Nicole Harvey – Dragonfly Energy Corp.
Having served Dragonfly Energy Corp., as outside counsel, Nicole Harvey understood much about this ambitious Nevada company that’s striving to make its lithium-ion batteries a game-changer on the renewables and sustainability fronts.
Only she had much to learn about her soon-to-be employer in the summer of 2021. That’s when President and CEO Denis Phares told Harvey, “it’s time for us to hire a general counsel” and she innocently wondered whether there would be enough work for her to be a full-timer.
“Since the first day, I’ve been eating those words,” she tells Vanguard this past autumn after celebrating a very busy first anniversary as chief legal and compliance officer and corporate secretary. “It’s been the busiest and most exciting year of my legal career.”
Not only did she join Dragonfly at a pivotal moment, she says the pivots keep on coming. So where to start?
Maybe with Harvey helping ready the company to go public before she was hired. She did it through a SPAC merger with an already-listed capital markets group, Chardan NexTech Acquisition 2 Corp., which spared Dragonfly from the traditional and longer process of an initial public offering.
On Oct. 7, 2022, just short of one year after her hiring, Harvey joined other executives on Wall Street for the ringing of the Nasdaq bell. That’s when Harvey says it really sunk in.
“Although I was coordinating the legal work, there were lots of chefs in that kitchen,” she says, lauding the outside firms that fine-tuned the financing, due diligence, regulatory compliance and what-not. “It was a lot to manage and a very special experience, interacting with world-class attorneys on such an expansive project … as I told Denis, ‘I guess you really did need someone full-time.’”
No longer alone
Harvey’s load has since been lightened by an associate general counsel, Steven Friskel, who acquits himself on non-disclosures, contracts and more. He’s freed Harvey to focus on other matters, and high on her list has been corporate governance.
Pre-Nasdaq, the company got by with just three board members but now has seven whom, along with shareholders, must be kept appraised of Dragonfly’s status. There’s much more to communicate in-house, as well as adhering to the rules of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Contracting’s become more complex with vendors subject to extra vetting and intellectual properties a growing concern as patent applications accumulate.
“As we grow, it’s a matter of scaling these processes that already work,” Harvey says from Reno headquarters. “It’s nailing down the fundamentals and ensuring that everything internally runs like a clock. We’ve successfully taken the company public and now the next leg of our journey begins.”
They’re in the right place to do so, Harvey explaining that subterranean Nevada teems with lithium, which Dragonfly plans to fashion into sustainable batteries much in demand from industrial clientele. Dragonfly’s current offerings include Battle Born Batteries and Wakespeed, which use imported cells. How these lines will be augmented once Dragonfly manufactures its own solid-state cells with domestic lithium.
Those wildfires that rage annually in the Southwest—Harvey reminds that some have been traced to sparks falling from utility poles onto dry grass and how a Dragonfly solid-state battery wouldn’t carry that risk. Whereas energy storage at wind and solar farms now is limited, it could be enhanced through the higher capacity offered by lithium technology.
Dragonfly also has uses for off-grid and back-up power, marine vessels, commercial trucks and RV and overland vehicles.
“No matter what I do, I become an expert in something new,” Harvey says. “Now it’s batteries.”
She means business
Long before acquiring this battery expertise, Harvey practiced the transactional law that’s essential to this position. A 2005 University of Nevada, Reno, undergrad who earned her juris doctorate three years later at Arizona State University College of Law, she honed her skills as a private attorney and in-house.
Time was when Harvey could have gone in another direction. Trial law appealed during her student days, and she excelled in moot court. She attributes her mastery of civil procedures and ability to stay cool to her well-roundedness as an attorney.
And maybe it was her being a family-oriented fourth-generation Nevadan that factored in her interest in estate law. In 2015 she applied a humorous touch to that subject in an easy-to-read book entitled, “I Hope You Die Laughing: A Beginner’s Guide to Estate Planning.”
Whatever area of law, she notes it often comes down to solving or, better yet, avoiding problems, and that’s certainly much of her current role.
Life was busy before Dragonfly with Harvey running a boutique firm as well as being general counsel and director of compliance and risk at Northern Nevada HOPES, a Reno community health center whose patients include the indigent. In-house law held much appeal, Harvey having also done stretches with Harley-Davidson Financial Services and CORIX Group of Companies from 2016 to 2019.
Dragonfly’s been the ideal fit, says this married mother of three schoolchildren. Demanding as the role is, it frees her from racking up billable hours and provides enough off-hours for Harvey to pursue outside interests such as enjoying the outdoors and restoring her 1974 Harley.
“I feel like I’m working for a company that will save the world,” Harvey says. “It’s never been hard for me to identify with my client’s mission, especially now.”
View this feature in the Vanguard Winter IV 2023 Edition here.
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