Heather Barclay Findlay ’03 laughed when asked about her career path. She said, “I would not say I have had a career ‘path.’ It’s been more like choose-your-own-adventure.” A double major in religion and modern languages and a Nisbet Honors alum, Heather has chosen a variety of adventures. Among them: earning a Master’s of Theological Studies at Harvard Divinity School, portraying Sarah Revere as a costumed tour guide, writing a Let’s Go travel guide on Germany. She has also worked as a web developer, a nanny/fingerpaint artist, a conference producer, and a marketing specialist for a smart thermostat start-up.
Heather’s career path reflects her philosophy for living. She says, “The greatest thing about life is that it is fluid, spontaneous, serendipitous, and in every single moment there is opportunity for transformation.” She has made the most of her opportunities for transformation, especially in her current position as Director of Corporate Social Responsibility and Global Community Outreach for SkyPower Global, the world’s largest solar development company.
The Next Adventure
SkyPower Global builds giant solar farms. Heather manages an international team and travels around the world working with communities to design programs that empower citizens and create local economic development.
“I created a job from nothing. My current position didn’t even exist until I went to the CEO and created it.”
Heather believes in creating opportunities where there are none and in following her passions. She said, “I created a job from nothing. My current position and department didn’t even exist in my company until I went to the CEO and created it. We didn’t do any community outreach. Now, I have a global team, and we are inspiring and empowering people in communities around the world.”
When asked how her religion and modern language majors prepared her for her current position, she said, “I get this question a lot. They were perfect preparation for my current position. As a religion major, I studied the stories of people from the very beginnings of history into the present. I spent time with Hindu grandmothers rolling puri in temples, heard the call to prayer echo over the hills of Jerusalem, chanted with nuns in the crumbling monasteries of Rome, and spent many hours celebrating birth, death, and everything in between with religious peoples. I fell in love with what it is to be human.”
“Most of the communities in which I work are deeply religious. I developed respect, humility, and open-mindedness as a student, sitting for hours at the feet of religious peoples listening intently to the myths and rituals that define their worlds. I do exactly the same today when I meet the President of Senegal or the King of Angola. I ask them to tell me about their people, their beliefs, their foodways, their traditions. If their custom is that people bow and clap to them, I bow and clap.”
Advice for Students
Heather’s advice to today’s Converse undergraduates: “Get out of your head, stop worrying about whether your major will lead to an obvious career, and focus instead on being in action to create whatever it is you are passionate about creating in this world.” She also believes students should study abroad.
“She slammed her hands down on her desk and told me I was completely oblivious of what I was capable of…”
“When I was at Converse, my parents could not afford to support my education. I had no money, and I told my professor that I could not go to Rome because I couldn’t afford it. She slammed her hands down on her desk and told me I was completely oblivious of what I was capable of, that it wasn’t up for discussion, and to leave her office and go find a way to make it happen immediately.
“Sure enough, by the end of the day I’d found ways to fund the whole trip, and that trip set a magnificent trajectory for the entire rest of my education and career. Even if you don’t travel, take advantage of everything there is to offer in your own community. Befriend classmates who are different than you. Go to church one day with your Evangelical friends and the next day, go to the mosque with your Muslim friends. Celebrate religious holidays with everyone – if anything it will make your own faith stronger, and who doesn’t love extra holidays?! Surround yourself with mentors, visionaries, people you look up to who are very different than you and will tell you the truth.”