Tell us a little about what you were doing before HBS and what brought you to HBS.

Before applying to HBS, I was working at NextEra Energy, which is a large renewable energy company. I started on the renewable development team after I graduated from UNC. As part of that group, my role was to manage our wind, solar, and battery storage development efforts in a few different regions. I got a lot of really amazing experience from an operator perspective, and I learned about how renewable energy projects are built and all of the different pieces that go into that. One of my favorite parts of the process was the financing of projects. I wanted to learn more about that aspect, so I decided to apply to business school because I thought there would be no better place to learn about it. I decided to come to HBS and there have been so many great resources here to support my growth.

What HBS resources have been most helpful to you in exploring your career options?

There are so many different resources at HBS, from the faculty and classes to fellow students, CPD, and BEI. From the beginning of my RC year, I got involved in Energy and Environment Club where I helped plan the annual conference. Through those planning efforts, I met alumni and practitioners working in different businesses in the clean tech space. One of the most valuable resources are the other students that I met. A lot of the job and internship opportunities I got through those student connections. In my first year, I was also a Student Sustainability Associate, which connected me with like-minded individuals who are interested in sustainability on campus. Through my time as an SSA and as a Club leader, I built up my relationship with fellow students and BEI. The BEI is the first place I went to when I had a question about where to find a resource, what alumni are interested in, or what companies are interested in partnering with students.

One other valuable resource is CPD. Philip Andrews was always willing to answer all of my questions and he pointed me in the right direction and helped me talk through my options. I also didn’t realize how dialed into the climate space HBS is until I got here. There are opportunities in your RC year to talk about energy cases and almost half of my classes in my second year are, in some way, sustainability or energy focused. I would encourage students to map out which classes they can take since there are so many options.

A common question from MBAs is how to decide what type of company or role to pursue. You have extensive experience working in a variety of roles at different companies, from startups to VCs and even sustainable investing. Can you tell us about what it’s like to work in these different roles or companies? What was challenging, surprising, or enjoyable?

The short answer to what type of company or role to pursue is try everything. HBS is probably the only time in your life that you're going to be able to try a so many different options with minimal risk involved. Use the time to pressure test different types of roles to get a sense of what the day to day is like. I started out at a startup and I realized that that wasn't necessarily for me. It was very entrepreneurial, you have to wear a lot of hats, and I think coming from a fortune 500 company was a big transition. Over the summer, I worked at BlackRock and really enjoyed the culture and work atmosphere. The summer internship is a great opportunity to get a sense of what role would look like full time. When I tried out venture capital through my internship at Clean Energy Ventures, I really liked it, too. While my advice still stands to try everything, sometimes you end up with the best problem where you can't pick because you have too many good options. In that case, it’s important to think about how your internships fit into your short- and long-term career goals.

You also spend time as a Student Career Advisor through the Career and Professional Development office. What are some common questions or pieces of advice that you have for students exploring career options in the energy and environment space?

This is a low-risk time to try a lot of different things, so don't limit yourself. If you think you want to go into a startup then try it, but try VC too. It's great to utilize the in-semester internship time if you think you can manage it because you will get experience in a brand new area that you wouldn't be able to otherwise, and many startups or VCs are flexible with how many hours a week you can work. Another piece of advice that I give students is don't necessarily go for the safe option. A lot of students come to me with the concern that they can't switch into investing with no investing experience. For context, I have no investing experience but the job I’m going into after graduation is private equity for renewables. You can make the switch; it's entirely possible. I know plenty of people who have done it not only in energy but in other sectors. You just have to put in the work, cast a wide net, and prove out your skill set and your value add to the company. Another thing that I tell students is that HBS has arguably the most powerful alumni network in the world, you should take advantage of it as much as you possibly can. The way that I approached my internship search was by creating a list of target companies and then searching LinkedIn for HBS alumni that either work or worked at those companies. I found that my success rate was high in terms of responses.

How do plan to use your career and experience at HBS to help create a more sustainable world?

That’s been one of the biggest things that I’ve explored in my time at HBS: figuring out exactly what career path that I want to take to have the biggest impact. I built up the operator experience, so now I want to get some investment experience. I will take what I learned at HBS into the investing world to figure out how to deploy capital at a large scale to accelerate the adoption of sustainable technologies. What I envision right now in the long term is, after I’ve built up my investing experience at BlackRock, I pivot into the world of VC by either starting my own fund or joining a fund dedicated to climate tech investments. One thing I know is that climate tech is where I want to spend my career. I’m lucky to have found my passion so early and I’m even luckier that HBS has provided me with the technical skills, networking skills, and the resources to propel my career and hopefully be successful in creating more sustainable world.

Any last words of advice?

This is advice to incoming students or current students: don't think that just because you didn't come from climate tech or the energy industry that you can't transition into it. This is a global problem that will require a global effort and we need more people on this problem than we have now, so if you're passionate about it, make the switch and don't think that your prior experience will hold you back whatsoever.