One Woman’s Journey to Bright, Gritty, and Good
Voltus's Director of Marketing Kelly Yazdani reflects on her professional journey and how she landed at Voltus.
This post is in honor of International Women’s Day, as the women of the world find their passions, strike the balance, and write their own stories. This is my story.
Last month I joined Voltus as the Director of Marketing. Just like the virtual power plants Voltus manages, the Voltus team is entirely virtual, meaning we #workfromanywhere. The result is a surprisingly close-knit group of Voltans and a company culture ruled by trust and flexibility. As a result, I’m living my dream, working hard at a job I love in a fast-paced environment with the smartest people I’ve ever met, while balancing equally demanding personal roles of wife and mother. Last week, I popped over to my daughter’s school and read a book to her class before jumping back on a work call to plan a conference in NYC. I work until dinnertime and then walk upstairs to eat with my family. I can easily sign online seconds after putting my kids to bed to finish a task.
Although this position is my current state, my professional journey has been atypical to say the least. After graduating top of my class with a degree in Chemistry from Dartmouth at 21, I rolled out of college with a six figure, 80+ hour per week job in the male dominated energy trading industry. I had the proverbial world at my feet, one of three women in an otherwise all male company. I worked hard. I did not play hard. I worked harder. Then the unthinkable happened. At 24, I got pregnant with my first child.
The backlash was intense to say the least. Like out of a Mad Men clip, I had a male colleague say to 6-month pregnant me:
Shouldn’t you be home, barefoot and pregnant, where you belong?
I’d like to say that the comments stopped with one chauvinistic co-worker, but the comments were not limited to the often cold corporate world, nor were they limited to men. Well meaning female family members and friends lamented my lost potential and how my life would never be the same.
Successful women I knew looked at me with pity, like I had violated an oath I made to my generation, to educated women everywhere. It quickly became clear that balance would not be achieved at my 80 hour per week job. I opted to take some time off and reevaluate. A month later my son was born and the next unthinkable thing happened: I didn’t want to go back to work.
The sweetness of motherhood didn’t stop the aching insecurity that I was doing things backwards, misallocating the prime of my life. Despite these feelings, I dove into momming full force. Four and a half years and three kids later, my home and heart were full, but my brain was ready for a change.
There is no way you are going to find a good job after taking time off.
Wary of needing to explain the gap in my resume, I started a business with a friend and jumped into the world of entrepreneurship, e-commerce, and marketing and eventually landed at a more established start-up doing similar work. Something was still missing though. I was the only person at my company with kids and, to be frank, I yearned to work with other parents. Sometimes school gets canceled. Sometimes children get sick. I always felt awkward needing to explain those things to a group of thirty somethings that, despite good intentions, couldn’t always relate.
In October 2019, a solution fell out of the sky in the form of a LinkedIn message from Dana Guernsey, VP of Product and Energy Markets at Voltus. Dana and I had been introduced by a mutual friend several years back. We shared an interest in energy and a college alma mater. Dana’s message was clear: Voltus was hiring. As I learned more about the company, such as their commitment to bringing more women into Cleantech (women currently constitute 40% of Voltus’s workforce and rising), applying and ultimately accepting the position was a no brainer. Voltus is an incredible group of bright, gritty, and good women and men and includes the strongest group of kick butt working moms and single parents that I’ve ever met. The values that brought Voltus to life have created a system where people, regardless of personal circumstance, can thrive. My only hope is that other organizations can emulate Voltus’s model, allowing people to make a positive impact on our planet while continuing to prioritize the things they hold dear. I’m proud to be part of the #womenofvoltus. Who else wants to join us?