Agents of Impact | July 26, 2019

Follow the Talent: ImpactAlpha’s ‘Agents of Impact’ Special Report for July 26

Dennis Price
ImpactAlpha Editor

Dennis Price

Greetings, Agents of Impact!

Welcome to ImpactAlpha’s weekly “follow the talent” roundup of impact investing career moves, job openings, events and opportunities. Help the growing ImpactAlpha community follow your talent: Send job moves, mandates, event announcements and other news to [email protected].

– Dennis Price, editorial director

Agent of Impact 

Erik Schiemann, Distributed Solar Development. Disrupt or be disrupted. One of the few bright spots in GE’s story of value destruction is the spinout of the company’s unit that designs, builds and operates distributed solar and energy storage solutions for commercial customers. The new firm, Distributed Solar Development, will be owned 20% by GE and 80% by a renewable energy fund managed by BlackRock. Schiemann, a longtime GE executive, faced a classic “innovator’s dilemma” in nurturing GE Solar within the corporate giant since 2012 (the concept, popularized by Harvard’s Clayton Christensen, tries to explain why even successful legacy companies often lose market leadership to disruptive technologies and nimble startups). Distributed Solar used products not made by GE and brought its parent company no big customer service contracts. Some GE executives considered distributed solar power a threat to the company’s traditional power business. “There was a lot of debate about what I was doing,” Schiemann says. “I argued that if we don’t try to disrupt our own business, someone else will.”

The case study should inspire other sustainability intrapreneurs trying to “infect the host” at large legacy companies. Solar was a tiny part of GE’s renewable energy business, compared to wind and hydro. As head of a standalone company, Schiemann says he’ll get lower-cost capital, lower transaction costs, quicker execution and the ability to own some of the projects he develops. Customers, he says, get one throat to choke. Distributed Solar plans to quadruple its own annual project pipeline, to 400 megawatts, in five years. BlackRock, which already has invested $5 billion in more than 250 solar and wind projects totaling 5.2 gigawatts of capacity, will get deeper access to “the tremendous growth potential in the U.S. solar industry,” BlackRock’s David Giordano said in a statement. Follow ImpactAlpha on Instagram.

Seize the Opportunity

ImpactAlpha is hiring: Director of Growth. Subscription revenues from passionate Agents of Impact have pushed ImpactAlpha past a crucial milestone: financial sustainability. Our new Director of Growth will drive subscription marketing to increase conversions and grow recurring revenues so we can serve such agents even better. Join ImpactAlpha’s team (and spread the word)… 

Open Society Foundations is recruiting a principal of gender lens impact investing and a deputy director of impact investing in London… New Energy Nexus is hiring an operations associate for clean energy investing in Opportunity Zones… Opportunity Finance Network is hiring an investment associate and an online community coordinator in Washington DC… The Bertha Centre at the University of Cape Town is looking for a director of the centre and a senior project manager of innovative finance… 

Bolsa Social is looking for an investment director in Madrid… Unreasonable is recruiting a venture selection associate and global programs producer in Boulder, London or New York… ImpactAssets is hiring a senior associate of custom investments… Duke University’s Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship seeks a writer and marketing coordinator.

Follow the Talent

Beeck Center’s Sonal Shah joins the presidential campaign of Pete Buttigieg as national policy director. Nate Wong, managing director of Georgetown’s Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation, becomes interim executive director during Shah’s leave of absence… Dean Segall, ex-of Convergence, says he has joined Canadian insurance company Sun Life as a director in its sustainability team… 

UK’s Impact Investing Institute names Sara Gorden, ex- of the Financial Times, as its first CEO… David Chapman, previously with Shoosmiths, joins Palatine Private Equity as business development manager for its buy-out and impact funds… Saadia Madsbjerg steps down as head of innovative finance at Rockefeller Foundation and Lorenzo Bernasconi steps in as the program’s interim head.

Apply, Respond, Submit 

Applications are open for the Singapore-based agri-foodtech accelerator GROW (from AgFunder and Rocket Seeder). 

Where to be

Open sessions’ at SOCAP19 include “Cooperatives as a Catalyst for Empowerment and Racial Equity”, “The State of Alternative Ownership and Finance in US” and “Scaling Impact and Resilience in Emerging Markets via Local Funds.” ImpactAlpha subscribers can register with code MP_ImpactAlpha to get $250 off.

That’s a wrap! Help the growing ImpactAlpha community follow your talent: Send your own job moves, new opportunities and event announcements to [email protected].