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Clean energy journalism for a cooler tomorrow

This VP helps turn clean energy into high heat to decarbonize industry

Antora Energy’s Nicole Geneau talks to Canary about tackling industrial emissions and the need to be direct. Plus job moves and a panel on growing power demand.
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Canary Media’s Charging Up column chronicles gender diversity and notable career moves in the climatetech sector. Got a person or event you’d like to see us cover or a hot job tip? Let us know!

Nicole Geneau: A clean energy Swiss Army knife

Nicole Geneau is vice president of commercial development at Antora Energy. This interview has been edited and condensed for brevity.

How did you end up on this career path?

I have had the environmental bug since high school. After college, I went into finance and accounting but wasn’t satisfied. So I slowly made my way back to environmental issues, working on the first World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg and with companies on their corporate social responsibility strategies, and then on the energy transition more directly.

I joined Antora in November last year after growing increasingly frustrated at the lack of economic and effective technology solutions for industrial Scope 1 emissions. Until Antora, there was no great solution for baseload steam generation in industrial manufacturing facilities other than burning natural gas. I had worked on fleet electrification in the transportation space, but after soul-searching, I found industrial emissions to be the next underserved sector, with few commercially available technologies. That’s when I discovered Antora.

I met our CEO, Andrew Ponec, and we immediately clicked. I joined as VP of commercial development, a jack-of-all-trades role. I believe being a Swiss Army knife is valuable, because you can apply it to various situations, challenges, and opportunities. I now work on anything the company needs to deploy our technology into facilities and make them commercial and operational.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Get to the point.” As a Canadian, I tend to feel the need to explain and provide a history lesson before asking for something. One of my bosses told me to stop and said, I don’t need the history lesson. I just need the point. What do you want?” This advice came about 15 years ago, and I think about it constantly. It frames how I communicate, and I have found it very effective.

What is a barrier you faced, and how did you overcome it? 

I think this issue is related to the broader challenge of women in STEM fields. Earlier in my career, when I joined the field doing actual development, there was skepticism about whether a woman could be the lead, going to community meetings, dealing with engineers and landowners.

This was only about 15 years ago. It was a huge barrier to overcome. The roles that were considered more appropriate for women were in legal or marketing, which are highly valuable, but the satisfaction I’ve gotten over my career being the person in the field, negotiating with landowners, and actually building things has been tremendous.

I believe we need to continue investing in STEM programs and mentoring young women so that they’re not dissuaded from joining this space, despite the fact that they will face some bias as they’re coming up. It’s still there, and we need to keep working on it.

What do you think are some interesting, overlooked career opportunities in climatetech? 

Engineering is a crucial field in climate tech, and we need more engineers than we can find. There are many openings for all disciplines of engineering, not just at Antora, but in the climatetech space in general in areas like carbon capture, direct air capture, and thermal batteries.

However, it’s not just about technology. There are many opportunities in the business space around product go-to-market strategies, sales, and more. Bright people can apply their skills to turn these technologies into successful businesses, and this includes all disciplines and levels.

What is your superpower? 

My ability to translate between the technology and engineering realm and the business realm. I speak both languages and can effectively communicate between the two. This skill has been instrumental in advancing technology and framing it in a way that businesspeople can understand.

Career Moves

Emilie Wangerman has been promoted to chief operating officer and head of USA at renewable energy project developer Lightsource bp.

Elizabeth Lachowitzer has been promoted to director of business development at builder, developer, and engineering services provider Mortenson.

Carina Brockl has been promoted to chief revenue officer at Aurora Solar, a software platform for solar sales and design.

Melissa Gander has been promoted to CEO of energy software business Kaluza.

Molly Cox has been promoted to team lead, solar independent engineering, at DNV, a risk management and assurance consultancy.

Beth Crouchet, previously with Resideo, is now director of energy markets and resource planning at Budderfly, an energy-efficiency-as-a-service company.

Maren Wenzel has been promoted to director of regulatory, policy, and planning at Silicon Valley Clean Energy, a community choice energy agency that sources clean, competitively priced electricity on behalf of residents and businesses in its territory.

Check it out

Join Canary Media and expert guests for a live webinar to discuss the challenge of rapidly rising electricity demand in the U.S. and how utilities should respond to it. Sign up now to learn about cleaner, cheaper alternatives to building new fossil-gas power plants that can help meet demand while supporting the ongoing energy transition. 

Eric Wesoff is editorial director at Canary Media.

Maria Virginia Olano is editorial producer at Canary Media.