Throughout March, we’re celebrating the women of EnBW North America and sharing their advice for building a successful career in clean energy and how to support each other along the way.
As EnBW North America’s Community Engagement Manger, Jamie Shellenberger-Bessmann is dedicated to building smart and authentic relationships with the communities and leaders who are instrumental to the success of clean energy deployment in the United States. Throughout her career, Jamie has served in senior communications roles in-house and at some of the world’s largest PR firms focusing on energy, finance and technology clients. Most recently, she led communications for the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University.
Jamie holds a master’s degree in international relations and economics from Johns Hopkins SAIS and a bachelor’s degree in international business from NYU’s Stern School of Business. She lives for long, multi-day backpacking trips and hikes, and is a cheerleader for all US National Parks (Katmai is the best!).
Why did you choose your profession?
Over the years I’ve inched closer to working in the energy industry because I realized… this is how the world goes around. I love the global connectedness of the energy world – supply and demand, global trade, and geopolitics. And now, the shift to new generation and incredible strides in technology. We face an interesting inflection point and it’s exciting to be a part of renewable development, the shaking up of the old guard and creating something that will create a healthier and sustainable environment for us all. Also have you seen the size of offshore wind (and floating) turbines these days?! Incredible.
Tell us about a woman you look up to and why.
All of my friends from college and grad school are doing amazing things with their lives and careers and they inspire me to set high goals for myself and be authentic to what inspires me. To some degree, we’ve all taken different paths (doctors, economic aid and development specialists building programs to bring opportunity to people, writers, careers in wine and food), but seeing their progression, their creativity, and their success, fuels my own ambition and also gives me new ideas and approaches to my career.
What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?
Do something that you’re passionate about or interests you. I get it, easier said than done. Money and pressures from family or your network of what is the “right job” or “right industry” are challenging to navigate and might lead you down a path that you never really wanted. Not to mention so many of us have no idea what we want to do in our early 20’s. But nothing will get you up in the morning, at your computer (or wherever you work – I wish I worked less with the computer!) and plugging away than something that matters to you. But be sure, this doesn’t necessarily mean the entirety of your job will be pure passion. I think what’s missed in this common refrain is that work… is work. It usually isn’t all pleasurable so it’s about finding a few nuggets of inspiration or a mission that aligns to your sense of duty that can mean the difference between a career that is miserable or one that feels rewarding.
What advice would you give to women in your field?
Support each other. When it makes sense, utilize your experiences and power to transform your collective careers and opportunities. And stay in touch! No group of people has been more supportive or important to making connections for me than the women in my life. Even women strangers have been most eager to help.