As Ontario Regional Director at CanWEA (the Canadian Wind Energy Association), Brandy Giannetta’s job is by its nature purposeful. She is involved in policy and advocacy work to bring more renewable energy to Ontario, something that she says has become easier as people have realized that not only is renewable energy the right thing to do, but there’s a business side to it and luckily enough the economy has followed suit. “It’s not just about clean air anymore, there’s a lot more to it than that. It’s about having jobs with purpose, and work where we’re making a difference to society and really contributing to modern technology and progress,” she says.
We wanted to know more about the purpose that Giannetta finds in her work, but also how this meshes with raising two daughters (aged 10 and 12), and how all this impacts her views on life and motherhood.
Why did you start doing what you do?
For me, it was like coming full circle. If you look at my resume I did the politics and government thing, and there’s definitely purpose to that, but then I got my feet wet in the green energy sector and realized there are some good things we can do, it was much an education as it was a job. Then I moved into work that was more about just using my skill-set to be gainfully employed, then this job came round and they recruited me for it and it made sense. All those things I was dabbling in for the first ten years of my career was leading to this. I’m equipped to have that strength of my conviction and forge ahead being on the right side of history, even if it is a hard slog, which in this sector sometimes it is.
What does this work bring to your life?
I love what I do. I’m part of the movement that is building a strong and sustainable renewable energy sector so that in 10 years from now when the existing renewables that we have come offline, or it is time to build more, its going to be the right choice. I’m making the case for that, and I’ll be able to look back and say, “We did that.” It’s really cool and bigger than me.
Why is this work important?
It is creating jobs and impacting communities. One of the biggest success stories in Ontario with regard to jobs is that we had a lot of our auto-part manufacturing facilities scaling back or closing shop. A lot of those shops did very minor retrofits so that they were able to start supplying for wind turbine parts. There was a lot of modern progress, and now they’re contributing to the renewable energy sector. Plus, every year there’s a whole new set of technology contributing to the renewable energy sector in Canada and around the world.
Has parenthood changed how you view your work?
Absolutely. We all need to work to live and could do whatever we want, you can take any job for a paycheck, but I don’t feel like that. I’m doing this job because I love it and I know it makes a difference. I know that I am legitimately contributing to my kids’ future. I know my kids see me doing this and they won’t settle as a result of that, they’ll look for this in their own lives because they know you can have it.
What do your kids think about what you do?
They’ll ask what I do, and it is hard to explain because to a 10 year old advocacy work, policy and regulatory affairs doesn’t mean anything. They’ve created their own words for me, like mom is a “winderologist” or she’s a “wind expert.” What I love is that they have a sense of pride in knowing that I’m doing something right. They learn in school that renewable energy is good and air pollution is bad, they make those connections and they can look at me and say, “Yeah my mom does that, she is doing something good.” That is so cool. It doesn’t really matter what my job description is, they know I’m contributing to something good and that’s awesome.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to other parents about working/living with purpose?
I think that if you genuinely love what you do that will resonate in your daily life and that does your children a great service. Like it or not you’re a role model to your children, good or bad, and if you’re happy in your job and you’re contributing in whatever way, shape or form you’re bringing to your work and your life, that’s going to resonate, and your children are going to see that.
It’s hard to be a parent. You have to be everywhere and do everything, but when you’re happy at your job it makes everything a little more bearable on the day-to-day. I never roll out of bed and say “Oh my god, what do I have to do today,” and I know I’m lucky to love what I do this much.
Is there anything about your day-to-day life that you wish was more sustainable?
I wish I could drive an electric vehicle. I have two children in competitive soccer and I drive an SUV. My husband coaches soccer so my car is full of soccer balls and equipment. I need a large vehicle but I’d love it if it was emissions free. That sucks and I hate it. We live in a very energy efficient home, and we’re conscious of our footprint, but I get in my SUV and drive to soccer three times a week. When I get my electric SUV then I’ll feel like I’m really talking the talk and walking the walk. But we’ll get there and soon all of us will have those options with electric vehicles, and they’ll become more mainstream, but we have to push and fight for it.
What do you think you have in common with other moms?
We’re all fighting the good fight at home and at work. Honestly, we show up in that boardroom every day with our lipstick and our high heels on, but we just made sure bellies were also full, our kids were loved and hugged, and sent away with their lunches packed. We make no apologies for that, its not a secret life, and we wear it with pride. We have that sense of pride. We’re not trying to be Supermom, we just are because we’re getting it done every day.
What’s been hardest about what you do?
There are definite challenges. I know a little bit of my work slips because I’m doing family stuff, but there are times I can’t be there for my family because I’m at a work event or I’m traveling. I’m not perfect at balancing the two, but when I do find those times I’m in the moment. My sense of appreciation for things is fantastic, because if I can’t be there for the track and field event I’m feeling it, but the next time I’m there for the soccer game, I’m all there and I’m loving every minute of watching that soccer game. Facetime is definitely my friend when I travel, and I talk to my children on it all the time, it lets me feel like I’m in the house in the midst of the chaos and that is fabulous.
What other moms do you admire?
I’m involved with the Women in Renewable Energy, so I’m surrounded by all these women with focus and motivation for gender diversity, so I’ve definitely come to learn a lot from a lot of different moms. Knowing that there are other women out there doing what you’re doing is important — I’m not that rogue woman out there fighting the good fight, there are a lot and we need to give them all credit. Everybody is out there doing their day job and working their butts off, with kids at home.
The Whole Family Happiness Project is a group of moms exploring our connection to our individual purpose, our family happiness, and the happiness of the world around us. Come join us on Facebook.