, Lowell. She has authored a technical paper on Concentrating Parabolic Collector that she presented at the American Solar Energy Society.