This spring and summer AFAM continues interviewing smart and successful women gadz'arts living and working in the US. Today please meet Soazig Kaam (Bo 209) who will tell us about her life and work in San Francisco bay area.
1. Tell us about your career path and area of expertise today. How did it come about?
I have always wanted to work addressing Climate Change. I started in this field conducting research at the Center for the Built Environment (CBE). My research focused on Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) and energy efficiency in commercial buildings. Later, I specialized in data-driven approaches for smart HVAC controls in commercial buildings, with a focus on computer programming, data analysis and visualization. I just started my new job in the Global Sustainability Strategy team at Wework as a senior lead for the energy program. Prior to that, I worked as an energy engineer and data analyst at BuildingIQ, a technology-enabled services start-up provider of HVAC energy management solutions.
2. What do you do every day at work? How does being a Gadz’Arts help you in your everyday tasks and team management?
My work is a good mix of technical expertise, team and project management. At BuildingIQ, I held a cross-functional role connecting Strategic Operations, Product, R&D and Data Science. I developed products and tools to support our operations team with data analytics. I led projects to develop new products and services for smart HVAC controls. I also owned the energy audit piece of the business: acting as the technical expert in pre-sales calls and internal meetings. In the start-up environment, you are often the first person at your position, so you often have to “figure it out”. Being adaptable, creative, flexible and a fast-learner are big assets. In addition, being a team player and showing empathy are also critical for me. I can say that being a Gadz’Arts helped me develop and nurture these skills.
3. How did you come to the US- why and when? How is your work life different than in France?
Before starting my 3rd year at Art et Metiers ParisTech, I did an internship at the Center for the Built Environment (CBE) at UC Berkeley. After graduating Arts et Métiers ParisTech in 2013, I started my grad program in Building Science/Architecture at UC Berkeley. I graduated in December 2016 and have been working in the Bay Area since then. I don’t have much experience working in France so I cannot really compare.
4. What is the best advice someone ever gave you? Why?
“You have so much potential and you have so much to offer, but you cannot be at your best if you don’t take care of yourself first.” Back in 2016, I had to drop out of the PhD program after 3 years (out of 5). It was hard for me to give up on this, but ultimately, I realized the timing and fit were not right and it started to take a toll on my mental health. Friends and family were really supportive and helped me realize that my work outside of academia could be as impactful as pursuing a PhD. Ultimately, I have decided to put my health and well-being first, gave up on the PhD, got a Master’s degree instead. The last 2.5 years have been so fulfilling. I have gained such valuable professional experience that helped me land my dream job in the city. I have realized that I am at my best where my life does not solely evolve around work and when I am able to find this nice work-life balance. From the free time I have gained, I was able to explore more: community projects, meeting new people, joining a dance company, playing music and exploring other creative outlets.
5. What is one favorite way to spend your free time (hobbies, weekend activities)?
The Bay Area has plenty of outdoor activities opportunities. I love going on hikes, camping, backpacking, running. The Bay is also a great place for creative experiences. I practice dance. I joined a hip-hop dance company in Oakland for 1 year, now I am mostly taking weekly classes. I play music. I used to be a lead vocal in a band here. Now, it’s mostly jam sessions between friends and occasional shows. I am a fashion designer. I was a design director and charity runway show producer for the UC Berkeley fashion club for 3 years.
Thank you again, Soazig, for sharing your experience and thoughts on life in the USA for Gadz'Arts! AFAM is grateful for your support.