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    Design Team’s Energy Visionary: Nyan Lin Htet




    What do you get when you mix idealism and drive with some serious brainpower? Meet Nyan Lin Htet, Proximity Product Designer and solar energy enthusiast, recipient of a highly selective scholarship to participate in a five-week exchange program with the University of Montana to learn more about global environmental issues.

    We caught up with him before his flight to Missoula and discovered that Nyan Lin Htet’s interest in renewables dates back to his final year of engineering studies at the Myanmar Maritime University. While carrying out exhaustive research for an essay contest about the low-carbon societies of the future, Nyan Lin Htet became aware of both the urgency and the potential for emerging technologies to alleviate some of the world’s most pressing problems.

    Pursuing this further, he eventually enrolled in an online course on solar energy at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. Nyan Lin Htet spent at least three hours every day studying complicated equations and learning about semiconductors, as well as solar cells and solar systems, all the while bearing with power outages and slow Myanmar internet speeds. Still, out of the 57,000 people who signed up for the course, he received one of the top 35 scores, and was one of four students selected to visit Delft University for a one-week workshop. The visit had a huge impact on him and made it clear that he had to find a way to align his values and his work. Which is why Nyan Lin Htet set about researching the solar landscape in Myanmar while participating in a “Startup Bootcamp.”

    It was around this time that Proximity’s workshop first got a call from an inquisitive young man requesting data about our renewable energy lanterns.  “I had attended many meetings and conferences about social business, so when I learned that Proximity was a social enterprise with a design lab I was so excited,” he explains. It wasn’t long before Nyan Lin Htet joined Proximity, where he fit right in as a product designer. “The Product Design Team is unique in Myanmar,” he says, “here, every member has different ideas and everybody is allowed to think outside of the box and to think creatively.”

    Already, Nyan Lin Htet has helped the team design a solar panel stand that positions panels at the optimum angle given Myanmar’s northernmost and southernmost latitudinal locations. Currently, he's drinking up plenty of fresh Montana mountain air and soaking in as much as he can about opportunities to bring unique energy and environmental value to Myanmar customers.

    Tireless and positive, Nyan Lin Htet is determined to become a successful social entrepreneur one day, and we can’t wait to see where his mix of strong ideals, initiative, and intelligence, take him.  

    At Proximity's Product Design Lab, Nyan Lin Htet shows off his battery expertise




    New Year, New Faces: Su Hlaing 


    Su’s love of other cultures started early. Growing up, Su attended an international school in Yangon, where her classmates – often the sons and daughters of diplomats – hailed from around the world, an experience that informed her childhood career decisions.

    “I used to want to be a diplomat,” she says with a small laugh as she makes herself at home on a couch in Proximity’s office. Well spoken, poised, and rarely without a glowing smile, Proximity’s newest team member would have done a fabulous job in the foreign service, but we’re lucky she chose Proximity instead.

    While her fervor for diplomacy has waned, her enjoyment of different cultures has only grown. Su received a full scholarship to attend university in the United States, where she studied Asian studies and Chinese. After graduating, she worked in Washington, D.C., at an international food policy research organization with coworkers from all over the world.

    She recently moved back to Myanmar to reconnect with family and friends, only to discover her cross-cultural education would continue in her home country. Now, she says, her job at Proximity has taught her about rural ways of life in her own backyard.

    During her first three months working with our irrigation division, Su jumped right into her new role by traveling all around the country giving sales training to field staff and developing relationships with countless farmers along the way.

    “I saw Myanmar in a way that even many people here don’t see [it],” she said. “I saw how hard rural farmers work and how they are really in need of techniques and strategies. When we’re able to provide for those needs, through Proximity, I feel like I’m doing something for my country.”

    Giving back to her community has always been a big part of Su’s life, from teaching English in Yangon during her secondary school years to volunteering with refugees in the United States. Her desire to have a positive impact drew her to Proximity’s social mission, and her love of adventure drew her to what she saw as its creative, international culture.

    Here, her role is still evolving; Su will be working with a number of different teams during her first few months to find the perfect position for her within the organization. It won't be the first time someone who's multi-talented and versatile was hired at Proximity and given a taste of different roles before defining their own. So far, Su's enjoying her role at sales, and we can't wait to see where she'll end up.