Habitat Energy Explored: Q&A with Liza Lebedev, Head of Product

Category: Global, People

Date: 5 June 2023

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Find out what it’s really like to work at Habitat Energy with the latest in our #HabitatEnergyExplored series. This month we talk to Liza Lebedev, our Head of Product. Liza joined us in 2019 and established our Product function from scratch. She now leads on the creation and delivery of our global product roadmap, working collaboratively across functions to ensure it is aligned with business strategy and client needs. Liza talks about ‘first principles’ problem solving, finding work-life balance and why it’s our people that set us apart.

What does your job involve?

I am the Head of Product for Habitat Energy, which means that I work with our country-specific product managers to decide what products we should be building and why. I think the most important part of the job is marrying up the long-term vision of what we want to be building over the 2-5 year horizon with the day-to-day reality of delivering product needs to enable our live operations.

What do you enjoy most about the job? 

I’d say two things. First, my colleagues. It’s a job which requires interaction with a really diverse set of people, and it’s rewarding to work with such a talented group of people. The second is the work itself. With products, you get to dig into ‘first principles’ problem solving: taking a really complex problem and distilling it down to its core components. It is intellectually rigorous and fun –  great training for your brain!

Which of Habitat Energy’s values most resonates with you?

Helping others grow and succeed. I get a lot of joy out of helping others achieve, but I also benefit from it! “Continuous learning” is a close second: I love the idea that we should be perpetually curious; and it’s definitely a necessary piece of the product puzzle.

How do you balance work and personal life? 

Having experienced burnout in past jobs, I’m a lot more careful now. The problem with burnout is that you don’t know it’s happening until it’s too late. So I try to take things day by day. I know that there are weeks where I will work really hard. Then there are days where I say to myself, “There’s space today to go at a slower pace.” and I’ll take more time for myself and get outdoors. It’s not all places that can allow you to do that, so I’m very appreciative that Habitat Energy enables that kind of flexibility and care.

How did you get into the renewables industry?

I started out in strategic consultancy, but I wanted to do something more operational and high impact. I considered working in the public sector – doing international development work through an NGO or government body – but consulting made me realize that I could do that kind of high impact work through the private sector too. The more exposure I had to clean tech – and the energy sector in particular – the more I was drawn to it, which is ultimately what led me to Habitat Energy.

What excites you most about working in this space?

The level of change that has to happen is enormous. In a way, we haven’t seen this kind of sweeping infrastructure build-out in places like Europe and the US since World War II. The scale and coordination required is almost unfathomable. It stands to redefine how the private and public sector intersect, how society evolves and interacts with change – and that’s really exciting.

What do you think the industry should be doing to promote greater diversity and inclusion? 

I think the first thing is how do you get people earlier in the pipeline. Secondly, how do you attract people whatever their background. And thirdly, how do you demystify the industry and make it more accessible. On a societal level, people just flick a switch, but what is energy? What types of roles exist? Are there more than just STEM related roles that you can do? I think there’s a lot more as an industry that we can do to make the sector more accessible and make people aware of the opportunities that exist.

How does Habitat Energy differ from other companies you have worked for?

It’s the people, and you can’t discount how valuable that is. I’ve never worked with so many smart people where there’s such a balance between confidence in our ability to meet our ambition head on, with a lack of arrogance and ego in how we work. That culture has maintained itself as we’ve grown, which is pretty amazing.

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