Jeff Ansley Builds a Soaring Solar Career

Jeff Ansley embarked on his planet-saving career in 1993 in East Africa, where he installed remote photovoltaic systems and taught residents how to install and service solar equipment. Today he is president of Natron Resources Inc., a Moraga, Calif.–based solar system design and engineering company he founded while a student in the Bay Area MBA program. Natron Resources is dedicated to making solar energy economically feasible for its residential and business clients.

Ansley collaborates with other GSM alumni in Greenlight Apparel, which offers sustainably produced, sweatshop-free clothing for corporations, small business owners and individuals, and Aclarity Systems. In his spare time he enjoys whitewater rafting, sea kayaking and bragging about his battery-powered Chevy Bolt.

What drives you in your work?

I am inspired by being part of a global movement that is reducing the cost of renewable energy to grid parity, and am helping the U.S. reduce its dependence on electricity from coal and other polluting sources.

Where has your career taken you, and where is it headed?

I am hoping to grow my business to approximately 30 employees and then sell it during this wave of consolidation as the solar industry matures.

How has your UC Davis MBA experience helped shape your success?

My Davis experience helped give me the confidence and the skills to go out on my own. It filled a number of gaps in my understanding in finance and management that have helped me reduce the number of mistakes made during the early days of my company. I am also involved in two other ventures—Greenlight Apparel and Aclarity, both founded with other GSM alumni—which is very gratifying and exciting. I have also gained clients through other alumni whom I found through the network, which was great for my bottom line.

What is the most significant thing that’s happened to you since graduating?

Many people told me that my idea for my company would never work, but with grit; support from friends, family and colleagues; and the skills I acquired at UC Davis, it’s working and getting better every day.

Your favorite Graduate School of Management memory? 

Making the finals for the Global Social Venture Competition with the business concept that turned into Greenlight Apparel and continues today.

Anything else you’d like the gsm community to know about you?

Even my MBA studies didn’t prepare me for my favorite question from my six-year old daughter: “Daddy, when you’re the boss does that mean you get to keep all the money?”

How do you support and participate in the School now?

I attend as many social events as I can—and I make an annual pledge to the Working Professional Endowment Fund (a portion of the GSM Annual Fund).