Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Claire Sharp, managing director of Americas at Kasierwetter Energy Asset Management, mostly worked in a shared office space in D.C. Now, like many other professionals, she works entirely from home — with a husband, children and dog always nearby.
Based in Germany, the international energy tech company is a service provider focused on helping its customers manage renewable energy assets through the digital integration of processes and data. Most of Sharp’s work is conducted via Zoom these days, though she uses a PC for all work-related tasks while simultaneously conducting some work on her Mac. Sharp said she’s pretty happy with her work-from-home situation, outside of one daily struggle with a housemate.
“Funnily enough, there is a desk my husband and I fight over because it is in a quiet part of the house with a great setup,” Sharp said. “It is next to a window with nice, natural lighting. Also — lighting tip! I’ve also recently discovered that putting a lamp next to the laptop screen helps soften your overall lighting. It’s certainly been interesting learning new video conferencing tips and tricks!”
When Sharp isn’t working, she said, she devotes all of her spare time to her family.
“I spend an hour a day making sure that my children are getting on with their virtual learning classrooms and have all the tools they need to succeed,” Sharp told Technical.ly. “They’ve been amazing at adapting to the new routine. The word ‘responsibility’ has taken on a whole new meaning for me; all parents truly do have to wear eight hats these days.”
Technical.ly asked Sharp more about her work-from-home life, and how it is consistently changing.
You’re Kaiserwetter’s managing director of Americas. What does your job entail and what are you working to help clients achieve?
My primary job is to bring Kaiserwetter’s products to the forefront of North American markets. We’re an energy IntelliTech company, and our digital platforms use smart data analytics, predictive analytics and machine learning to help increase renewable energy investment.
On a daily basis, I am speaking with banks, investors, utilities and other potential customers who have a vested interest in maximizing the energy output of their wind farms and solar farms, for example. In order to do this, I have to maintain a keen understanding of ongoing projects in the renewables space. Then, I can evaluate if Kaiserwetter can help optimize those assets.
What’s the first thing you do every day before doing any company-related work?
My day always begins with a cup of Earl Grey tea — sometimes my husband brings this to me in bed (lucky me)! Once I have my tea in hand, and check urgent emails, I try and squeeze in an early 30-minute run. Then we make sure our children are awake and help them get situated. These days, that means getting them set up for virtual learning. Generally, I do not eat breakfast so once everyone is set up, my workday begins around 8:30 a.m.
For ongoing projects, how do you keep track of your progress?
I use two systems — first, an Excel sheet, and second, a collaborative internal sales platform that helps track everyone’s progress. For example, I attach notes to the calendar on our internal system so the whole team knows who I’ve chatted with, which helps us streamline our team’s efforts. I keep track of my business development leads on an excel sheet that’s organized by client, time frame, subject, etc.
When you need to take a break, what are you turning to?
I tend to take a break around lunchtime every day. I try to get the kids and our dog Dash out for a walk. Regardless of if it is 20 minutes or 30, it’s fun and refocuses my mind. Luckily, it is springtime in D.C., and my neighborhood has so much greenery and great access to Rock Creek Park. I also make a conscious effort to sit down and have a quick lunch with my family since we are all here together for a change. To relax in the evening, after the kids are in bed, I catch up on some TV. I just finished “The English Game” (which I highly recommend), and I love British comedy. I try to throw in a rom-com here and there.
What’s one time-saving tip you have?
As a mom of two, working from home under these less-than-normal circumstances can be challenging. However, one time-saving tip I have adopted is synchronizing daily schedules with the rest of the household. For instance, my kids are fully occupied and self-sufficient from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. so that is when I schedule the bulk of my calls. Being aware of what the people in your house are doing and when they might require your attention allows you to build a schedule around possible interruptions.
Many of us are shifting to remote work these days. What are your tips for staying productive at home?
A tip for staying productive while working at home, especially with young children, is to find a quiet space where you can work with minimal disruption. I use noise-canceling headphones and, when needed, close to door to isolate myself. Our dog has been in heaven since we all started working from home and is always following me around. There are times when I need to keep him out of the room to avoid distractions. However, it always puts a smile on my face when I glance down from my screen and see Dash curled up on my lap.
I am definitely a “right brain” person and don’t have to have things in a rigid structure. Our family has been able to remain productive because we are embracing the unpredictable reality we find ourselves in. We operate best with some fluidity and flexibility in our day.