We spoke to ForeFront Power Development Project Manager Les Bolden to learn about the life of a project manager at ForeFront and hear his thoughts on how we can encourage more people to choose renewable energy.

Les BoldenWhere are you from originally?

I grew up in Colorado, and later moved to Georgia when I was twelve. I call Georgia home, but I still return to Colorado for Christmases and summers every chance I get. it’s beautiful out there. You get to see the mountain ranges all over and I miss that.

 

What do you like to do in your free time? Do you have any hobbies?

I like to work out during most of my free time. I do CrossFit, so I train and coach about five days a week. Right now, I’m trying to train and see if I can make it to the CrossFit games. It takes a lot of dedication and being strict with your diet. It’s definitely a full-time job, so fingers crossed.

Other than that, I like to read books or listen to audiobooks. I also like to go hiking and spend time outdoors. Both Colorado and Georgia are great places to do that.

 

Who was someone you looked up to growing up? Did you have a childhood hero?

I was fascinated with sports growing up, so I’d probably have to say Ken Griffey Jr. I loved watching him play, especially with his dad. I always thought that he had a beautiful swing. I remember going out in the backyard to practice and trying to copy it.

 

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be a pro athlete. I played sports up through high school and went to a Division II school in Kentucky, where I played baseball and football. After playing football all four years of college, I had a chance to try out for the Canadian Football League, but I didn’t get to do that. I still miss the competitive aspect of sports. That’s how I gravitated towards CrossFit.

 

What led you to the renewable energy field?

I studied political science in college and wanted to be a lawyer. I tried to take the LSAT a couple of times, but it didn’t quite work out. I did know I had always been fascinated with renewable energy. I took a course in my senior year of college in sustainability. From there, I just knew that’s what I wanted to do. After school, I got an opportunity to be a construction manager for a cell phone company, Verizon Wireless. I did that for a couple of years, and then in 2015 I got to join a solar company here in Georgia. I’ve been in solar and EV ever since. That’s been my journey so far and I love where I’m at today with ForeFront Power.

 

How did you find Forefront Power?

I was at a company that wasn’t fulfilling me in the way I wanted. I saw a couple of posts on LinkedIn about a few opportunities located in California. Those didn’t necessarily work out, but the recruiter I had initially worked with got me in contact with someone trying to fill a project management job with ForeFront and introduced me to them. It all worked out. I got hired as a Development Project Manager on the National Behind-the-Meter team and I’ve been here for almost a year now. Everybody I’ve met at the company has been great. Everyone is really helpful and I hope to be for a while.

 

What does your day-to-day look like?

Every day is different. You could be spending a day speaking with the engineering, procurement, and construction company trying to get updates on the job and another day communicating with the customers on any concerns or questions they may have at the time. You could be just at your desk all day filling out paperwork or trying to get permits to get the job going and clearing title reports and whatever that entails. At the beginning of the week, I try to schedule my week out pretty well, but it constantly changes on a day-to-day basis which I enjoy.

 

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy creating relationships with different people. In project management in general, you have so many different key stakeholders and people involved. There are so many different personalities and people you deal with. It’s fun engaging with the customer, the owner, your engineering team, or your procurement team and creating those lasting relationships. Once you do create those types of bonds with people, future projects down the road get a little easier.

 

What do you find most challenging?

The fact that everything changes. You can have a project going well, and then you hit a roadblock. You have to find out the problem, create a plan to fix it, and get that fixed. I pride myself on being adaptable and just being ready for anything that comes my way.

 

Do you have any favorite projects you’ve worked on?

So far, I’ve mainly been helping with a few projects with another project manager. I’m waiting for that big project to come along. In my previous position before coming to ForeFront. I loved working out on solar farms in Southern Georgia. Those are entertaining rural areas where you get to meet all the townspeople and get a feel for how they feel about the project in general. They’re so appreciative of what you’re bringing into the community and everything. A lot of the time, farmers are dealing with a considerable loss of land. They’ll come to us and try to figure out how they can get solar on their farms and let it pay for itself. You can install a massive amount of solar in their field and just let it sit there and do its job. I’ve done a couple of those types of projects before. Those are really fun.

 

How can we encourage more people to embrace renewable energy?

We can reach so many more people to help solar and renewable energy grow to its full potential. It’s about trying to find the most efficient way to reach the masses. We have to figure out a way to educate people and encourage government bodies to relay that information to their citizens and let them know that this will be the future, this is how things should be to make the world a better place. In some areas I’ve worked in, like some of the rural regions of Georgia, they don’t understand or know about the benefits of solar. To them, there’s this unknown. If we educate everybody on it, everything will go a lot smoother.

 

What are some important lessons you’ve learned?

I’d say being able to adapt on the fly. That’s the biggest thing that I’ve had to grasp. Starting out in project management, I thought I was going to go in and have a normal day-to-day, but that’s never the case. You just have to be able to think on your feet and just kind of go with the flow. I always have a plan in mind and have a plan B, C, and D and just go with it.

 

What advice would you give to young people pursuing energy careers today?

Just go for it. The renewable energy industry is only going to continue to grow, and you don’t want to be left behind. There are tons of opportunities out there. Get here as fast as you can and be prepared because once it gets busy, it gets busy.