David Li: Assistant Project Manager, Swinerton Renewable Energy

After earning degrees in electrical and industrial engineering, David Li started his career managing construction projects for the Los Angeles Unified School District. He has worked at Swinerton Renewable Energy for six years as an assistant project manager for utility-scale solar installations.

David lives in Sacramento, but he is usually on the road during the week. While a solar project is under construction, he works onsite, mostly in remote areas. Typically, he sets up his office in a trailer, and the work environment requires some improvisation. “I take a couple sawhorses out of the tool bin and I just put a piece of plywood on top of it — that’s my desk!”

David’s job requires him to work with everyone involved in the project and ensure that it is on schedule and running smoothly. “The idea with project management is to get everyone pointed in the same direction and toward the project goal, whether it’s through phone calls, coordination, scheduling, paperwork, or getting tools into the right hands.” He adds that a key part of his job is to anticipate challenges before they come up. “A good project manager will actually be able to foresee where your problems are going to be, where your critical items are that need to be taken care of, and address any problems before they even happen.”

David describes the solar industry as a challenging work environment that’s also very rewarding. “It’s a busy, very fast-paced and constantly evolving industry. You’ve got to learn on the fly and keep going.”