Come join SparkMeter's Customer Operations team and help increase electricity access in developing countries. As a Field Support Engineer, you'll serve as our primary on-the-ground contact in East Africa supporting our utility and microgrid customers as they set up and operate our affordable smart metering systems. Your work will be rewarding and high impact: the electrification you will directly enable is a fundamental change in the way real people live, work, go to school, and relax.
You’ll focus on these areas:
- Customer support. Your primary practice area will be supporting our microgrid developer and central grid utility customers. Your proximity to their projects will give you the ability to evaluate any issues they’re encountering with the setup and configuration of their grids, and parse out distinct causes, ranging from power quality to server failure to communications system problems. In addition to working in the field to resolve technical issues and support new installations, you’ll handle inbound support requests and remotely support our customers with hardware or software issues they run into. In many cases you’ll be able to solve problems yourself, but you’ll also work closely with the entire SparkMeter team on trickier issues.
- Customer operations systems & processes. You’ll use what you learn day-to-day supporting our customers to help us shape systems and tools to improve our ability to respond to issues, including providing feedback to the SparkMeter US team as we build out a robust internal tool suite for technical support. You’ll also play a key role in interviewing, hiring, and on-boarding new members of our customer operations team.
- Product development. Customer focus is at the core of our product development strategy. Your daily experiences working directly with our customers will be invaluable for our feature roadmap, and will help us set the right priorities for the direction of our organization. You’ll regularly join product development meetings to make suggestions and give feedback, and tell the product team what you’re seeing in the field.
In your first few months of work, you might work on projects like these:
- Answer customer questions remotely. You’ll help our Customer Operations team work with our customers by responding to tickets over Zendesk, email, and chat, and occasionally, over the phone.
- Diagnose malfunctioning equipment. One of our customers in East Africa might have a small group of meters that is not working properly. You’ll work with them to gather as much information as you can, and if appropriate, get the meters back to Nairobi where you can do hands-on analysis to diagnose the issue. You’ll use what you learn to not only help solve the problem at hand, but to develop tools and protocols to prevent similar problems in the future.
- Support installation of a new grid in real-time. You might support installation of a new grid remotely or on-site, making sure that our customer and their contractors have all the information and resources they need to launch their new SparkMeter grid.
- Demonstrate new features to a customer’s team. We’re always adding new features to our software, and launching new hardware products. You might work with one of our customers in person at their office, or remotely over a screenshare and video chat, to show them new functionality and answer any questions they might have.
- Help set up an SMS and mobile money integration. You might work with the rest of the SparkMeter team to refine a customer’s use case for SMS and mobile money integrations, identify potential local partners to work with, and coordinate with vendors to get integrations tested and completed.
Where You’ll Work
This 100% remote role is based in Nairobi. Relocation assistance is available if appropriate.
You should expect around ~30% travel to work on-site with our customers — from traveling to other major cities to visit our customers’ main offices, to traveling deep into rural areas to visit grid sites. You should also expect occasional travel to work with the Product and Customer Operations teams in SparkMeter’s Washington, D.C. office.
In the future, there is the potential for this role to relocate to another region, or to Washington D.C.
SparkMeter was founded to promote opportunity in underrepresented communities.
SparkMeter's core value is opportunity: the opportunity for underserved communities to achieve great things. That's why our mission is to increase access to electricity in underserved communities - it is electricity and the services derived from it that unlock and create those opportunities. This value is reflected in our hiring ethos: we believe that the strongest teams have diverse backgrounds. Our approach to hiring has been validated by academic and industry studies that show that workforce diversity improves team and business performance. (It has also been validated by the quality of the team we've assembled so far!) We encourage applications from members of groups currently underrepresented in engineering.
Requirements & Skills
You'll be a good fit for this role if you have:
- Experience with hardware and circuit design. You’ll use your practical hardware and electrical engineering experience to work hands-on with meters and other metering system equipment to help the SparkMeter hardware team diagnose and resolve issues.
- Comfort with the Linux command line. Technical knowledge of Linux, and comfort working with systems on the command line, will enable you to work directly with our systems on the ground, and help you communicate more effectively with our technical team in the US.
- Empathy. Our customers are talented people from widely varying backgrounds with broad experience as technicians, businesspeople, and technologists. Our US team talks with our customers nearly every day, but we aren’t able to regularly see them in person. You’ll be the face of SparkMeter in eastern Africa, and you’ll use your empathy and emotional intelligence to cultivate long-term relationships with our customers.
- Experience working remotely. SparkMeter has team members all over the world, but this role is unique in our organization in the degree of time zone difference and geographic distance from most of the rest of our organization. We will provide extensive support for you and your work, but you should be confident in your ability to work independently.
We'd also like to see (but don't require) experience with:
- Rural electrification sector and utilities operations. With a solid understanding of the business challenges our customers face in this sector, you’ll be able to build trust, and proactively recommend solutions that make sense for their needs.
- Off-grid solar/solar-diesel hybrid systems. Many of our customers’ microgrids use solar and solar-diesel hybrid systems for generation. Your past experience will help you diagnose and solve issues more quickly.
- Geographic information systems (GIS). We use GIS to plot existing power infrastructure and develop plans for installing new grids. Your GIS experience will help you use existing GIS layouts and facilitate the creation of new layouts more effectively.
How to Apply
You can apply for this role at https://sparkmeter.typeform.com/to/fQyYXv.
SparkMeter is a venture-backed company that was founded in late 2013, a spin-off of the non-profit EarthSpark International. We developed our low-cost, pre-pay enabled, smart metering system as a solution for electric utilities in developing countries to serve low-income customers. Our metering system is being widely adopted by utilities serving customers in rural parts of Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean.