Employee Spotlight: Molly the Equestrian

Amy Hou  |  July 24, 2018   |  Urjanet News  


On this month’s Urjanet employee spotlight, we’re jumping into new territory — horse territory, that is. Data analyst Molly O’Neil has been on the Urjanet team for 14 months, driving the customer support lifecycle through problem analysis, troubleshooting, and communication between internal teams and customers. Outside of work, she spends most of her time riding with and advising the Emory Equestrian team. Little did she know, her lifelong passion would someday boost her skill set in her day-to-day job of utility data analysis.

From Foal to Full-Fledged Rider

Molly first started riding when she was six years old. She was inspired by her neighbor who, incidentally, quit only a few weeks after starting lessons. But it didn’t matter at that point; Molly was hooked. Horseback riding had a natural appeal to her since the beginning. She’s always loved animals: as a kid, she would go bird watching with her dad. Her video games of choice were veterinary simulations.

To young Molly, horseback riding was athletic without appearing to be too challenging. “When I played soccer in kindergarten, I always insisted on being goalie so I wouldn’t have to run up and down the field. So I liked the sound of horseback riding because my horse could do the running for me,” she says. Of course, she soon realized that equestrian practice involved more than just sitting on a horse.

Horses & Humans: A Special Connection

Horseback riding is a multidimensional sport. It requires not only physical and mental acuity, but also technical and emotional sensitivity. Contrary to her childhood expectations, one does have to be in very good physical shape to be a good rider, but it extends beyond that as well. “It’s the only sport where your ‘equipment’ is alive. When you’re working on a new skill, you’re not only teaching the animal, but you’re trying to teach yourself how to teach the animal. Each horse responds differently, and you need each horse to trust you,” says Molly.

“It’s the only sport where your ‘equipment’ is alive.”

As it happens, she’s had to lean on those same skills at Urjanet. As a data analyst, Molly’s responsible both for very technical work and for empathetic, communicative work as she manages relationships with customers. She bounces back and forth between navigating in-the-weeds issues that arise and explaining those issues at a high level to people who come in with little understanding of Urjanet’s product. “You have to have both sides — technical and communicative — to be a good rider. And that’s how I am with everything in life,” she says.

Ride or Die

Molly has had a long and varied relationship with horseback riding, but every time she fell off, she got back up and started riding again. The first time she fell off a horse, she was only seven years old. Shaken but uninjured, she took a year off to rebuild her courage and has ridden nonstop since then. During 11th grade, she started competing heavily, taking three lessons a day for several hours a day with the International Riding Academy.

Then, when she started school at Emory University, she took a brief break, but soon felt like something was missing. She joined the Emory Equestrian team, eventually becoming club president her senior year. After she graduated, it didn’t feel right to leave her team and everyone at Chastain Horse Park behind, so she returned as an advisor to the team. Now, she attends the team’s horse shows, helps to warm up and take care of the horses, and gives advice to the riders as they prep for competition.


To Molly, horses are humbling and centering. “They can put you in the dirt in a second if they want to. If nothing else can be constant in my life, horses will always be there,” she says.   

And so will her team. At the last horse show of her senior year, she found out she got the job she’d been coveting at Urjanet. Her team surprised her with a cookie cake to celebrate. Since then, she’s valued having both the Emory and Urjanet teams in her life, and she plans to be there for them as often as they’ve been there for her. “A lot of people in this sport tend to graduate, stop riding, come back a couple decades later and fall in love with it all over again. But I’ll never fall out of love with it. However I can, I want to keep riding. I don’t know who I would be if I weren’t a horseback rider,” Molly says.

To learn more about the Emory Equestrian team, visit their website. Interested in joining the Urjanet team? Visit our Careers page.

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About Amy Hou

Amy Hou is a Marketing Manager at Urjanet, overseeing content and communications. She enjoys writing about the latest industry updates in sustainability, energy efficiency, and data innovation.

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