June 21, 2011 | Leadership, Workplace Culture + Practices

Now I sit at a desk at NRG Systems in a community outreach role, after a career in social services and higher education.  Like many people of my generation, I left college believing there was an unbridgeable divide between jobs that save the world and jobs that don’t, summed up in the words “nonprofit” and “for-profit.” Yet, employed now by a deeply values-driven company, I understand the arbitrariness of this distinction, based on an IRS incorporation status.  What matters more is how we work together to make a powerful difference in the world.

My first summer job in high school, I worked for the accountant dad of one of my friends.  I did simple tasks – sorting checks, reconciling bank statements, and other things that a teen with decent organizing skills but virtually no financial literacy could master.  Little did I know that my summer in a cubicle in a commercial office would be the last time I’d work in a for-profit environment for three decades.

A blog post, written for nonprofit leaders, asked, “Why do [nonprofit organizations] define ourselves in the negative?  It makes no sense. Does your organization exist to not make any money?  Or, does it exist to save lives, change lives and impact lives?  Stop defining yourself by what you’re not. Start defining yourself by what you are for: impact."

How do we at NRG Systems define our impact?  We are dedicated to delivering precise, reliable and proven wind measurement and turbine control equipment to our customers to advance wind energy development.  Yet, as we state on our website, our impact extends much further than the products we make. It is about the values that we share—a set of values that drive our business, guide our decisions and hope to make this planet a better place.

You can read more about the fundamental values we strive to pursue.  Or, just talk with some NRG Systems employees and hear what we are up to, making a difference in our workplace, our neighborhoods, our state, our nation, and our world.

Whether our careers, professions, and callings are labeled for-profit or not-for-profit, there is much work that urgently needs doing.  Let’s get on it – there is no time to lose.

Ann Jones-Weinstock, NRG Systems’ Director of Philanthropic Initiatives, is exploring ways to give back to the community that has been our home for more than two decades.