Energized by our People: Reflections from our 10th Annual Company Summit

Borrego recently held its 10th annual summit, a companywide event that brings together all of our employees to connect, learn, and renew our focus on our company mission to accelerate the adoption of renewable energy. This three-day is filled with informative sessions, plenty of time for team building, and — new this year — an epic Battle of the Bands. Reconnecting like this each year is core to Borrego’s employee culture — and fosters the expertise and enthusiasm we bring to all our customer relationships.

Our worth is in our people

Our CEO, Mike Hall, opened the summit with humbling remarks about Borrego’s history, from working out of his parents’ house in the early days of solar, to our current market leadership as the largest provider of commercial solar nationally based on Q4 2018 data. As Hall spoke to nearly 300 Borrego employees — our largest group ever — he expressed an enormous sense of pride in our growth, especially our recent milestone of energizing more than 500 megawatts (MW) of solar power. Borrego was also named one of the best places to work in the Bay Area in 2019.

During the summit, Hall spoke a lot about growth — for each of us personally and for us as a company. On the one hand, growth as a company brings the challenge of maintaining a familial company culture, which is why we gather each year to reconnect and focus on our core values. Getting everyone together in one place is an integral part of keeping our culture authentic and strong.

On a more personal level, he reiterated Borrrego’s commitment to continually investing in its employees, the biggest asset it has. During his opening remarks, Hall said: “As a company, we don’t have a proprietary technology; we don’t have a factory. What we do have is our people, who bring together their expertise and knowledge of how to work with our customers to develop, engineer, build, and operate & maintain successful solar and energy storage projects.”

As a company, we don’t have a proprietary technology; we don’t have a factory. What we do have is our people, who bring together their expertise and knowledge of how to work with our customers to develop, engineer, build, and operate & maintain successful solar and energy storage projects.”
Mike Hall, CEO, Borrego Solar

Borrego’s focus has always been about growing the right team and focusing on our culture and our principles. So it was a natural fit that the theme for this year’s summit was one of our core principles: “Investing in our Employees and Challenging them To Grow.”

Investing in our people

The agenda for the summit included workshops and working sessions designed to equip Borrego employees with the opportunities and tools to take on new challenges and grow personally and professionally.

There was an engaging keynote (and later a workshop) from Akshay Sateesh, a leader in using play to help people envision their career goals and map out the steps toward achieving them. Likening us all to superheroes, Sateesh took us through a series of activities to get us thinking about our own unique traits and the core principles that drive each of us – essentially, creating a personal mission statement. This approach really resonated with employees because it speaks to the value of focusing on something bigger than ourselves, working outside our comfort zone, and using our core principles to guide decisions.

In another session, a panel of long-time Borrego employees shared their career paths at Borrego. This included funny anecdotes about the company’s early days and candid stories about their successes — and failures — over the years. These veteran employees gave great examples of how they’ve navigated through new challenges and followed their interests to the positions they hold today. In wrapping up this discussion, Borrego President, Aaron Hall, tied the session to our continued theme of growth: “We are always going to learn something in the process of pursuing an opportunity.”

We are always going to learn something in the process of pursuing an opportunity.”
Aaron Hall, President, Borrego Solar

Growth mindset

During the summit, Mike Hall also spoke about the growth mindset, an approach to curiosity and learning that has enabled the company to be successful over the long term. From the top down, Borrego encourages feedback, the willingness to try new things, and being open to both challenges and failures.

Underscoring this point, Hall said, “when we challenge employees to try new things they’ve never done before, we realize there’s two sides to this coin: things might not always work out; we might fail; we might make mistakes. And one of the greatest things about the Borrego culture is that we understand that risk can result in failure, and that’s OK.”

When we challenge employees to try new things they’ve never done before, we realize there’s two sides to this coin: things might not always work out; we might fail; we might make mistakes. And one of the greatest things about the Borrego culture is that we understand that risk can result in failure, and that’s OK.
Mike Hall, CEO, Borrego Solar

Teambuilding and camaraderie

Aside from our working sessions, the other primary component of our annual summit is getting all of our employees together to reconnect, have fun, and build camaraderie. Now that we number over 300 employees in 5 offices across 4 states, this week plays an important role in building relationships with our coworkers and getting to know them casually, over a game of volleyball or ultimate frisbee on the beach.

Aaron Hall said it best: “You can’t do everything alone here at Borrego. We are a team, we’re a family. Take a look around you. The people sitting next to you are the people that are vital to making things happen.”

You can’t do everything alone here at Borrego. We are a team, we’re a family. Take a look around you. The people sitting next to you are the people that are vital to making things happen.”
Aaron Hall, President, Borrego Solar

This year, we added a Battle of the Bands to our main dinner event, not anticipating even a fraction of the musical talent that stepped up to the stage that night. Little did we know that each office has several talented musicians and singers (and two great bands from our Chicago office), and our offices are still talking about how exciting it was to have a live Borrego concert at the summit.

Carbon Offsets for Travel

With regional offices in Massachusetts, New York, Oakland and San Diego, it’s no small feat to transport nearly 300 employees to San Diego for the summit. As a mission-driven company, it’s important to us to help solve the world’s energy problems. This year, that included helping another community with their energy needs by offsetting our carbon footprint from air travel to the summit.

Based on everyone’s flight information we used a calculator to determine our carbon footprint. To offset that amount, we worked with The Gold Standard to donate to a program that provides refugee families in Chad with the material and training to manufacture solar cookers and prepare their meals using energy from the sun.

Catching Lighting in a Bottle

A lot of effort goes into creating a cohesive event each year that balances business and fun, and a number of people said it was our best summit yet. One employee said we “caught lightning in a bottle” and captured a special feeling of connectedness that’s hard to find in a typical work setting.

As a member of the team that planned and executed the summit this year, I can’t begin to explain how exciting it is to get that kind of feedback and see our company celebrating. Everyone seemed to leave energized; I know I did. I’m excited to see how that energy will help us grow through the next year until we gather again for our next summit.

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