In This Together: Leading in a Fast-Paced, Evolving Time
Talking with Jon Michaels, Senior Vice President of Operations at Volta, can make you feel like you are preparing for battle. That’s because he’s been there. Jon finds many parallels between his 10 years as a Marine Corps helicopter pilot and leading his team at Volta, a fast-moving start-up headquartered in San Francisco.
As we contend with Covid-19’s impact on our lives and businesses, Jon has turned to some key strategies learned in the air to help his team navigate these uncertain times. His military experience has prepared him for how to pivot and problem-solve, ensuring that Volta chargers stay operational and ready for drivers.
Jon joined Volta in the fall of 2016, drawn to its mission and people. A purpose-driven company with a multifaceted team, Volta brings together people with vastly different experiences, perspectives and expertise. Different, yet unified behind a common mission to build an electric vehicle charging network that inspires change and drives the world forward.
Early on, Jon led the company in clarifying its mission and the core values. “At Volta we are a collection of our stories . . . the stories of what we have each brought to Volta, and the stories we are building together.” Every new employee is encouraged to read through the Volta Values and bring their passions to work each day. Even though the company has quadrupled in size since this founding document was created, “We will always be smaller than our ambition.”
Jon’s department is responsible for working closely with Volta’s charging partners from coast to coast to install and maintain our stations. Besides building the nation’s most intensively used electric vehicle charging infrastructure, Volta is also a media company revolutionizing and delivering out of home advertising where people charge and spend their time. According to Jon, both of these are rapidly changing spaces, and Volta is where they come together seamlessly.
“Something new is always happening every single day at Volta, multiple times per day,” said Jon. “Having a vision for the future is about building the right team, a team that can adapt quickly to changing conditions.” And now with Volta’s shift to mostly working remotely, it’s essential to stay people-focused. Jon is spending more time than ever reaching out and supporting team members in their individual situations, helping answer their questions and provide guidance and context. In a time when we hear the terms “essential personnel” and “non-essential personnel” being used more often, it's important to communicate that everyone is essential and to stay focused on the mission together.
It may feel like much of the country is grounded as we wait for life to go back to normal, but at Volta, we press on. Or as Jon would say, we continue to “aviate, navigate and communicate.” We remain committed to delivering essential charging infrastructure to our drivers and meaningful messages in our communities that bring us together.