At Sun Tribe, we’ve worked through this COVID-19 crisis to shine a spotlight on the good work being done to support the communities we call home. But in the middle of this public health pandemic, we’ve also seen that the COVID-19 has led to real financial and budgetary challenges for those same communities. That’s why we’ve continued to serve as a full partner to schools, local governments, and businesses looking to save money through solar.
So much has changed over the past few months. Yet our company – from top to bottom – believes that safety always comes first, which has meant parts of how and where we work have evolved. Some of us are working from home, while others continue to work on-site with new health and safety procedures in place. We’ve reached out to co-workers and neighbors, finding news ways to connect and provide support. And we’ve remained focused on our larger mission: changing the ways communities think about energy and unlocking the potential of a sustainable tomorrow, today.
To that end, we thought we’d share a little bit how the Sun Tribe team is living and working right now.
Sanjana is more than a talented Project Engineer – she’s a traveler who has lived in Ontario, San Francisco, and India, not to mention a former competitive swimmer who holds degrees in both chemistry and engineering. Sanjana moved from Illinois to Charlottesville to work at Sun Tribe, and part of what drew her to the company was the close-knit nature of Sun Tribe’s in-house engineering team.
“Great engineering is about so much more than technical skills – it’s about asking questions and learning from colleagues who might have a new and interesting way of solving a challenge,” said Kartik. “When working from home, there’s a real temptation to just put your head down and churn out work, but we’ve really focused on staying connected and continuing to be a sum that’s better even than our already-strong parts.”
Sanjana’s work station is between her kitchen and living room – the best place for abundant natural light in her downtown apartment that also allows for plenty of snacking, since office snacks are no longer close at hand.
As Sun Tribe’s Director of Safety and Quality, it’s Will’s job to plan (meticulously) for the best, while preparing for the worst – it’s part of what has made him a nationally sought-after trainer and speaker on workplace safety. So when COVID-19 hit, Will and his team had a strong, adaptable structure in place to protect the Sun Tribe team, even as national and local guidance was rapidly evolving.
“There’s an old saying: a crisis is a bad time to be exchanging business cards. Meaning: if you have to network and find expertise in the middle of turmoil, you’re going to have a tough time getting results,” said Reichert. “That’s why I’m proud of the fact that at Sun Tribe, we’ve been building out a safety program for years, and were in a position to guide our Executive team on the best steps for our entire team.”
In addition to setting up a rigorous safety protocol for on-site work and securing essential personal protective equipment (such as masks), Will has also been focusing on an important component for everyone at Sun Tribe: mental and emotional health. At a moment when every member of our community is feeling increased stress, Will and his team are finding new and creative ways to be supportive, ensure teammates have the resources they need, and continue to feel joy in their work. Here you can see Will saying a (socially distant) hello to Sanjana!
For Miguel Arroyo, a new workspace is just one of the parts of life that’s changed for this first-time father, die-hard basketball fan, and Assistant Project Manager on Sun Tribe’s Delivery Team. With projects at schools and local governments moving forward, Miguel has had to find creative ways of solving the logistics challenges that come with any fast-moving solar project.
“So much of our work is built on strong relationships with suppliers and partners, and with circumstances changing so rapidly, we’re really relying on those relationships to ensure we can get projects through to the finish line,” said Arroyo. “The good news is that thanks to our comprehensive expertise here – from Engineers to Construction Specialists to Electricians – we’re prepared to overcome any obstacle.”
Miguel has always been focused on putting his family first, but the birth of his first child put things in an entirely different perspective, as he and his wife juggle work, a global health crisis, and caring for a newborn. But he’s grateful to be able to work from home – it’s more time with his son, even if he tries to work quietly to avoid waking him.
Construction Manager Zack Davis has always been a hands-on guy – a problem solver and sportsman who enjoys spending time outside and has loved building things since his first carpentry projects as a kid, which he did with his dad. But while work has continued during COVID-19, it raises a number of new obstacles for Zack and Sun Tribe’s on-site teams.
“We’ve always been really safety-focused, but we’ve reached an even higher level of site awareness under COVID-19,” said Davis. “There are things we used to take for granted – like the work that happens on-site in electrical rooms – where today we have make extensive plans to ensure workers aren’t put in a situation where they could be in danger. A good job site is one where there are no surprises.”
As a Construction Manager, Zack’s day is still largely spent on the ground, working closely with every team who might need access to a job site. It’s part of the commitment that Sun Tribe has made to its partners: that we’ll help you meet your energy needs by getting projects done on-time.
For Sun Tribe Operations Director Ryan Tully – a U.S. Marine Corps Officer and former Naval Academy Football Team Director of Player Development – leadership during a fast-moving crisis has always been a part of the job. And team cohesion has always been central to success.
“It doesn’t matter how big or small a team is – the question is whether everyone is focused on the same goals and willing to support one another to get there,” said Tully. “In business school, you focus on case studies and try to learn from how companies have innovated or fallen short of ambitious goals. That’s the approach we bring at Sun Tribe: assuming that years from now, someone will be studying how we approached our work. And we plan to be proud of what they see.”
Today, this former Harvard Varsity Football Captain is working from home while supporting the entire Sun Tribe team and trying to balance a growing family. He and the Sun Tribe operations team help keep the trains running on time while also planning online socializing for the entire Tribe and running a Learning Lab series where Sun Tribers share their expertise with co-workers.