Jenny Bredt, Director, Operational Excellence, RES (Renewable Energy Systems, Ltd) believes in diversity of thought.
GEM alum demonstrates how ‘diversity of thought’ delivers solutionsComplex problems are rarely solved with simple solutions; they typically require a multi-prong approach to be successfully addressed. Energy companies are no strangers to difficult challenges; theirs are usually an intricate blend of technical, financial, regulatory, and environmental issues that often jeopardize profitability and long-term success. Therefore, it is no surprise that the concept of diversity of thought has gained so much momentum in the industry.
For those unfamiliar, diversity of thought is the idea that when you bring diverse teams together, great innovation and creative solutions will result. It embraces open-mindedness and accepts that there is more than one way to reach a goal. The full potential of the company is realized through the recognition and strategic use of employees’ different perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences.
Global Energy Management alum, Jenny Bredt (GEM ’11), has been a long-time believer in the power of diversity of thought. As the Director of Operational Excellence at Renewable Energy Systems, the world’s largest independent energy company, it is her job to find creative solutions, operational efficiencies, and continuous improvements in RES’ construction business.
Jenny is a walking example of how influential diversity of thought is when put into practice. She knows the business and the end goal. How she finds the solutions, however, is by listening to the people behind the process. And it is the people at RES that have kept her there for over 11 years.
“I love working in energy because of the variety that each day brings and the incredibly talented people who make it all work. Doing my job well starts with listening to my coworkers and appreciating their point of view. From there, I can determine the root cause of an issue and work with them to create a solution. Respecting their perspectives and keeping an open mind has allowed me to not only forge strong bonds with my colleagues but also learn something new every day. It is why I do what I do,” states Jenny.
Building diversity within
It is no surprise that early in her career, Jenny turned the lens inward to assess the diversity of her own professional skill-set and whether it was enough to keep her advancing. She began to evaluate her areas of expertise as well as the areas she needed to improve.
Jenny soon recognized that during meetings, she would participate in the discussion on most topics except when it came to the financials. She relates, “I remember attending meetings feeling left out because I couldn’t fully contribute to the financial side of the conversation. So, I started researching general MBA’s but quickly realized they just weren’t for me. I wanted to gain business acumen through an energy lens and that’s when I discovered the GEM Program.”
Jenny found what she was looking for and much more with GEM. She states, “The program helped me become a better employee, team member, and leader. The coursework not only challenged my critical thinking abilities but also honed my ability to define, complete, and execute deliverables. GEM also taught me how to effectively communicate with all levels of the company – including executives.” Jenny has received multiple promotions since graduation and attributes much of that success to the education she received through GEM.
As a member of the program’s third cohort, she also appreciates that GEM has been practicing diversity of thought long before it gained its recent prominence. From the beginning, GEM’s curriculum was intentionally designed to ensure that students are organized into diverse teams to complete real-world, group assignments.
Jenny recounts, “Each quarter meant working with a new mix of peers who are not only geographically diverse but also come from different professional disciplines and energy sectors, creating a truly unique environment to learn the business of energy. Few other career opportunities provide such comprehensive exposure to the whole industry.”
Fueling her passion for education
Despite her demanding work schedule, Jenny’s commitment to the GEM Program has extended well beyond her time as a student. She is now co-teaching GEM’s elective course, Commercialization, Management, and Leadership in Renewable Energy. She offers, “One of the biggest benefits of the program is that the professors bring their energy experience into the classroom, blending academic theory with a real-world approach. Teaching for GEM fuels my inner passion for education and keeps me at the top of my game.”
She is also proud to be a member of the program’s industry-led advisory council. As an AC member, she helps to ensure that GEM maintains its balanced view of the industry and continues to provide diversity of thought in its curriculum delivery. Jenny relates, “GEM’s competitive advantage is its all-energy curriculum. It is educating tomorrow’s leaders on how to answer the world’s insatiable demand for energy through the development of a variety of resources. Once again, demonstrating how diversity fosters the creation of solutions.”