Haitian immigrant Nesli Francois has made major strides during his four years in America. Taking up residence outside Boston in Arlington, Mass., Francois had limited job and English skills. But in those four years, Francois has moved up the ranks with Westborough, Mass.-based Conservation Services Group (CSG), growing from an apprentice to the highly coveted role of energy specialist.

The 39-year-old Francois put in the work and last year was honored by the Asian American Civic Association (AACA) in Boston with the George A. Russell Jr. Career Advancement award for his accomplishments since arriving in the United States.

Francois’ progression has been nothing short of remarkable, CSG director Carl Fawcett said, calling Francois “a real shining star.”

“He’s always interested in learning more,” Fawcett said. “He wants to learn about building science, which is endless. He’d always read on the side, go out with inspectors, and it really helped him move up to the more thorough, more complicated audits. He has a really good attitude. He wants to help customers and has a real strong work ethic of going above and beyond to get his work done.”

Francois came to CSG in 2010 after finding his way there through the AACO. “After coming to the U.S. from Haiti, I joined the Asian American Civic Association in Boston,” Francois said. “The group conducted a home weatherization training course that I took. I was put in touch with Conservation Services Group.”

Francois started at CSG as an apprentice in 2010 and joined its trainee program in 2011 before being hired full-time as an energy specialist later that year, working in the Mass Save program, which helps low-income families make their homes more energy efficient.

“I wanted to find a job that would enable me to grow, personally and professionally,” Francois said. “Energy efficiency seemed like a growing field and it was doing something good for the environment. So I enrolled in the energy-efficient maintenance-skills program offered through the Asian American Civic Association. When I completed the program in 2010, I was referred to CSG. I found out that CSG is a national energy services firm that has been around since 1984, so it was well established. The firm carries out award-winning work for residential energy-efficiency programs around the country, so I was very excited to join the company.”

In 2012, Francois was promoted to energy specialist for the Mass Save Residential Conservation Services team.

In addition, Francois felt the energy-efficiency field offered something other careers couldn’t compete with. “Working in the field of energy efficiency is a stable career choice,” he said. “There are so many opportunities that benefit employers and their workers at every level.”

For Francois, helping people save money by making their homes more efficient is the most rewarding part of his job. He noted he’s never had a boring day at work.

“Every home is different — made of different materials, different ages, different approaches,” he said. “Every home has its own sets of challenges. I also learned that insulation really works, no matter what type of house it is.”

While Fawcett was Francois’ supervisor for a year, Francois’ current supervisor is CSG lead energy specialist Kyle Svendsen. While the manager might have changed, the reviews of Francois’ work stayed the same.

“Nesli is great,” Svendsen said. “He is extremely hard working and wants to make sure all customers benefit from their home-energy assessment. Any time he encounters a problem or issue that he does not have an answer to, he is extremely eager to learn from the experience.”

Francois’ progression has been so rapid, especially when it comes to speaking English, that Fawcett said he didn’t even know Francois was still learning the language.

“I didn’t find that out until he got that award and I was in the background like, ‘really?’” Fawcett said. “His English is excellent. I never would’ve thought that. If people speak a second language, there’s a delay, but you don’t have that with him. He’s acclimated really well.”

Even though he greatly impressed Fawcett, Francois still considers the language barrier to be the biggest hurdle he has to overcome. Francois spoke Creole in his native Haiti and is still learning more and more English each day.

“I am still working on my English,” Francois said. “It is not an easy language to learn.”

Fawcett said Francois has made an impact with the company in his nearly three years with CSG, being one of those people who make an impression. “Whenever I see him, he has a smile on his face and gives you a hearty handshake,” Fawcett said. “He’s very appreciative of what he’s earned, and he’s really taken advantage of an opportunity. He’s grown and provided for his family. His family is very proud of him.”

And Francois’ tireless work ethic is something brought up by both Fawcett and Svendsen.

“He is continually at customers’ homes past 7 p.m., making sure they are satisfied,” Svendsen said. “He is continually burning the midnight oil sending out emails past my bedtime.”

With his desire to continue learning and improving, the opportunities seem endless for Francois as he continues to build himself into a contractor on the rise.

“The first step to achieving success in this field is a willingness to learn and keep updated on the latest certifications to make you the best contractor you can be,” Francois said. “I am fortunate to work for a company that offers training support for contractors so that we can all be our best. There are many other steps involved to achieve success, of course, but I’ll add that it doesn’t hurt to love what you do either. I came to CSG to save energy and save the world. Doing something amazing is the key to enjoying your work and being fulfilled.”

Publication date: 1/28/2013