Erin Gately

Erin Gately

Title
Green Electronics Council
Organization
EPEAT Registry Services Manager
Location
Portland, OR, United States
Erin Gately
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Biography

Erin Gately's Dream Job

It’s not easy to determine how green computer products are, but Erin is working to change this. At the Green Electronics Council, Erin works on an online tool that helps people select and compare computers based on their environmental performance. 

A passion for saving the planet
Trained as an industrial engineer, Erin was working in the marketing department at Hewlett-Packard when she took a class on how much humans consume and how drastically such consumption affects Earth. The class had a profound effect on her, and Erin thought that she might leave HP to find a job protecting the environment. But Hewlett-Packard was recruiting people to help design more environmentally friendly products. Erin stayed with the company to become an environmental product steward, combining her engineering skills with her passion for saving the planet. Now she is a Registry Services Manager for EPEAT (Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool) and ensures that computer manufacturers are accurately representing how green their products are. 

Best part of being an engineer
“Getting your engineering degree teaches you to fully use your brain. My background is in industrial engineering, but my analytical-thinking skills are applicable to my whole life.  I have used my skills in manufacturing engineering jobs and marketing jobs, and also in my current job managing EPEAT’s Quality Assurance programs at the Green Electronics Council."

Favorite project
Erin was part of a team that investigated using biodegradable corn-based material to manufacture the shell of a printer.

Education
B.S. in industrial engineering, University of Miami, Miami, Florida; M.B.A. in Sustainable Business Practices, Bainbridge Graduate Institute, Bainbridge Island, Washington.

Family
Erin and her husband have a daughter and twin boys.

Hobbies
Soccer, volunteering for environmental organizations, and reading, “which is an important part of my life and recharges me. I read at least one or two books per week.”

Fun Fact
Erin raced a sailboat from San Francisco to Oahu with a team of eight other women. They were the first all-woman crew to finish the Pacific Cup!

Advice
“Go for it! Being an engineer doesn’t mean you can’t have a life.  You can be an engineer and have a social life and a family too. My engineering degree has allowed me to be whatever I have dreamed of being.”

Answers by Erin Gately

Hello,

I am an industrial engineer with a MBA and I have three kids.  I strive to find balance between home and work.  One way I have done that is to work 35 hours a week.  Those 5 hours give me some flexibility and freedom for volunteering at my kid’s school or going for a run or playing guitar.  When I was in my mid-30s my husband and I wanted to have kids.  We tried for a while and nothing happened.  Then we found out about a very cool business school (Bainbridge Graduate Institute, now Pinchot) and decided to go to school.  I ended up getting pregnant in the middle of my first year of school.  My child was born just after the second year of the program started.  I was able to take a leave of absence from work so I could focus on my daughter and business school. I got really good at one handed typing from typing up papers while holding her!  I only had one child at that time so I was able to give both my daughter and school the attention they required.  I think it would be more difficult (but not impossible) to go to school with young children.  Are they in school or pre-school?  If so, you can do your work when they are in school.  Do they nap?  That is a great time to get school work done (unless you also need a nap!)

Personally, I love school and would like to continue to learn new things for the rest of my life.  I have recently been taking some courses in Green Chemistry which relates to my job and also interests me.  Practically speaking though, school is a big expense!  I think it is important to focus on what you want to do and what schooling you need to get there.  And be sure the return on investment is one your family can afford.  Good luck with whatever you decide!

Best regards,

Erin Gately

Hello Raeven, There are many paths to an environmental career. Most disciplines in engineering have green paths these days. Depending on what you are interested in and where you decide to go to school, I think you will be able to find something really interesting. You mention that you like recycling and inventing. One area that is really exciting right now is green design. If you pursue a Mechanical Engineering degree, you can focus on how to design environmentally friendly products. Since electronic products have such a quick turn over these days, research into ways to use scrap electronics is big right now as is designing greener products in the first place. I wish you the best of luck finding a great fit for your interests! Best, Erin Gately

Hello Julie,

For my entire career I have worked for Hewlett-Packard. I feel fortunate because Hewlett-Packard has a very flexible work policy. They are the kind of company that encourages you to take your vacation and to get your work done in 40 hours. I won't say I have never worked more than 40 hours a week but that has been the exception rather than the rule. As a wife and mother of 3 children, I work part time in a field where I feel that I am making a contribution. I took two leaves of absences with the births of my three children (also a policy supported by HP). I think the key to managing a career and your family life is to find a good company that cares about you as a woman and a person with a life outside the company. Each year there are lists of companies that are the best places to work for people with families. Look into those companies and see what they need. If you can find an engineering career in an area that they value, they will make things work for you. Good luck!

Best regards,
Erin