Next is Michael Jung, executive director of ICF’s climate center and finalist in the “Humble Beginnings” Podcast Episode category. Here, he shares career turning points and career advice.
What was a turning point or inflection point in your career?
In 2006, I made a significant career change by leaving a very comfortable and promising job in the electric power industry to volunteer as a policy advisor for a gubernatorial campaign. I wanted to contribute to a cause I believed in and even greater opportunities to make a positive impact.
Looking back, it was pretty risky. I know I would have deep cause for concern if my own children took a similar leap. However, my parents, who were immigrants, served as my inspiration having taken even greater risks in pursuit of their dreams.
The campaign won, earning me the opportunity to craft comprehensive energy policy that transformed the state from laggard to leader on clean energy initiatives. The knowledge and experience I gained during this time built the foundation for my subsequent accomplishments in cleantech, and now ICF.
What’s your best career advice for those who want to follow in your footsteps?
Don’t follow in anyone’s footsteps! This staggering moment, marked by the launch of a profound energy transition in response to the daunting and urgent climate crisis, presents an unprecedented challenge. It is unlike anything we’ve ever done before. We’re going to have to rewrite the playbook on how we power our economy, plan our infrastructure, operate our industries, and meet our societal needs.
From my own journey, I hope others draw the lesson of not being afraid to take risks when your heart tells you that you’re ready for the next big thing. And to always aim for the biggest impact you can make in the shortest possible time.
Fail early and fail fast, for failure is the greatest teacher. And the lessons she imparts serve as the foundation for the successes and innovations we will need to achieve resilience and prosperity for all.