Todae Solar

Staff series: Seb, Engineering Lead at Todae Solar

What is your role at Todae Solar?

Engineering Lead

And how long you been at Todae Solar?

Just under three years.

What projects do you enjoy the most?

I really enjoy a project where I feel like my individual contribution will actually help us directly in the future. I also get excited about projects where I have a lot to learn, a lot of challenges to overcome and am able to pave a new way, or model, of doing things for the future.

Seb, climate strike

What does your typical day look like, or maybe a typical week?

At the moment it’s pretty different to what it was last year.

My typical week will involve about 80% of my time spent on a big project we’re working on at the moment. It will involve talking to a bunch of suppliers, customers and teams that we’re using to help us develop this project. Understanding products a bit better, understanding if there’s any optimization we can do and trying to cut the cost down of that product in some way by asking, ‘Can this be done in a different way?’ I’ll also be working on the layout of the system and, every week to-date, I’ve been adjusting it. Fine tuning a bit here, changing the spacing here, moving some equipment around. Trying to cut out any wastage, to really optimize the layout.

Other than that, there’s my role as a manager. I’ll catch up with one of my two team members every week and work with them, trying to understand what their workload is, if there’s anything I can help with. Then contributing to the general team whenever I have time, which might be attending a meeting to help us win a new sale, or, meeting with an external supplier on a relationship level rather than a project level.

What gets you out of bed in the morning, what gets you excited about work?

Probably the feeling that I’m in a job that’s helping to avert climate disaster. That’s the number one driver and very close second, or almost equal first, is that the way in which I’m helping aligns with my capabilities as an Engineer. Essentially, my job allows me to apply my core engineering skills to accelerate the clean energy revolution and help us avert anthropogenic global warming – that’s what gets me out of bed in the morning.

What keeps you up at night?

Often, I’m thinking of how I can improve aspects of whatever project I’m working on, or higher-level solutions for the whole team. It’s not that I’m being kept awake from stress, rather, my mind takes over and I think through ways in which I can do things differently to optimise the project, product or process. I’m not being kept up at night in a bad way.

What’s your favourite perk at Todae?

Probably the chance to see Australia – the travel. I’ve been to two thirds of the state capitals with work and I’ve also been able to go to regional areas as well, and I really like that. Especially getting a schnitty in a regional pub!

Why did you choose Todae Solar?

When I first started looking for a professional job in Australia, I looked at any company doing something technical in the solar industry, not just EPCs. It just so happened that Todae was the first one where the Head of Engineering at the time offered me an interview and then the job. They brought me in for a trial for one day, where they paid me for my time for a day and I actually worked on a tiny aspect of design. It is a way better way of hiring, seeing how the person works and fits into an office environment and getting a feel of the people there. I would say that that’s one of the things that I really like about Todae Solar, they aren’t afraid to do things differently.

What’s your connection to renewable energy? How did you get involved in renewables?

Finishing my undergraduate degree, which was in an unrelated engineering field, I knew I didn’t want to go into that field. I also knew I didn’t want to go into finance, which is a typical area engineering graduates to go into. I had to think about what I would be interested in, what would get me out of bed in the morning. I ended up settling on environment and then climate change seemed to be the biggest challenge for humanity, so I knew that would focus me. After realizing that, I went into a couple of jobs that were related but didn’t allow me to apply my engineering background. While their values were very much what I was aligned with, the actual day-to-day work wasn’t very interesting for me. So I ended up doing a Masters in renewable energy and realised solar was the most interesting to me. After that, I found an internship in the US and that’s when I learnt that I could contribute to the climate effort while also utilising my engineering background.

What are your main hobbies outside of work?

Probably surfing – that’s what I’d say is my hobby but I’m hopeless at it. Trying to learn to catch decent waves without feeling that I’m going to drown or get eaten!  That, and reading fantasy fiction like the Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson.

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