November we turn our focus to Emily Fisher, Account Executive at NET2GRID! With a background enriched by over five years of research in psychology, sociology, and positive leadership, Emily brings a unique blend of empathy and strategic thinking to the forefront. Emily joined NET2GRID almost three years ago as a Business Development Consultant and transitioned to her current role almost half a year ago, where she plays a pivotal part in helping utilities and technology partners in North America accelerate the energy transition. Emily holds a BA in Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from the American College of Thessaloniki.
Continue reading as we uncover Emily’s approach to client relationships and the impactful intersection of personal values and professional success at NET2GRID.
1. Hello Emily, and welcome to FACES! As NET2GRID's Account Executive with a primary business focus on North America, could you take us on a journey from your initial role as a Business Development Consultant to your current position? How does your personal growth align with NET2GRID's overall expansion as a company?
These last almost 3 years at NET2GRID have truly been an exciting journey and it’s been very fulfilling to experience the natural alignment between my own personal and professional development together with the growth of the company. When I was brought on as one of the first business development hires of the company, my initial task was to grow our network within a number of key accounts across Europe while our marketing team supported with relevant content creation for each market. As I grew in my role, there became a specific focus on growing our network, particularly in the US and North America, and I was even trusted to give a presentation at the SAP4U conference in San Diego when our CEO was unable to attend due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. Transitioning into my role as account executive felt like a natural next step and I was excited to be empowered with the responsibilities to not only make first contact with new potential customers but to also really nurture those relationships and help my contacts solve their most pressing business problems. Signing our first customers in North America this year was the culmination of this combined personal journey and the journey of the company to serve new customers in new markets with the same tried and tested technology that has allowed us to be a market leader in Europe.
2. Diving into your unique approach, you emphasize using 'radical compassion, transformation, and empathy' to foster justice, sustainability, and human connection. How do these principles guide your strategy in building and maintaining strong relationships with key clients? Any specific example?
I would say that these principles are indeed foundational to how I build and maintain strong relationships with key clients from a couple of angles. First and foremost, even though I am in sales and of course have commercial goals that I am tasked to achieve for the company, I never forget that my commercial goals can only happen if my number one goal is to help my clients solve their real business problems. I have to get into their shoes and really understand what their key challenges are and what their key goals are through research and through discussion. Only then can I be successful in selling the NET2GRID product as a solution to these challenges and goals. This has been especially important, for example, in managing our relationship with Intellihub, as they are our first customer in Australia and New Zealand. Although there are many challenges and goals that are shared with European markets, they also, of course, deal with unique challenges and contexts that I need to continuously be open to learning.
Further, I always remember that my customers are human beings, not numbers. I check in on how they are doing in light of current events that I know affect them, I learn about what is happening in their worlds, and I follow up on personal information that they have shared with me, all out of a genuine interest to connect. Out of respect for privacy, I will not share any specific examples here, but as someone who is lucky enough to have friends and family across the United States, I usually have my finger on the pulse of what is happening in many cities and states, so I always take this into consideration in my communication. 3. Shifting to your educational background, having roots in Philadelphia and a diverse academic journey, what motivated your decision to pursue an MBA in Greece and extend your stay by contributing to NET2GRID? How has this international experience shaped your professional outlook and contributions to the energy tech industry?
After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in Psychology, I was sure that I wanted to pursue my first career opportunity somewhere outside of the U.S. I really wanted to study abroad in university but wasn’t ever able to line it up with my educational and extracurricular activities so it became a huge priority for me for my post-graduate life. I was lucky enough to find an opportunity in my field of study in Thessaloniki where our Greek offices are based and I understood two things very quickly while in that opportunity: 1) that I did not want to pursue a career in clinical or counseling psychology, I wanted to look at things on a more systemic level, and 2) that I did not want to leave Thessaloniki even though I had no plan for after my 8-month internship. The solution I found to these two challenges was to continue my education in Thessaloniki in a program that would allow me to look at things on a more systemic level, specifically, an MBA which would allow me to study systems in the private sector.
After finishing my master’s, I applied my learnings to freelance instructional development related to applying psychology and neuroscience perspectives to the workplace. I also worked and still do work in the non-profit development space. But after some years doing this, I was ready for a bigger challenge, and found a perfect fit at NET2GRID where I could apply my business learnings but also learn new things about the energy industry and work towards the cause of accelerating the energy transition. Sustainability has always been a personal passion of mine as someone who experiences a significant amount of climate change anxiety, so getting involved in the energy industry by learning about and evangelizing the benefits of a tech product that has sustainability at its core has been a true pleasure.
4. Speaking of the energy industry, as it undergoes significant shifts towards clean energy, electrification, and sustainability, how do you envision the evolving role of energy tech companies in this broader context? What opportunities and challenges do you foresee for companies like NET2GRID?
Technology has always been and will always be fundamental to the energy industry as both a huge source of energy consumption and a huge source of energy innovation. There isn’t only one role that technology will play and the impact is going to be massive. This is why it is so important to foster a health tech ecosystem, where different products and solutions are able to work together to solve the major challenges that our industry and our world are facing. NET2GRID will need to stay steadfast to its strategy to be an analytics provider that works with other technology vendors across the space to deliver integrated and innovative solutions that can truly build the future grid and the future of energy.
5. Beyond your role at NET2GRID, you are a founding member and vice curator of the Global Shapers Thessaloniki Hub. Recently, you launched a podcast episode discussing quality AI jobs in Thessaloniki. Could you share more about this initiative and perhaps highlight another project or collaboration from your involvement with the Global Shapers Community?
With this initiative, our podcast series “Shape It or Leave It,” the Global Shapers Thessaloniki Hub team aims to inspire the next generation of changemakers in Thessaloniki by highlighting the amazing initiatives and knowledge present in our community. Thessaloniki is a truly beautiful and unique city, with a rich history and much to offer, but there is a sentiment among young people, particularly after the financial crisis of 2008, that this is a city devoid of opportunities in comparison to Athens. Taking a look around, one can see that this is not the case, that there are so many vibrant and hopeful stories to share such as the story of NET2GRID bringing high-quality jobs in tech and AI to Thessaloniki. So our goal is to amplify these stories and inspire young people to dream and to do for the improvement of our city. Other projects we’ve worked on included research projects on youth perceptions of the city, job training and mentorship opportunities, and collaborations with other Global Shapers Hubs across Europe and Latin America to improve financial literacy in youth. More information on this can be found at our website: www.globalshapers-skg.org.
6. On a lighter note, considering your American roots and your time in Greece, what's a favorite Greek dish you've introduced to your American friends? How have they embraced it, and has there been any amusing or memorable reaction to any particular dish that stands out?
My favorite story about introducing my American loved ones to Greek food has got to be when my mom came to visit. She’s a little bit more of a picky eater, especially in comparison to me who will try pretty much anything at least once, so when she saw my partner and I to eat the little fish like guppies, sardines, anchovies, and red mullets, even including the head and the bones, she was so shocked that she insisted that she take a picture to show to her friends when she returned home. When I asked her what her favorite food was, the response was: fresh bread, fresh tomato, feta cheese, and olive oil. The simplest but also the most fair response to that question because when you try a tomato grown on a small Greek farm or in someone’s garden together with feta cheese from a small producer and some pure, olive-green, 100% Greek extra-virgin olive oil, you understand why I couldn’t bring myself to leave.