Day in the life: Kahya Engler – Head of Residential Operations
Solarcentury’s Residential Business Operations Director, Kahya Engler, is one of a growing number of senior women blazing a path in the solar sector. We delve into a day in her life to learn more about her role and what she loves about it.
Describe your job in a couple of sentences.
I’m the Operations Director for Solarcentury’s residential business that provides solar to homeowners.
Our residential department operates in four countries: the UK, Germany, Netherlands and Belgium. My responsibilities are broad and encompass sales to consumers, operational excellence and best practice, health and safety, quality control, resource planning, and lots more.
Tell me an interesting fact about residential operations.
Last year the resi team produced 13,499 quotes to customers!
What does an average week look like to you?
On most weeks I split my time across several offices – London, Helmond and Cologne – so I am on the road a lot.
I try my best to touch base with the country and sales managers on a daily basis and when working in the London HQ, I’ll catch up with staff in the central teams: IT, HR, procurement, etc. It is all about the smooth interaction between departments and applying learnings from one country to another.
Every day involves diving into the very detail of an issue in one or possibly several countries to having a helicopter view on required changes in processes or best practice.
What’s it like working for Solarcentury?
This is my second time around – I worked here from 2005-2010 as a Project Manager. I love the vision we share – making a difference with our daily work in the fight against climate change. It gives a purpose on days when things are not so rosy and rather challenging.
What’s the best thing about your job?
I love working in international settings. On a daily basis I get to work in four languages across four countries and I also enjoy the cultural mix within each country.
What gets you fired up?
I love it when people come together, like in our weekly operations meeting and we come up with a great new improvement, invite other central team members and there is a synergy of thought (although that of course is not always the reality – that would be fantasy world!)
Do you have a good work-life balance?
Hmm, not quite there yet, there are lots of challenges and improvements to implement. We have been growing a lot recently and aligning processes takes time. The work-life balance is a work in progress.
What’s different, special or exciting about working for Solarcentury?
There is always a lot of enthusiasm, passion and drive!
What advice would you give to someone just starting out in their (residential) solar career?
Ask a dinosaur (like me with 14 years in solar) to have coffee sometime and keep asking questions.
What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve been given?
At my last job, the Business Director shared the following approach with me: Everyone should make their own career progression an important goal at work. Companies should support learning, striving to improve knowledge as it spirals personal performance and therefore drives the employee and the company forward.
In my role as Ops Director I not only enjoy the daily learning I experience but hope to encourage people in my team to do the same. Together we make the residential business thrive.
What changes have you seen in the solar sector over the years?
Residential solar has really changed. The whole PV sector and systems that were once pretty much unaffordable are now more reachable for a broader spectrum of people.
When I started in solar I didn’t know any female directors in the solar market. When rejoining Solarcentury last year, it was still very unusual to have a female Managing Director (Susannah Wood) and I hope with my visibility as a woman in management, other young women will see themselves in a similar role in their future career path.