Employee Spotlight: Professional Athletes at SolarCity

2014 was a great year for green job growth at SolarCity: we added 4,000 new hires to our team, and have hit over 9,500 employees to date. 

Those are 9,500 bright, determined individuals, from a diverse array of backgrounds. In celebrating our team and all their various talents, in the coming weeks we’ll be highlighting some of the SolarCity employees who have also held careers as professional athletes. Meet our first all-star:

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Melissa McMorrow is the reigning World Boxing Organization and Women’s International Boxing Federation world flyweight champion. She currently defends her titles by competing all over the world.

Role at SolarCity: Architect for our new manufacturing facilities- the solar panel gigafactory in Buffalo and the Silevo R&D facility in Fremont.

Hometown: San Jose, CA

Office: Fremont, CA

Started working with us: 6 years ago

Why did you join SolarCity?

I received my education in architecture and had been working in firms prior to joining SolarCity. I found the firms to be inflexible, which wasn’t good for my boxing career. This was around the time SolarCity had just come out with its first lease. It was the first green company I had seen that was successfully solving the problem of affordability- at that time in architecture, clients had to have a lot of money to go green. SolarCity was starting a drafting department, and I joined the team because I believed they’d be able to offer the structure to pursue my career goals, and the flexibility to pursue my goals as a boxer.

 

How have you grown at SolarCity?

SolarCity has been great about giving me the opportunity to try a lot of things. I started out managing the drafting department, and later moved into program management for our commercial solar account with WalMart, to gain the experience I needed to obtain my architectural license. After getting my license I became the architect of record on all of our school carport installations. When we acquired Silevo I switched over to help with that project.

What’s your favorite aspect of your job?

I’d have to say the scale of everything. That’s the interesting thing about moving from PV installation to manufacturing: manufacturing is massive, so the undertaking is 500,000 times more complex. The jobs I’m working on now are very involved in terms of the mechanical and electrical systems each will house, so there are a lot of technically specific areas to focus on. My team instructs contractors working on detailed parts of the design: architects, chemical engineers, chemists, etc. I’ve enjoyed that.

Office culture in a few words:

Surrounded by geniuses.

You’re actively competing in women’s pro boxing. How do you balance work, life and the sport?

I’m actually fighting in Rosarito, Mexico this Saturday. I train twice a day, six days a week. It’s difficult to balance but I carve out the time. I’ll do things at weird times – if I have to train in the morning and have a SolarCity project due at 10am, I’ll be up late doing the work the night before.

 

How did you get involved in the boxing?

I’ve been boxing for 10 years. I got involved when a friend invited me to a fight party in Berkeley (laughs). I was afraid it would be hardcore but when I got there, saw that it was more of a party than anything else. There was a boxing ring set up in the middle of the room. I’ve played sports my whole life, and I thought to myself, “I would win if I got in there”.

 

What’s been the most triumphant moment of your athletic career?

When I won my titles. The championship match was held in Germany and the girl I competed against was the local favorite who was undefeated, 29 – 0. It was a huge upset.

Any advice for those looking to succeed in their career, be it professional boxing or otherwise?

Don’t give up on the things you want. I think that happens a lot to women in particular…they want children and careers and it can seem like a lot. It might take talking to your boss, protecting your time, bearing down on key responsibilities of your job… but there are ways you can have it all.

We’re looking for trailblazers from every walk of life to join our fast-growing team. Check out the current opportunities on our career page.

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