On Earth Day 2021, Meet The B-School Sustainability Graduates

Name: Angeline Gross

Hometown: Royal Palm Beach, FL

Fun Fact About Yourself: I’ve climbed wind turbines as part of my job!

Business School Degree Program: University of Florida’s Hough Graduate School of Business Online MBA Program

1. What do you do, and how do you impact sustainability through your work?

I have the privilege of working for NextEra Energy Resources, the world’s largest operator of wind and solar projects and a leader in renewable energy.  As a reliability engineer, I ensure our wind turbines run smoothly and efficiently, bringing us one step closer to a more sustainable future.

2. What does World Earth Day mean to you?

Imagine sitting in a space shuttle, observing Earth from a window.  All of the people, plants, animals, fungi, and protozoa you ever knew, didn’t know, and may get to know – are all there, completely filling your view in the form of a singular pale blue dot floating in an endless sea of black space.  To me, World Earth Day is about taking the time to recognize the rarity of Earth’s near-perfect habitability and understand our responsibility as humans to maintaining this unique ecosystem by fighting climate change.

3. What is your top tip for living a more sustainable life? 

This answer might surprise a lot of people, but one of the best things you can do to help the planet is donate to trustworthy climate charities such as the Clean Air Task Force and Carbon180.  Founders Pledge is a charitable initiative that empowers entrepreneurs to donate some of their personal proceeds to charity upon selling their businesses, and their last Climate & Lifestyle report cites research suggesting “that our recommended climate charities have in the past averted a tonne of CO2 for less than $10.”  By the numbers: if you donate $1000, you save 100 tons of CO2 which is 25 times more effective than having one fewer child, 42 times more effective than living car-free, and 62 times more effective than avoiding one transatlantic flight!

4. How has your business school experience helped your career in in this area?

With wholesale power prices going down every year, we’re always coming up with new potential projects to improve reliability and reduce overhead.  By applying the project evaluation techniques I learned in business school, I’ve methodically assessed projects for financial viability, growth, and risk so I can be more confident that I’m working on a project with a decent chance of success.

5. What is the biggest/most important lesson you have learned during your studies?

The most important lesson I learned in B-school didn’t come from a textbook or PowerPoint, but rather from the experience itself: how to work together within a diverse team to effectively solve problems.  The skills involved – such as listening, negotiating, and building trust, just to name a few – are what sets apart a great team from a good team, and by extension, a great company from a good company.

6. Where do you see yourself in five years? 

The future of solar energy looks extremely bright (pun intended)!  So in five years, I hope to bring some of my reliability expertise to our solar photovoltaic and battery storage teams while growing my own knowledge in the process.

7. Finally, what are your hopes for the future of the planet?

While the COVID-19 pandemic has brought collective trauma to our lives, it’s also showcased the drastic measures that humanity will take to save itself.  Just a year ago, seemingly overnight, we started staying 6 feet apart.  We wore masks, avoided crowds, and Zoom’ed with our colleagues and friends.  And while the measures weren’t an outright success (there have been over 3 million deaths globally), at least one model predicted COVID-19 could have caused 40 million deaths without preventative measures.  If we can prioritize climate change as swiftly and seriously as this pandemic, then I remain hopeful for our planet’s – and humanity’s – future.

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