24 April 2023

Phil Schneider: Solar experience from US to Finland

Phil Schneider started at Solnet in August 2022 when he moved to Finland with his family. He has a long experience in the solar industry after starting as the first employee at a solar company in Wyoming already in 2006.

”I studied Aerospace Engineering at Purdue University in Indiana. It was really interesting but there weren’t many opportunities at that time in that field. I ended up working as a mountain guide and leadership instructor, primarily in Alaska. This partly explains my interest in the northern latitude of Finland. I met my wife in Alaska and we worked and traveled around South America and the US. I really enjoyed my work as a ‘wilderness engineer,’ teaching others how to camp and travel outdoors, manage adversity and uncertainty, and lead others.”

”Through my interest in nature, I always thought that if I wanted an office job I would like to work with renewable energy. First I considered wind power but then got to know this solar energy company in the US. It was a small company and I did a lot of different things at the time, solar projects and geothermal heat pumps but mainly worked with solar energy. I found that solar energy was reliable and costs were coming down.”

Phil has been doing all different kinds of jobs in solar energy mostly design and engineering but also software development and project management.

Working for a purpose

According to Phil solar is really a foundational technology for fighting climate change, an important part of the mix of energy sources that society uses.

”Solar is really interesting as it is so flexible and scalable from small to large projects. You can use pretty much the same technology on residential roofs, or in utility-scale ground installations. Solar energy has always stood out for me as an important renewable energy,” explains Phil of his enthusiasm for the industry.

Phil ended up in Finland with his family as they wanted an international experience living abroad, and he also has some relatives in Finland. He landed a job at Solnet through mutual contacts. “I have really enjoyed working at Solnet. It was difficult to choose to leave my former company and this is my first job outside of the US. But I have been lucky; Solnet has great people and interesting types of work. I suppose it is also this industry, it attracts certain types of people who want to work for a purpose. I find commercial rooftop projects and working with customers motivating. We are working with several large well-known companies and these projects are very interesting.”

Living and working in Finland is great

Phil has been really enjoying his time in Finland and thinks that the work-life balance is good in the country.

”Living and working in Finland has been great. We really appreciate the health care system and educational options for my children. Finland is also a safe country and it provides an increased level of independence for our children. Helsinki is also a good base to travel abroad.”

As a keen outdoors person, he can also enjoy his favorite activities in Finland. There may be better mountain biking possibilities in Wyoming but in Finland he can still go camping and cycling. He also loves cross-country skiing, and there is plenty of that in Finland.

”I have managed to break out of my comfort zone by working on the Finnish language and playing "sähly". We are also planning some backpacking trips around Europe. I go rock climbing with my daughters sometimes. In the summer there are a lot of possibilities for water activities e.g. sea kayaking and we already love spending time at the many lakes of Finland.”

Joanna Viileinen,
Head of Marketing and Communication