Meet Savannah Whitfield. She is the COO and Co-Founder of Okovate Sustainable Energy. They’re on a mission to make community solar deployment more sustainable through agrivoltaics and dual-use habitat development. Okovate recognizes the challenges faced by farmers in today’s economic landscape. Savannah sees agrivoltaics as a powerful solution that not only increases solar deployment but also supports farmers’ financial viability, by empowering farmers to stay on their land and continue producing food while simultaneously generating clean energy.

As a part of HeatSpring’s free Solar Career Pathways course, professionals from across the solar industry provide students with an inside look at their careers through short interviews. Professionals share the details on what their jobs entail, their day-to-day activities, how they got there, and advice for those looking to follow a similar path.

Here’s just a snippet from our conversation with Savannah about her role as a new entrepreneur along with some great advice for others looking to make big moves in their own careers. 

To hear the full conversation with Savannah, enroll in the Solar Career Pathways course for free.

See below for a transcript of our conversation. 

Savannah: Okavate Sustainable Energy is a community solar developer  that specializes in dual use projects, so we do agrivoltaics projects that pair solar with active farmland in order to create a little microclimate that’s mutually beneficial for both energy generation and crop production. 

My role – I am COO and Co-founder – right now, when we’re in our startup phase, that looks like a lot of wearing different hats.

I’m really focused on  recruiting right now and growing our team, really intentionally building out our handbook, our company culture, just being really intentional with the way that we grow our team.

Another part of what I’m doing is focusing on farmer relationships,  so we can build out our pipeline of agrivoltaics projects and community solar markets.

Brit: For anybody who is listening to this interview and is super stoked about your work, your entrepreneurship journey, anything that you’ve said so far, what advice do you have for those folks just launching their career? 

Savannah: I would say don’t  be afraid to fail.  And on that same note, growth and progress is not linear. Like, the way that I have weeks where I’m like, what am I doing? This, like, I just am feeling really discouraged and, you know, things aren’t working out. Going my way and I’m feeling overwhelmed, but then, you know, it just takes a slight shift of perspective or like an inspiring conversation to, to get you back in the direction you’re headed.

So don’t get discouraged by the small things. Nothing, nothing really is linear, even though we want it to be. And so a step backwards doesn’t mean you’re, you’re going in the wrong direction. It’s just part of the journey.