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

Prior to HBS, I spent six years in the oil and gas industry working primarily on taking technologies in the energy space from the lab to the field. Being exposed to the full lifecycle of a tough-tech innovation early in my career shaped my view of climate change and the energy transition because it showed me that technology alone isn’t enough and that several stars must align to make real impact. It is critical to consider the business model, strategy, operations, and most importantly, the human capital, in order to create a viable business out of any toughtech idea. In a way, that was a catalyst for me to think about what was going on outside the walls of the corporate environment I occupied. Coming from the oil and gas space, it's easy to get tunnel vision about the future. However, my role was highly external facing and as I interacted more with startups, investors, national labs, and universities, it became clear that there's much more going on outside. In order to be an active participant in this community, it was important for me to lean out, which catalyzed my decision to apply to business school and to come to HBS, specifically to be in Boston.

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

Simply talking to people from different backgrounds and having open dialogues about this problem and what needs to be done to solve it has been a huge source of information and inspiration for me. Talking with professors like George Serafeim, Mike Toffel and Jim Matheson excites and inspires me because they've seen this space evolve and have a good perspective that can change how you think. Professor Serafeim’s class last semester provided a great opportunity to learn about the the role that finance can play in accelerating our response to climate change. Those conversations in the classroom setting and outside were critical in shaping my own view of what the role of businesses is in solving this problem. My classmates have been a big source of ideas and inspiration, you meet such a broad spectrum of people at HBS - accountants, investors, lawyers, strategists – that you cannot help but wonder about the impact we could have as a community if we can bring these skills to bear on the climate challenge. For me, that was humbling because you rarely find endeavors where you need to mobilize such diverse talent at a global scale and climate change is one of those challenges.

In terms of internal HBS resources, connecting with career coaches at CPD, especially those in the energy and environment space like Phillip Andrews, are helpful as you think through career prospects. As you talk to your peers and your professors, your career goals start shifting and it's always good to have a neutral third party who can help you refine and validate your hypothesis about your career. There's so much going on in the space that it's very easy to lose track of what is relevant and BEI does a great job of bringing together the right set of content and community to keep the momentum going, and that has been a big source of knowledge, content, and inspiration.

The external connections I was able to build while I was here have helped me gain knowledge and understanding about how certain industries work. For example, I work with The Engine and that connection opened my eyes to how the world of tough tech venture capital works. The community of climate founders that Boston offers has been an amazing source of insights. I have found that having the willingness to reach out and learn from folks who have a very different background from mine has unlocked unexpected opportunities for growth and learning.

You were elected to be the HBS Student Association VP of Sustainability from 2021-2022. What are the goals of this role? What do you hope to achieve as the SAVP of Sustainability?

This is a fairly new role, but this all started from the notion that sustainability is important not just for us to advocate on the outside, but also practice on campus. When I talked about this role with the Chief Community Officer, I realized that there's an angle to mobilizing this community towards climate change and making them think about how they can contribute to addressing this crisis. I've been focused on how to catalyze all the different skill sets and points of view that you have in this rich HBS community and how do you get them sailing in the same direction. That's one part of the job that I’ve enjoyed quite a bit, which is reinforcing the message that climate change is something that spans the entire economy, which means everyone gets affected by it and everyone has a role to play in it.

A common question from MBAs is how to decide what type of company to pursue- whether an early stage start up, a medium size company, or a large corporation. You have extensive experience working at a large corporation, ExxonMobil, and helping them navigate the energy transition. Can you tell us about what it’s like to help a large corporation make more sustainable choices? What are the challenges that you've faced? What has been surprising?

That's a very common tension and I prefer not to think about this as an ‘either-or’ type of decision but rather as two ends of a spectrum, both of which are critical as we navigate the climate challenge. In addition to the magnitude, we need business leaders to really start thinking about the timing of emissions as well, and that is where both big corporations and startups become important pieces of the puzzle.

We absolutely need to reduce emissions today as emissions mitigated today are worth more than emissions mitigated in the future. From that point of view, I found that if you can convince a large corporation, which is a big polluter, to start cutting emissions today then you'd have done a big service to humanity and to the shareholders of the company. At the same time, as we transition away from dirty energy sources, we need new technologies and solutions, which is where the startups come in. The problem with startups is that sometimes don't have the necessary skills or resources and the problem with big companies, who may have access to these resources, is that they often don't have the solutions and can be resistant to change. When I think about my career, I want to figure out a way for these entities to work effectively with each other, where you bring the resources and execution capabilities of big companies to accelerate the path to scale for the solutions that startups are developing. On the path to net zero, both parties have to converge and you need minds in the middle that can make that connection happen, someone who can connect those two ends can add a lot of value and can accelerate climate solutions.

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

In the short term, I’m committed to helping big companies decarbonize because we desperately need them to move today. Long term, I want to use my skills and experience to reduce the friction that tough-tech ideas face on their path to scale and bring new technologies to the world, both as an investor and operator.

I’m a technologist at heart, but if there's one realization that has stayed with me it's that solving the technology problem is just the beginning of the journey for businesses in the climate space. That journey involves convincing customers, investors, and governments to adopt these solutions and take them to a global scale. If I can occupy those three circles and enable symbiotic collaborations between them then I would have done a big service to mankind, so that's my ultimate ambition.

On a bit of a personal note, my wife and I have committed ourselves to mitigating 10 billion tons of carbon in our lifetime. It may sound like an absolutely audacious goal, and maybe we won't meet it, but it gives us a mission to chase every day. We feel fortunate for the opportunity to use our skills towards a mission that can have a truly lasting impact not just on the life of our 4-year-old daughter but also on the trajectory of the entire human race.