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Making the Leap with Ebony Wiley

In this episode of Voices of Energy, host Katie Mehnert, founder and CEO of ALLY, interviews Ebony Wiley. Ebony is the founder and CEO of the Marteen Holland Group, a consulting firm that helps clients achieve their career and unique business goals. Ebony is also the creator of the Pretty Little Leader podcast, a bold communication on the tactics and strategies Ebony has used to navigate her rise to status as a corporate executive and career in the power generation industry. Ebony uses the podcast as a way to interview rockstar women about how to level the playing field and get what they want out of their careers and life in general.

Leaving corporate (03:33)

Ebony is an unapologetic leader and a successful entrepreneur, but she actually built her career in the corporate world. She spent 18 years at General Electric, a company with a strong reputation for fostering diversity. She began as a process engineer, but over the years she climbed in the company, saw opportunities to travel to several countries and negotiate the sale of power plants, and become a proposal director aimed at providing technical solutions to bridge the power gap most third world countries experience.

The challenges of change (06:15)

Ebony loved her work with GE, and found it to be impactful on under-resources nations and both fulfilling and enjoyable. However, she made the difficult decision to leave GE and the corporate sphere after reaching what she terms “the breaking point.” This decision was rooted in the fact that Ebony worked for a leader who questioned her every decision and was not honest with her, all in spite of the fact that she was a capable and well-performing member of her team. In deciding to leave, Ebony first called her husband, a close friend, and her sponsor; she then considered what would be next for her before consulting with her team to receive their input.

Becoming an entrepreneur (08:45)

On the other side of her transition, Ebony is able to look back and process the move and lessons it taught her. She loves her new role as an entrepreneur, and has enjoyed keynote speaking, coaching, and in general using her experience and voice to empower others. In addition to seeing a new side of herself, Ebony has gained lessons to pass on to other people considering a move from corporate work to an entrepreneurial venture. To such a person, she says to first write your purpose down, then write out a budget and hire a business consultant.

What does the future of energy look like? (11:46)

Taking up the topic of the ongoing energy transition, Katie asks Ebony for her view of the future of energy. Even though she no longer works in the corporate energy field, Ebony has a wealth of knowledge about the field, and she explains that the future of the field is wide open, and that small businesses and entrepreneurs such as herself can be involved by partnering with large corporations and vision-casting for them.

The significance of diversity in the energy transition (14:21)

As the interview nears a conclusion, Katie asks Ebony how important it is for diverse voices to be involved in the energy transition. In response, Ebony emphasizes that representation matters a great deal, because every group of people represented provides unique and valuable input that no other group could contribute. In fact, one of the main issues in the corporate world as it stands is that majority groups have often tried to write off minority group views using stereotypical views that say more about the majority than minorities it claims to represent. With diverse voices, though, the tendency toward this sort of practice will be undercut, and a more inclusive and well-rounded energy transition can be accomplished.

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We are pleased to welcome Shanta Eaden to ALLY Energy as Chief Operating Officer.