Rob Wilhoite, Boston Energy Wind Power Services’ Vice President of Operations, joins Bostonair Group for their recent Boston spotlight interview. Read below, or watch the interview, as Rob takes us through his career journey, from his time in the UK Army to becoming the business lead for a global organisation.
BS: Hello Rob, first of all, could you provide some detail on your life away from work? What hobbies do you enjoy?
RW: Away from work I am a family man that enjoys spending time with my wife, two children and two spaniels. Much of my time is spent outdoors, come rain, or shine I will always find an excuse to fire up the BBQ no matter what the time of year! Having recently ‘hung up the boots’ from my rugby playing days, I needed to find a new hobby. I am now a keen runner that clocks up as much mileage as possible and challenging myself by completing long-distance running events like ultra-marathons.
BS: What is your professional background and connection to the wind industry?
RW: I joined the British Armed Forces straight from school entering the Army’s engineering branch – the Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers. I served for 9 years across Europe, North America, Africa, and the Middle East. I left the forces in 2015 to forge a career outside the military and began to look for various industries that allowed a transfer of my engineering skills. The wind energy industry immediately grabbed my attention as a relatively new sector that presents an exciting future globally. I was also keen to be a part of an industry that is striving towards a sustainable renewable energy source, and in turn, having much less impact on the environment.
BS: Why did you initially wish to enter the wind industry as a turbine technician?
RW: Having left the Army in a middle management position I knew that I would almost need to start my career over; I also knew that finding an industry that allowed the best transferability of my skills and qualifications was critical. The wind energy industry presents a broad range of opportunities for technician and field base positions whilst also providing the opportunity to grow and develop a career into management. My first break in the industry was working for an independent service provider that contracted into some of the biggest wind turbine manufacturers, assisting with their operation and maintenance campaigns. Soon after I was given the opportunity to join one of these manufacturers – (Vestas Wind Systems) as an Authorised Technician and worked within a small team of dedicated technicians charged with the up keep of nearly 200MW worth of onshore wind power.
BS: You are now Business Lead for USA, tell us more about your role and responsibilities?
RW: In 2019, I joined Boston Energy and was immediately given the opportunity to grow and expand our service offering to the US wind energy market. This began with an in-depth due diligence process prior to the incorporation of our subsidiary which is now located in Rhode Island. I am charged with the daily operational management of this business and its contractual obligations supporting our customers. I am also responsible for the growth, training, and development of our technicians where I am supported by our Operations team. We are currently operating across multiple state and project locations right across the Midwest, so it is a very exciting to be apart of.
BS: Can you provide some detail on the Boston Energy Wind Power Services subsidiary and the range of capabilities and services provided by the business?
RW: Boston Energy Wind Power Services is a new business within a new market however, we have a solid track record within the wind energy industry, and we hope to build upon that experience when developing our US service offering. At present we provide a variety of Operation and Maintenance services that support the complete lifecycle of a wind turbine – these vary from Construction, Commissioning, Maintenance and Statutory inspections works. Having worked for over a decade on onshore and offshore wind project in Europe, we plan to utilise that expertise when growing our capabilities in the US.
BS: What are your plans for Boston Energy Wind Power Services for 2021 and developing the customer proposition?
RW: Although like most businesses, the current global pandemic has provided its own challenges, it has not faltered our position and plans. It is a very exciting year ahead where we are looking grow and develop our business relations across onshore market. A key part to our US set up is the projected offshore wind pipeline and we will continue working with that ecosystem along the North Eastern seaboard, in preparation for some exciting opportunities in the future. Workforce development it critical to maintaining an experienced and dedicated team of technicians, we will be looking at technical colleges, postgraduates’ schemes and veterans’ agencies that will all assist in growing a new workforce.
BS: What are you most proud of achieving during your time with Boston Energy?
RW: Boston Energy advocates opportunity for its employees and my career journey to date is proof of that. The company provided me with the foundations to build a career path through varying levels of management – I sometimes have to pinch myself because just under 2 years ago I was a field-based technician troubleshooting, repairing and maintaining wind turbines and today I am leading the operations of a new business in a foreign country. Additionally, appearing on the local State news channel in Rhode Island discussing the impending offshore wind industry was a great experience – some say I gave Ron Burgundy a run for his money!!
BS: What has working for Boston Energy been like for you, and what would you recommend to others about the business?
RW: Boston Energy – TO BE ADDED FROM FIRST RECORDING
BS: On a final note, Rob what are your ambitions for your future career? Do you see yourself becoming US-based?
RW: It is my ambition to grow and develop the US business; emulating our parent company footprint by supporting both onshore and offshore industries. This will be achieved by building a solid team of technicians who are suitably trained and experienced whilst being supported by a driven back office team. I do see myself and my family living in the US but let us wait and see what future beholds.
You can find more information about Boston Energy at www.bostonenergy.co.uk.
For more on Boston Energy Wind Power Services, click here.