How to Plug into Sustainable Energy
Three alumni share insights into an industry dominated by California policy and innovation
New MBA students got a first-hand account of the disruptions, changes and opportunities in the sustainable energy sector at an industry luncheon during orientation.
In the panel discussion on Sept. 18, three recent MBA alumni working in solar, renewables and the electric grid shared their experiences and insights into how the next class of business students can gain a foothold in this growing arena.
“For an industry that hasn’t changed for a hundred years, it’s now going through lots of changes very rapidly,” said Matt Barnes MBA 13, the chief financial officer and a board member for the consulting group GridSME. “Here in California, you have our 100 percent renewables goal for 2045 and every home built in 2020 will have solar panels on it.”
Charles Anderson MBA 11, founder and CEO of Anderson Pine, a renewables consulting firm, said when he switched over to working in solar energy it was “a breath of fresh air in that it was so diverse.” The people he worked held a sweeping range of backgrounds, educations and professions.
“I felt old at the time because it was such a young and dynamic space to work in,” he said.
He found it energizing on many levels.
Getting out of the office to collaborate with clients is one of the best parts of the job for Alex Crown MBA 18, a project developer at REC Solar.
“For an industry that hasn’t changed for a hundred years, it’s now going through lots of changes very rapidly.”
“I’ll be meeting with a semiconductor company in the morning and in the afternoon I’ll find myself on a 2,000-cow dairy operation,” he said. “It’s a constant learning environment.”
The energy experts gave the incoming students a glimpse into the Sustainable Energy Industry Immersion, which will be held for its second year in the coming winter quarter. It’s one of four Industry Immersion elective courses, which also include Food and Agriculture, Biotechnology and Technology Finance—each tapping UC Davis’ global research leadership and corporate network.
In the immersions, senior executives from leading companies present live cases each week and students team up to develop solutions during the day.