Green Recruiter Spotlight: Q & A with Redfish Technology

Editors note: As a special feature, Green Collar Blog is pleased to present the following spotlight on Redfish Technology, which provides recruitment services in the green jobs sector via its Greenfish Division.  A series of questions and answers follows below.


Q&A with Redfish Technology's Greenfish Division

Answers provided by Redfish Technology team members:

  • Austin Bristow - Green Tech Manager
  • Greg Schreiner – Executive Recruiter, Green Tech

Q. Who is Redfish Technology?

Redfish has been in the recruiting business since 1996. We cut our teeth in High Tech in the Silicon Valley and we remain very involved in High Tech (Software, Telecoms, and other technologies) across the county.

Redfish has always had a strong sense of social responsibility and a community-minded culture, and we have great dedication to and passion about leaving this planet a better place for future generations. So about 5 years ago, we created a division dedicated to green jobs (our Greenfish Division). We specialize in renewables such as solar, wind, geothermal, and biofuels, as well as Clean Tech sectors such as Electric & Hybrid Vehicles, Smart Grid, and other green technologies.

We work with a lot of small start-ups but we also work with Fortune 250 companies, and the roles we typically focus on are sales & marketing, engineering, software development, management through C-Level.

Q: How does your firm define a ‘Green' business?

Well, there’s no easy answer here. From Clean Tech to Green Tech to alternative energy to renewable energy, there are a vast number of terms being used, each with its own set of qualifying criteria. As a whole I would consider a “Green business” as any which puts concerted effort into becoming more environmentally friendly and energy efficient. From using less paper, initiating recycling programs, changing to more efficient lighting, to installing solar/thermal energy systems, all are ways to make your own business more “green”.

To address the more specific terms, I hear Clean Tech as referring to technology that is either neutral emissions or that which is significantly lower in emissions/pollution than the popular alternative. Take LED lighting for instance, they still consume power that must be produced somehow, but they consume significantly less power than normal incandescent bulbs therefore falling into the Clean Tech category. We also hear debates between traditional power and alternative or renewable energy, traditional power typically referring to power generated by coal or nuclear. Alternative Energy and Renewable energy are not mutually exclusive, oftentimes including similar technology from biofuels to solar, wind and geothermal energy.

Q. What are examples of some jobs that your firm is currently recruiting for?

We work on a broad range of roles. Some of our current priorities include a Director of Engineering, Process Engineers, PV Systems Designers, General Council, Purchasing Managers, Vice President of Sales, Global Key Account Managers and other Account Executive roles. We’ve been quite busy with wind, geothermal, energy power electronics, energy storage and efficiency companies, and electric vehicles. But the industry where we’ve seen the strongest growth in hiring this year has been solar.

In 2010 we’ve filled some very exciting roles including National Sales Account Manager in Wind, Chief Operating Officer in Utility Scale Renewable Energy, North American Sales Director in Clean Tech & advanced materials, and numerous engineering roles and sales roles in Solar.

Q. What trends are you seeing in green industries?

Thankfully venture capital investment is re-strengthening after the crash of 2008 dried these funding sources up. Some companies are doing really well on the funding side, and others are struggling to keep the lights on. What makes this an exciting time is that there are few clear front runners. We are in a weeding out period which presents a very competitive atmosphere. Companies are striving for efficiencies, product excellence, and the right price point, and there are great new products on the market.

We see a consolidation trend. Just like in High Tech, there are a lot of acquisitions, smaller entrepreneurs with very specifically focused products. Many may go for funding, and many aim to be a strategic purchase for larger companies wanting to round out and grow their portfolio. The companies that are rising to the top are the ones that are vertically integrating; growing strategically to control more of their own processes, from supply chain to end product, to source raw materials, and install and dialogue with the end user customers directly. A lot of smaller firms are being acquired by larger product manufacturers – especially on the building integration side.

This trend towards efficiency models seems to really be working. Take the example of a panel manufacturer. To get those panels onto a rooftop, the producer needs to sell to a distributor who sells to an integration company. Today, a lot of savvy solar panel manufacturers are buying integration companies, dong the design and installation, and cutting costs and the middleman while assuring a market for their products. We’ve seen this in Wind acquisitions and supply chain consolidation.

Q. What trends is your firm seeing in terms of the green job market?

A lot of U.S. companies got into the green game a bit later, and we are making a big push to catch up. Many big wind and solar companies are Spanish, German, or other international early adopters. Most thriving companies have an international component; many of the North American green energy firms, such as Suniva and Northern Power, are conducting their R & D here; other companies are doing sales here but do manufacturing and everything else abroad. From the U.S. job market perspective, the more business processes domiciled in the U.S., the more jobs we’ll see here locally. There are somewhat contradictory forces at work, often manufacturing abroad provides competitive pricing and costs structures, on the other hand, the more that technology can be incubated in the U.S., the more innovation and growth we can hope to see here.

Q. Do you have any tips for green job seekers?

Of course we do! Every person’s profile, strengths and experiences are different, so there isn’t a one-size-fits-all career success tip. But we are available to discuss career strategies with our candidates, and we offer a number of resources for both passive and active candidates on our website in the jobseeker resources section as well as on our blogs.

One of the common questions we run into candidates we speak with regards how to transition into the green sector. There are a number of approaches that can increase your ability to break into a green job starting with networking and identifying specific experience and skills that one can grow on their own. Our own Greg Schreiner recently wrote an article entitle “Breaking Into Green” that references many tactics and resources for entering the industry.

Of course certain skills and experience are more transferable than others. A lot of the engineering skills necessary for success in the solar field are similar to the skillset developed in semiconductor industries. Many of the needs in the smart grid space are similar to the RF/wireless/networking technology fields. Wind turbine manufacturers often seek out mechanical engineers with experience in rotating and vibrating machinery design from the aerospace industry.

People with transferable skill sets will clearly find the least resistance to entry. It is important to clearly evaluate your experience and know-how and match that to sectors with similar skills. It is fairly easy for engineers to identify transition-friendly moves. Despite the old saying that a good sales person can sell anything, the transition for outside the industry for sales professionals can be more difficult. A sales generalist will have more significant barriers to entry, whereas someone in natural gas sales may find it more obvious to transition into biofuels sales.

Q: Are large, traditionally non-green businesses looking to bring green expertise on-board? For what reasons?

Yes, we see a lot of companies embracing green, especially in the High Tech fields. It appears to be a both a cost and public image issue as well as a concrete cost savings strategy. From retro-fitting old buildings, LEED certification and cost cutting designs that use less power, to energy savings programs ranging from turning lights off to high efficiency technologies to 4-day work weeks, to incentives or subsidies for public transport, small and large companies are jumping on board.

Q. Do you have any tips for green companies in their talent search?

Call us! We are passionate, professional and expedient and we can find you the right talent according to your schedule. We work differently than many recruiting firms, providing our clients with the results they require.

As Green Tech is very much in its infancy stage, the number of qualified candidates is limited. There are many companies searching for the same candidates and it is a very competitive space. We are very connected in many areas of Green Tech and can leverage our network to find the very best talent. Since the best candidates are often being courted by several companies, we work with companies to keep the interview momentum moving forward, not being hasty but moving through the hiring process efficiently.

Q: How does Redfish approach the recruiting process? How are you different?

Recruiting is about communication. It is about understanding the needs, the skills, the environment, the objectives, and working to identify a winning match for both the company and the candidate.

We work closely with candidates to explore their expectations, work history, skills, and goals, and we give them an honest assessment of their potential fit for the positions we are recruiting for. If we feel that we can find them an opportunity that corresponds to their objectives, we will move full steam ahead.

We work closely with our clients, from the beginning we work with the hiring manager to establish a precise understanding what the firm needs. From reviewing the job description and department objectives to honing in on the intangibles such as company personalities, dynamics, and culture. From this point, we handle all aspects of the recruitment cycle.

We work in a team environment, coordinating with recruiting and sourcing staff in our three offices for nationwide coverage, and focusing our internal resources on a particular search, but providing our clients with one responsible point of contact.

We will identify proper candidates through our well-established networks, extensive database of professionals, various energy groups and associations that we are part of, and draw from social and professional media connections. We utilize these connections to identify and directly recruit the talent that best corresponds to your requirements.

Next we speak with all potential candidates about their background and the role. Where there is a promising match, we generate interest in the opportunity, and cover qualifying questions about a prospective candidate’s skills, experience, objectives, and motivations, and ascertain if there is fit for a particular job and the specific company.

Once the screening process is completed, we then present anywhere from 5-10 candidates in the initial round for review. Based on feedback, we can recalibrate if necessary, and move forward handling all the logistics of scheduling and confirming interviews from an initial phone interview to on-site meetings. Our service also includes reference checks, offer presentation, and communications with all involved parties.

We work on contingent searches, retained searches, and offer RPO (recruitment process outsourcing) to firms who wish to streamline their processes and have us take an integral role in hiring process.

Q. Why did you enter this particular field?

Austin:

I have a personal interest in clean technology so while I continue to enjoy High Tech recruiting and I stay connected with key clients, I am passionate about the work I get to do in the green sector. One of biggest issues of our time is how will we satisfy all the demands for energy in an efficient and clean way. What I love about Clean Tech recruiting is that no matter the company, they are all working towards that goal. Our original move into green as a company was instigated by Chris Johnson, a geologist who identified the opportunity to bring our recruiting skills to this growing industry. We identified a business opportunity and it resonated with our personal passions and corporate culture, and the Greenfish division was born.

Read Austin’s bio.

Greg:

As a father and an avid outdoorsman, it’s critical to do what I can to help foster the “Green Movement” in order to leave behind a world that is efficient, self-sustaining, and environmentally-sound for my children. This personal conviction, in conjunction with my passion to help companies fulfill their growth needs led to my decision to move into Green Recruiting. I truly enjoy the complexities involved in renewable and alternative energy and thrive in this evolving market.

Read Greg’s bio.

Q. How can people learn more about your firm?

Call us or visit us on the internet.

Telephone: (408) 719-0200

www.redfishtech.com