RobynBeav-7022I didn’t have career ambitions in energy at an early age. But I was raised in a family that valued working hard and respecting people. I learned it was a scary world out there but that it was possible to make good things happen—and that things are constantly changing, that there’s a lot of newness and unexpected events that make it hard to predict what will come next.

I really liked math and science as a kid, but I wasn’t “gifted.” What I liked about both subjects was that you could use them to solve problems, which I thought was really cool. But in business—unlike with math and science—there are some gray areas: economics, irrational psychology, politics.

The thing that makes me hopeful about energy and the climate is that I’m inspired by nature, how it’s resilient and receptive to change. Industry similarly responds to shifts and changes.

I don’t think the challenge is as daunting as we sometimes make it out to be. The tools are there. We are overhauling infrastructure. Solar panels are becoming cost-effective. State governments are allowing new policies, such as distributed power, and encouraging clean generation. It’s not about inventing some crazy, new thing. We just have to focus on scalability.

There’s a lot of opportunity to do great things. For example, there are a lot of inefficient building systems. Our job now is to optimize for efficiency. We need elegant buildings and infrastructure.

In everything I do, I push the built environment toward better design. I have experience across solar, wind, the US Department of Energy, and even consumer tech. Career choices are about learning and producing and finding solutions to the really hard problems.

The older I get, the less it’s about gender. Relative to men and women in energy, I have always felt different from everyone I’ve worked with. Getting people to gel is the goal.

But women should be an important part of sustainability. We are 50 percent of the population. We have a knack for absorbing a lot and for multitasking.

Read up on the rest of our 10 Most Powerful Women in Sustainability here.