Earthwise congratulates Christopher Olson, CWT

Chris accepts his commerative plaque at the AWT Convention in Palm Springs, CA in September 2019

Earthwise welcomes another Certified Water Technologist to its ranks this year! Christopher Olson, Director of Operations, completed his exam and met all criteria for certification over the summer.

The Association of Water Technologies is a water treatment industry group that offers education and support for water treatment professionals, and Chris has received the highest honor available to those in our industry, the CWT.  To become a CWT, a water treatment professional must have worked in the industry for 5 years, pass a rigorous exam and receive positive reviews from their peers.

Chris came to Earthwise in July 2017 as a Senior Account Manager for the Central Illinois region.  His experience in water treatment, management and business was quickly recognized and he became the Earthwise Director of Operations in November of 2018.  Chris’s professionalism and character has brought a lot to Earthwise, and his commitment to excellence is integral to the growth of Earthwise professionals.

We recently sat down with Chris to get his thoughts on the CWT, work and family life.

EW: Congratulations, Chris! We’re proud to have you join the ranks of CWT’s at Earthwise. What made you want to become a CWT?

CO: I always strive to be the best at whatever I do. I also wanted to validate that my knowledge and approach to water treatment was in line with the industry standard.

EW: What was the process like for you?

CO: Prior to joining Earthwise I didn’t know much about the AWT. I knew of the association and the CWT designation, but really didn’t know what either one involved. Once an Earthwise employee, I was signed up as an AWT member. When I received my membership I began exploring the training and resources online. Shortly after onboarding, the leadership team at Earthwise suggested that as part of my career path I become a CWT. I began looking into the process and requirements. I felt that my experience in the water treatment industry, and mentorship under Henry Becker, were good starts to qualifying for the certification. The only missing piece was a clear understanding of the AWT and their training approach.

I attended my first AWT Technical Training seminar in March of 2018. It was great experience and further catalyzed my interest in the CWT accreditation. I binge listened to the Scaling up H20 podcast on my seven-hour drive back from the AWT training. One of the episodes suggested that the best way to fit the exam into your schedule was to pick a date and schedule it. I ignored the advice for the next year. In March of 2019 I made it a goal to take the CWT quizzes online and schedule the exam for late July. The next four months went very quickly; but I was able to take most of the practice quizzes online, a mock exam, and read the AWT Technical Reference Manual front to back.

When test day came I was nervous and confident at the same time. All the studying paid off and I was able to pass the exam. The next day I started delivering the reference forms to my peers and supervisors. I explained why I was beseeching their references and that I had just passed the CWT exam (I was still pretty excited). They were all very supportive and the reference letters were all returned to the AWT within a couple weeks. Thanks to Angela Pike, my paperwork flowed through the AWT quickly and I was able to attend the Annual Conference in Palm Springs as a CWT. I am grateful to Earthwise and everyone that helped support me through the process. The CWT designation means a lot to me and I will work hard to represent the certification well.

EW: Our readers want to know more about you, tell us about your family life.

CO: I live in Central Illinois and have a beautiful wife Abby who labors selflessly to care for our four children and home. Our daughters are Elle 8, Esther 5, Emilia and Eleanor 10 months. As a family we enjoy bike rides, walks around our neighborhood with our dog Arlo, and spending time with each other to share experiences and laughter. 

Abby was an elementary teacher prior to a challenging pregnancy with our first daughter Elle. At that point, she decided to forego her career and focus full time on our growing family. I am grateful to Abby for this commitment and taking on the enormous challenge. Elle and Esther are truly blessings; they love gymnastics, art, and playing together. The twins are also miracles and have brought a whole new dynamic to our family. 

Outside of spending time with my family I enjoy problem solving, helping others, carpentry, exercising, hunting, and power-sports.

EW: You have a young family, which means more than one important job. How did you manage your role as Dad, Director of Operations and study time?

CO: Well, like most parents, my available time is limited for things outside of my family and career. I utilize every free minute to do something productive. When preparing for the exam I would study before dinner or bed and on the weekends. My oldest daughters may be future water treaters because they “helped” me study many nights and weekends. Like most water treaters I am always working. I feel like balance is more of an attitude than a mathematical division of time. If I end up with an unexpected 15 minutes because an appointment was delayed, I’ll call Abby and see how things are going. Vice versa, if I am at home and my family is busy or just do not need my involvement for 15 minutes, I’ll catch up on emails, reports, etc. 

EW: What do you love about being a water treater?

CO: Being a water treater has provided the opportunity to apply my education and solve problems. It has also allowed me to build relationships with clients and water treatment professionals that are now friends. It has allowed me to visit places and see many processes that I would have never been exposed to otherwise. My career advancement and income are 100% dependent on how much effort I am willing to invest.

EW: Lastly, any advice for up and coming water treaters you’d like to share?

CO: Find a good mentor, always be learning, always stay humble and kind; hold on for the ride! Make sure you have a passion for water treatment and/or helping others. Water Treatment is a very busy and challenging profession. It takes resilience and an opportunistic attitude to succeed. It is definitely a lifestyle, and like everything in life, with great effort comes great reward!