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My Story: Riding the Winds of Change

Building on his skills as an auto mechanic, Sibere Stewart switched careers and moved to the booming renewable-energy industry.

What did you do as an auto mechanic? I worked for a Chrysler dealership, where I specialized in engine tear-down and overhaul. I worked a lot of overtime; 12-hour days were normal for me.

Why did you leave? After three years, I got bored with working on cars. In 2007, I was at a job fair and learned of turbine manufacturer Gamesa. It sparked my curiosity. I knew nothing about wind turbines, but there was a lot of talk about green energy, and I thought building them would be cool.

Was it difficult to move from car engines to wind turbines? The skills I learned in the auto industry -- reading schematic diagrams, repairing wiring, and working hard, fast and efficiently -- helped me excel at building wind turbines. I started at Gamesa as a mechanical assembler, and six months later I was promoted. Today I'm in charge of a group that builds the hubs that turbine blades are bolted onto.

How did you manage to get promoted in just six months? The company noticed that I was a good problem solver and leader. My mother was a single mom who raised four kids, and I saw how hard she worked. I've taken that with me to every job. My first job was at a Burger King, and I was told that I made the sandwiches faster and neater than anyone else.


How's business? For the most part, business is steady, though we're not working as much overtime as we did a year ago.

Do you feel moving to the green-energy industry was the right decision? Definitely. The more energy people need, the more I'm needed for my skills and expertise. That's good news, especially given the auto industry's problems. I make about $50,000 annually now, or $5,000 more than I did as an auto mechanic with much less overtime.

Is your lifestyle more eco-friendly now? I recycle more, and I carpool to work with three of my colleagues.

Has living green had an impact on your wallet? Yes. It costs me $10 a week to carpool with the guys instead of the $30 I would pay to drive by myself. Now I'm looking to buy a house that's closer to work.