When he thinks about leading and motivating his team, Knox Cameron, manager, Renewable Energy Sales, draws on lessons from his childhood and his previous career as a professional soccer player with the Columbus Crew. When presented with a task or problem, he asks himself, what would I do on the soccer field? Knox believes playing soccer at a high level gave him an understanding of team dynamics and competition, both of which are directly transferable to his role at DTE.
“I reflect a lot on how I impact teams as an individual,” said Knox. “I’m excited about competing and that’s what I bring to the professional world. I show up every day ready to compete, and right now I’m competing for DTE.”
Born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica, Knox said where he lived, kids had two choices – play sports or get into trouble. Strongly influenced by his dad and uncles, who played soccer at a high level, Knox learned the game. He began dedicating all his time and energy to soccer, practicing for 10 to 15 hours out of each day. Those around him quickly realized Knox had an exceptional talent.
When he was eight years old, Knox’s family moved to the Bronx in New York City. He continued to play soccer throughout his childhood and into high school, where he became a member of the Under-18 Men’s National Team, making him a key recruit for colleges across the U.S.
But Knox’s high school career wasn’t without its challenges. At the time, he was still working to obtain his U.S. citizenship. And the two-mile walk between his home and the Catholic high school he attended required carefully navigating one of New York City’s most dangerous neighborhoods.
Knox, undeterred by all obstacles, went on to play college soccer at the University of Michigan, followed by a professional soccer career with the Columbus Crew. It was from there he became a DTE employee. But he didn’t lose sight of where he came from or the lessons he learned along the way.
“To say ‘humble beginnings’ is quite an understatement,” said Knox. “My past has grounded me, and in order to grow from that I’ve had a ton of support along the way. That support has been critical and has given me a unique perspective that has supported my professional career in terms of being dependable for others. I take pride in that.”
Lessons in Leadership
Knox has been with DTE for more than 11 years, starting out as an account manager in 2008. He then spent time in various roles across the company, each serving as a rewarding learning experience and positioning him well for his current role. After leaving DTE briefly, Knox returned in 2019 to lead the MIGreenPower sales team. In this position, he gets motivation from engaging with customers, solving problems, and strategizing for optimal outcomes.
Knox’s passion and dedication hasn’t gone unnoticed. Last year, he was recognized as one of the Michigan Chronicle 40 Under 40 honorees, nominated by Brian Calka, director, Renewable Energy Solutions. The recognition came as a surprise for Knox, whose life has changed significantly since his days as a soccer star chasing accolades. He realized these awards are out there even when you’re not focused on them.
“When I was playing soccer, admittedly one of the things that motivated me was getting recognized for my talents,” said Knox. “But the awards I chased were all momentary in time. As I grew and focused more on team goals, I didn’t do the work for the accolade anymore. Making an impact, collaborating with people, inspiring people – that’s what’s important to me now.”