Invenergy Blog: November 19, 2020
Invenergy Veterans Spotlight: Brad J. Simpson, Senior EHS Manager
As we celebrate National Veterans and Military Families Month this November, Invenergy offers our sincere appreciation to our veterans for their service to the country and for the expertise and dedication they bring to our company and the clean energy field.
Veterans are uniquely positioned to excel at Invenergy thanks to the skills acquired during their service. Approximately 10 percent of Invenergy employees are military veterans, spanning from the staff at our Chicago headquarters to the technicians and plant managers working at our energy centers across the country. We are grateful to work alongside our veterans to build a more sustainable world and proud to highlight their stories throughout November.
Today’s featured vet is Brad Simpson, a Senior Environment, Health, and Safety manager working at our Turkey Track Energy Center (169.5 MW, Wind, TX).
How long have you worked at Invenergy and what is your current role?
I have been with Invenergy for eleven years, and I work with Invenergy’s senior leadership to develop and implement Environmental, Health, and Safety (EHS) policies for wind assets across the company. I monitor these assets for compliance with local, state, and federal EHS guidelines and liaise with outside agencies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to ensure currency of EHS programs. I also conduct EHS training and collaborate with the American Wind Energy Association working groups to create industry-specific guidance and safety campaigns.
Please share some details about your military service.
I was in the United States Air Force for twenty years and attained the rank of Master Sergeant. I supported conventional and special munitions maintenance, storage, and loading, as well as flight line operations support for F-4E/G, B-52, KC-135, F-15, F-16, A-10, B-1, and C-130 aircraft.
My family and I have also been stationed all over the world, including Japan and twice at Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany. I was deployed to Aviano Air Base in Italy in support of NATO aircraft operations during the Kosovo War, Ahmed Al Jaber Air Base in Kuwait for Operation Southern Watch, and U.S. Navy Support Facility Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean for Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Our stateside assignments included Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota and Dyess Air Force Base, Texas
Some of my temporary duty assignments included work at Jever Air Base in Germany to support NATO forces weapons load training and at Karup Air Base in Denmark to support Danish/US Air Force combat tactics training. Other assignments included support of multi-national advanced aerial combat training at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, and leading a team of aircraft maintenance specialists to support Air Force One and the US President’s visit to Bismarck, North Dakota.
Was the energy industry your first job after the military? If not, what drove you to the energy industry?
It was – I started at Invenergy on April 20, 2009, approximately 20 days after retiring from the Air Force.
How did you get your start at Invenergy specifically?
Before retiring from the Air Force, I worked in aircraft quality assurance with Mark Grotjan, previously the manager of Invenergy’s Turkey Track facility in Texas. He retired from the Air Force before me and was working for Invenergy at the time, and I called to personally invite him as I was planning my retirement ceremony. He mentioned that there was a safety position open and I forwarded my resume and cover letter to him the next day. I was welcomed to join after a few interviews and a climb test.
How did your military experience prepare you for your job now? What skills, capabilities, and characteristics transfer over?
When it comes to the safety of different tasks and job sites, the duties in wind operations and management are essentially the same as they are in the aviation maintenance complex. The unknown for me was how all the safety processes and knowledge were applied in an environment 300 feet off the ground. But the military provides training to perform your primary job or specialty in addition to a variety of out-of-scope tasks. These are done in extreme weather conditions – think winter in North Dakota and summer in Kuwait – and in remote locations with limited support, such as Diego Garcia Air Base in the Indian Ocean.
And in general, there is a lot of overlap in the characteristics of veterans and wind technicians –qualities such as professionalism, motivation, and integrity. Both are well-trained, well-educated, and perform with a high degree of autonomy.
To you, why is it important that Invenergy commit to hiring veterans?
I spent time with folks from all branches and of just about every rank during my time in the military, and I’m convinced veterans have the skillsets to perform any job in the energy industry, whether in an operations or executive capacity. This natural ability will be a great asset to the company and its operations.
Thinking on my time with Invenergy, I’m aware of how much personal and professional growth has happened through the opportunity to do my job at many sites across the fleet. I know many other veterans will feel the same.
What does Veterans Day mean to you?
Veteran’s Day is an opportunity to say “thank you for your service” to those who have served and those who are currently serving – not that the sentiment shouldn’t be uttered during the other 364 days of the year! That phrase sums up quite a bit and means so much.
It’s also an opportunity to speak with and listen to veterans. They all have incredible experiences and stories to share.
And last but not least, Veteran’s Day is an opportunity to reflect on those who are no longer with us, a painful reminder of the cost we pay to have certain rights and freedoms.