Maury Dobbie is is the Executive Director for the Colorado Energy Research Collaboratory and the External Engagement Director for the Energy Institute at Colorado State University. Maury works ¾ of the time as the Executive Director of the Collaboratory which has been in existence since 2008 as an energy research partnership between four entities: Colorado State University, University of Colorado Boulder, Colorado School of Mines and National Renewable Energy Lab. She also works ¼ of the time with the Energy Institute on special energy projects. Maury was the former Assistant Director at the Center for the New Energy Economy for the past 7 years and has been immersed in the energy field for over 7 years now as she finds the field fascinating and a great opportunity for women to find their passion using their unique skills.
Maury was born in Germany and raised in Wyoming before coming to Colorado in 1992, and decided to head to Fort Collins because her perception was that it would afford more opportunities and a new beginning, and as a women entrepreneur it would be more welcoming and progressive. When she first arrived in 1992, she was a stockbroker with a local firm, but then continued on to start her own award-winning multimedia production company which was up and running for 16 years. She was also the president & CEO of a regional economic development corporation for 4 years before working at CSU. Maury has a bachelor’s degree in business administration and is currently completing her MBA at Colorado State University. She has also earned her Series 7 brokerage license in the 1990’s.When one thinks about how critical energy is in the ecosystem of a healthy economy, country and world I am even more convinced that making sure it is clean energy will impact generations into the future.
“When one thinks about how critical energy is in the ecosystem of a healthy economy, country and world I am even more convinced that making sure it is clean energy will impact generations into the future”
How did you land in the clean energy sphere?
I’ve always been a curious and ambitious learner — never being afraid to be the only woman in the room. I have noticed for most girls/women, it takes years to figure out what ignites our true passion — to figure out what we are really good at and to be confident in our own skin. Because my childhood and young adulthood was fraught with a lot of negative people and situations, I didn’t know where my true value was until I got older and allowed myself to search for a better life. I’d never have thought I’d end up in energy, per se, but I always believed I could do anything I set my mind on.
My faith and love of family have been my rock. Surrounding myself with positive influences, including remarrying a wonderful, supportive husband, have helped me create the firm emotional foundation that also influenced my career. I believe we have to perceive and then seek opportunity where others do not. Before it was popular to be a woman business owner, I felt it was the only way to control my own destiny. I don’t believe that’s the only career avenue anymore.
My reason for gravitating towards clean energy stems from being raised on a ranch where clean air, clean water, purposeful land use practices, energy as a foundational necessity and other factors could make or break the rural business and lifestyle. I learned an appreciation for hard work and environmental practices that weren’t even named back then. When one thinks about how critical energy is in the ecosystem of a healthy economy, country and world, I am even more convinced that making sure it is clean energy will impact generations into the future. It’s important to me that I am a part of something bigger than myself and meaningful in this world.
What do you consider your biggest successes?
I’ve been willing to take the risk to be different while having an eye towards finding solutions and making a lasting difference for generations long after I’m gone. It’s fun to look back over my various career paths and know that I’m peaceful about what I’ve been able to accomplish through hard work, determination, optimism, maintaining a sense of humor in dark days, thinking the best of people, finding that forgiveness necessary to moving on – all are powerful tools towards a fulfilled, happy life. While I’m not quite done in my clean energy career path and journey, it’s been gratifying to know that in spite of hardship and life’s ups and downs in my various career focus areas and my personal journey, I know the value of living it to its fullest. I remain (and practice every day being) hopeful and grateful.
I’ve ascended to some great titles in my career path, but I’d have to say my biggest success is having worked extremely hard to raise two children who grew up to be healthy, smart, kind, accomplished, honest, hard-working and positive adults. I spend time with my grandchildren trying to impress upon them the importance of the environment, why clean energy resources and conservation are so important. For example, teaching them to turn off the water faucet when brushing their teeth, because not having running water unless we trucked it in when I was a child made me appreciate the importance of clean water and where it comes from.
Has mentorship played a role in your career?
Mentorship was not a reality in my early years, nor was it something I saw a lot of. I remember learning who I wanted to be (or not) from passive observation. When I began my career as an entrepreneur at the age of 19, there were no women to watch that had businesses — so I observed how men became successful. It makes me even more hopeful that there are avenues in which young women, women starting their careers and those that have been in careers for a long time can engage with mentors and positive organizations. Knowing the difference in what I didn’t have as an advantage in my younger years makes me even more determined to be a part of creating it for others. That is why I’m passionate about what Colorado C3E is doing alongside other positive and effective partners.
How have you moved past challenges?
It can feel very vulnerable to share one’s life story when it isn’t always pretty, but my experience with extreme domestic violence was the most difficult challenge I have ever overcome — but the most rewarding because I lived to tell my story. It could have easily thwarted my career path and my intrinsic drive to find my value, feed my family and “climb the ladder.” That was never stolen from me because I fought hard to maintain my optimism, courage and quest for a better life. I also grew up in an economically poor environment without running water and the niceties I enjoy now — it was hard to break through the feeling of not having enough while striving for more.
I’ve worked hard over the years to finally find my worth, while at the same time recognizing what I do well and admit what I don’t do well. Surrounding myself with smart and positive people, no matter what I’m doing, is one of the keys to my success.Spending my career on what can make a difference has always been a life goal because I don’t want any regrets. I’ve found my career in clean energy to be very fulfilling.
How would you make the clean energy work space more equitable for women?
I would encourage women to own their own destinies by looking for opportunities that would elevate their clean energy careers. For example, offer to serve on a high-powered board where you can learn, grow and meet the right people. If we wait for equity, parity and fairness in the workplace, it may never be offered. But we can look for ways to stand out, knowing it takes hard work and determination. It isn’t easy finding opportunities where others don’t see them, but I would encourage women of all ages to not wait for it to come to them. In addition, I would encourage women to seek wisdom from others, both male and female, as they grow and learn who they are meant to be. Comparing ourselves to others in a negative fashion only stunts our growth and breeds a sense of helplessness. But using that energy to explore new ideas, hold oneself accountable and be curious about taking risks that elevate our career in clean energy can be empowering.
What projects are you excited to be working on now?
At the Energy Institute at Colorado State University, I really enjoy taking on projects that will ultimately make a difference in clean energy, whether that be in our state, our country or around the world. For the past seven years, CSU has hosted an energy conference that I’ve headed up. Through the team of many thought leaders, it’s wonderful to see partnerships formed, people talking in civil discourse who don’t necessarily agree, multi-million-dollar solution-finding energy projects being created, new common sense regulatory and policies being put into place, etc. At the Colorado Energy Research Collaboratory, I am excited that the three largest Colorado research institutions (CSU, CU Boulder, Colorado School of Mines) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory have worked closely together since 2008 on energy projects and research that will make a real difference in the world. The Collaboratory will be hosting the 8thannual 21stCentury Energy Transition Symposium on April 1-2, 2019 in downtown Denver that I’m once again heading up. Colorado C3E will kick off the event with its 3rdannual Women in Clean Energy breakfast. We’ve had powerful and accomplished women on stage telling their personal stories of how they experienced their professional careers in energy — you won’t want to miss it!
What do you want your legacy to be in work or in life?
Personally, I’d like my legacy to be one of someone who is an optimistic overcomer that spent time on the important things in life — humanity. Professionally, it’s important to me that the work I do now in clean energy affects the world for many years beyond my lifetime. In the coming decades, technologies, politics, cultures, industry, people and beliefs will all undoubtedly change. But the work we are currently doing in clean energy could be that stepping stone to a healthier and sustainable planet.I’d like to know I was a small part of that important work. While I’m not the expert in the technologies or research component, I’ve found my skills and value in the clean energy ecosystem while surrounding myself with brilliant and visionary minds.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I’d remind myself that a fulfilled life begins with recognizing my strengths and weaknesses then pursuing a career path that fits my passion and strengths. Be a lifelong curious learner that is willing to pay my dues in hard work, and educate myself on clean energy topics, which are vast and complicated. Formal education is key to success, as well as informal education such as working with mentors, being an unpaid intern if that is what it takes to get into the field of choice. Passive observation of people, asking questions and being willing to struggle through hard work may be necessary, because it can be the foundation in which to build my career. I’d tell myself it is okay to make mistakes and take risks, because eventually they become past memories and even stronger foundational intrinsic self-esteem builders. I’d remind myself to cherish the present moments versus always be striving “to get from A to B to C to D” without celebrating in between. Being too driven can rob oneself of living in the present.
How do you think C3E can encourage more women to pursue a career in clean energy?
The C3E organization is built on a firm foundation from a non-profit standpoint. Even more importantly, it is built on a culture and atmosphere steeped in encouragement of helping women find their place in the career of clean energy. There are so many facets of clean energy that no one person can be an expert in everything or every aspect; C3E is helping women find where they fit. C3E takes into consideration the diversity of age, race, culture and experience of women because they know one size doesn’t fit all. In addition, Colorado C3E leaders know the power of collaboration and partnerships. The foundation the Colorado C3E organization is founded upon should last the test of time. I say to men and women — Get involved —there so are many ways to connect and engage!