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Tenacity Rules the Day for This Seasoned Woman in Renewables: Cynthia Christensen

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July 15, 2022

You know what they say – to truly understand someone you must walk a mile in their shoes. For Cynthia Christensen, Senior Market Development Manager in Ulteig’s Renewables sector, the idiom is more than a saying – it’s her career reality. Cynthia has been in many roles within the Renewables industry, building her vast network and deep industry knowledge wherever she goes. At Ulteig, Cynthia’s first-hand experience gives her a unique understanding of client hurdles and goals and is a vital piece of the puzzle in solving the challenges of today’s industry. 

Maybe you’ve been right alongside her since the early days, or perhaps you’ve already met with her at the multitude of tradeshows and conferences she engages in with Ulteig. If you don’t already know Mrs. Christensen, now is the time to walk a mile in her shoes as she reflects on her past career and imagines the future in Renewables. Ironically, Cynthia enjoys hiking and running in her free time, so we hope you can keep up with her! 

How did you get into the Renewables industry and where does your passion stem from? 

“I came into the renewables industry through the semi-conductor and material processing side of the industry. In the mid-90s, the solar industry was in its pioneering period. The crystal growth process of silicon and feedstock was costly, and new ways of growing, producing and optimizing the raw material was needed if the industry was going to be competitive. I was fortunate in my early years to work with truly passionate pioneers and mentors, whose vision to proliferate solar technology by driving down costs and exploiting technology efficiencies are the foundations of the industry today.” 

“I believe in a purpose-lived life. I am blessed to have seen the industry grow from the original risk-taking frontiers, who plowed the field of early technologies and whose tenacity brought us to a mainstream industry with a validated technology for energy resource planning. I am excited to see a cleaner environment for my children and their children. To see science and technology become more inclusive and the gender gap in this field come into balance. I am passionate about mentoring, as the next generation of brilliant minds and innovators will address the challenges of our environment.” 

What led you to your current role at Ulteig? 

“I found myself at Ulteig through a number of industry associates and friends who thought my consulting experience and years in the industry would be a good fit. In past roles, I had worked with Ulteig as a developer, financier and EPC contractor and could see the growth that was taking place in their Renewables sector. Ulteig provides a unique view in the tempo of the industry while solving problems and providing solid engineering engagements with a wide variety of clients. The engagement style and collaborative culture is what drew me to Ulteig.” 

What is your most memorable client interaction or success story? 

“I’ve had the advantage of being in a position of seeing the Renewables sector mature from infancy to full energy adaption. On the material side, I was an instrumental contributor to a process for reducing significant costs by a material growth process and a sectioning process.  When I first introduced the process to the industry, the concept was met with reservation and push-back – mostly from the established industry players. It then took six years to convert plants from the conventional methods.  

One of the biggest naysayers at a conference later expressed that this process was one of the biggest explanations of why the cost down had occurred. Charlie Gay, the head of the SunShot program and one of my mentors always told me that tenacity will win the day over all others. Not money, influence nor intelligence has the power of tenacity.” 

“As a developer in early 2005 I was working on a development of a project in a county known for its coal production and steel mill. During the public hearing I was greeted with the board members each having a lump of coal in front of them at the hearing. I knew this was going to be a ‘rough one’. Fast forward 10 years later and that same county is shutting down their old coal resource and is a beacon of renewable energy. Tenacity…” 

What challenges have you faced and overcome throughout your career?   

“In the 80s there were few women in the science and engineering fields. Workplace and career challenges were a part of life, especially as much of my work was international. Cultural differences, language barriers and gender stereotypes were all challenges that had to be overcome. There were no women role models in the industry at a time, and there were no ‘best in class’ organizations that defined the renewable market during these early stages. The gender gap still exists, though profound traction is occurring, and more and more women are entering the engineering and science field today. Women still only make up 28% in Science and Technology and even less in the Construction Industry. I am delighted that Ulteig is at the forefront of inclusion and opportunities for all.” 

What is most important to you and the Renewables industry right now? How is this relevant to Ulteig clients looking towards the future?   

“The market is maturing in a time of unparalleled environmental and political fluctuations. We are seeing new incumbents and mergers of key stakeholders, new energy sources and next generation technology both in equipment, as well as software/AI enablers. Ulteig will continue to be agile and responsive to these changes in a holistic and timely manner to stay in a leading position for our clients.” 

Learn more about Renewables at Ulteig or contact us here. 
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