Women in Focus Week, Day 5! Meet the Top Women Sustainable CEOs: Jan Blittersdorf

Published on September 7th, 2012 | by

Jan Blittersdorf, NRG Systems CEO

This week, the Important Media Network has committed to highlighting some of the women that are making the world a better place. At Inspired Economist, we thought we’d take part by profiling a great sustainable woman CEO every day this week. See previous posts on Gail Kelly of WestPac BankIrene Rosenfeld, CEO of Kraft FoodsKim Jordan, CEO of New Belgium Brewing, and Eileen Fisher (of high end apparel company with her name).  

NRG Systems, Inc. is a manufacturer of wind measurement equipment for the wind energy industry. NRG Systems currently has two LEED gold-certified manufacturing facilities in Vermont, which help it generate most of its electricity from on-site renewables.

Jan Blittersdorf, CEO/President of NRG Systems, has overseen 50% year after year growth since 2004, when she became the head of the company.

Blittersdorf helped drive the creation of NRG’s progressive benefits package, which includes cash incentives to do green in their personal lives. The incentives are for a range of activities, from buying hybrid vehicles, to installing renewable energy systems, and making energy efficiency improvements. NRG has consistently ranked well in Vermont’s “Best Places to Work” ratings partially as a result of these types of programs.

According to a profile by Vermont Woman, Blittersdorf is:

active on boards or committees with the American Wind Energy Association, Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility, the UVM School of Business, Vermont Technical College, Vermont Business Roundtable, the Vermont Humanities Council, the Business Advisory Council for Vermont’s Speaker of the House, Vistage (a national CEO networking organization), the Fairbanks Museum, and Women of Wind Energy.

On being a female leader in this field, Blittersdorf says, “I’ve had nothing but positive experiences. There are no outright [gender] issues. I didn’t get instant credibility though; with David as founder, and me as his wife, it was more difficult to become a leader in my own right. I’ve had to step up my decisiveness, think things through before I get in a group situation – and learn not to defer to others and stand up for myself. And, whereas David was the vision person before, that is now my role. He’s had to hand over the reigns to me and let go. I now see what he did as an incredible gift, and I have much gratitude.”

Blittersdorf was one of the first to call for an extension of wind power tax credits at the Federal Level. These tax credits have helped establish an industry with staying power that is creating jobs. For instance, 7,000 residents of Iowa have wind power to thank for their current position. Wind power has become an issue in the election of 2012, with Republican nominee Mitt Romney showcasing a disturbing lack of understanding of capitalism and coming out strongly against wind power, and President Obama pledging to continue support for the industry and the jobs it creates.

For a truly insightful report on wind power, including economics, technology, and industry analysis, check out CleanTechnica‘s Wind Power Profile.

To check out the rest of Important Media’s Focus on Women this week, check out an archive of this week’s women’s issues posts here!

 

 


About the Author

Scott Cooney (twitter: scottcooney) is an adjunct professor of Sustainability in the MBA program at the University of Hawai'i, green business startup coach, author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill), and developer of the sustainability board game GBO Hawai'i. Scott has started, grown and sold two mission-driven businesses, failed miserably at a third, and is currently in his fourth. Scott's current company has three divisions: a sustainability blog network that includes the world's biggest clean energy website and reached over 5 million readers in December 2013 alone; Pono Home, a turnkey and franchiseable green home consulting service that won entrance into the clean tech incubator known as Energy Excelerator; and Cost of Solar, a solar lead generation service to connect interested homeowners and solar contractors. In his spare time, Scott surfs, plays ultimate frisbee and enjoys a good, long bike ride.