Behaviour changer Amelia Warren

As director of customer experience and partnerships at EfficiencyOne, a one-stop-shop for people wanting to reduce their power bills and lower their carbon footprint, Amelia Warren is in the business of changing consumer behaviour.

It is an interesting time. We are changing how we think about energy efficiency to the point that it has become a consideration when we seek out a new home. “That speaks to the growth that we’re going to continue to see. Having an energy efficient home is going to be as much a selling feature as having those granite countertops,” Warren says, “People want a well insulated home and they want to know how efficient that home is and what the energy bills look like. That wasn’t something they were asking ten years ago.”

Warren joined EfficiencyOne in 2014, shortly after the birth of her daughter (now aged five), and strives for work life balance just like all moms. We wanted to find out how she meshes these parts of her life, and how her work brings her purpose.

Why did you start doing what you do?

I didn’t make a direct choice to take an environmental or low-carbon job, but throughout my career I’ve chosen to go where I feel like I’m contributing to something bigger and that I’m having a positive impact on the wider community. So this job was a really natural fit for me. Getting to learn more about this industry has definitely deepened my interest in environmental causes.

What does this work bring to your life?

I have a young daughter and I’m expecting my second, so it is nice to be able to come home at the end of the day and feel like my time at work is time well spent. It feels good to know that what I do with my time and my energy at work is ultimately helping to contribute to a better future for my daughters. You see all these storms that are happening and the direct impact that climate change is having on people’s lives, and I like knowing that the time I spend at work is trying to help counter this.

Why is this work important?

We’re providing consumers with independent advice that helps them find the right solutions for their unique circumstances, because there’s no cookie cutter approach to this. When we talk about behavior change initiatives, we know that people want to do the right thing. But they have to know how to do it and where they need to go to get help, whether that be in the form of advice or rebates. I think that consumers appreciate having that independent body to go to.

My role is overseeing our efficiency trade network — all the local businesses that we have contracts with, and the informal relationships with, such as the people who come and insulate your house or install heat pumps etc. There are 100s of businesses that are part of the network and those numbers are growing all the time. We get to support so many awesome, really neat and innovative companies, and entrepreneurs that work in this industry.

Has parenthood changed how you view your work?

The piece that I think changes for everyone when they become a parent is that you have a much more vested interest in the future being a good one. You stop thinking just about how things are going to affect you. You have someone that you now have to explain things to, and answer to in some ways — that makes you think about why you do what you do. For me, that’s made it all the more important.

I hope that it sets a good example to my daughter that when you find something you’re really passionate about, that you can contribute to, there’s a lot of satisfaction that you can get out of that. I hope that she’ll have this in her own life regardless of the career she chooses.

What does your daughter think about what you do?

She is already starting to have an understanding of how important this all is. She’ll tell me to shut lights off, and knows why we shouldn’t waste energy. Even at her young age she understands some of those concepts. She’s come to my office sometimes and has got to draw on my whiteboard, and still thinks that is the most important part of my job!

Is there anything that you feel you could do better in terms of saving energy?

For me it is mostly little things and it comes down to competing with convenience. It’s those times when you’re packing up your kid’s lunch and notice the amount of packaging going in there. It is a struggle, because we’re all really busy. So one thing we talk about a lot is how this has to be easy. In some ways it has to be easier than not doing it, especially when we’re trying to get to work and we’re balancing kids, and they’ve got to get here and there. It is totally understandable why we’re not always making the right decision. I’m only human, so I’m guilty of those same things too.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to other parents about living with purpose?

It isn’t all an either or decision. You can just try to do the best that you can each day. For example, my husband and I are vegetarians, but for people that eat meat the idea of maybe having one meal a week where you don’t eat meat is better than eating meat every day. None of us are going to be perfect, but you can try to make as many good decisions as you can every day.

What do you think you have in common with other moms?

That challenge of trying to do all you can to be present in your child’s life on a day-to-day basis and balance that with all the things you want to do with your career. For women I think there’s sometimes a different level of expectation between what it takes to a be good mom, and what it takes to be a good employee. That’s a struggle that all women have in common and can relate to each other on.

I’m lucky to be in a workplace that is really family friendly. As a manager it is important to me that I both create and model that kind of environment. It’s important that they don’t see me as someone who comes into the office at 7am and leave at 6pm, and they see that there are ways that I achieve that balance in my life, and that ultimately gives them permission to make those same decisions themselves.

What’s been hardest about what you do?

Finding balance without burning myself out. Self-care is something that has just happened for me this year. I turned a little room in our house into my designated exercise room, and for some reason having that room has really made a difference for me. I’ve made a dedicated effort to take that time for myself, and sometimes that means I’m not helping with dinner, or my kid watches TV instead of getting ready for bed or whatever. I’m taking that hour for myself and I have to say it has made a huge difference in terms of how I feel about myself and what I’m able to bring to the table as a mom and to my workplace as well.

What other moms do you admire?

There was a former manager of mine who would talk openly about the difficult parts of being a mom. I find that we always have to qualify how much we love our kids before we’re allowed to say something that sucks about having kids. She would always talk openly about the parts that sucked without the qualifier. I think it’s okay to say that sometimes you’re happy to go to work because you need a break from your kids, that doesn’t make you a terrible parent. She was a role model for me, because she taught me that in order to be a good parent, you have to be in a good place. That requires being able to have time for yourself even if that time is your time at work, so I’ve tried to never feel guilty about that because working makes me a better mom.

Now I’m expecting my second daughter at the end of the year, I’m intending to take three full months off from work, and then I’m going to come back part time. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve told that to who have just been horrified, and wondered how I could do that. It’s actually because I enjoy being at work and it is an important part of my identity. For some women I get that having that whole year at home is wonderful, and I’m happy for them, but in the same breath I can say that is not the right thing for me. There needs to be space for both options out there, without women having to feel guilty for one or the other.

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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.

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