Nagaraju Bandaru is CTO for Mosaic, a leading financing platform for U.S. residential solar and energy-efficient home improvements.
With the passing of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the U.S. government is expecting a boom in clean energy jobs. And according to a recent survey conducted by Mosaic, 75% of American adults said they would consider a job in clean energy.
While it’s true that sustainable infrastructure initiatives like the IRA are contributing to the growth of this industry, since becoming the CTO of clean energy fintech, I have experienced a much deeper appeal that clean tech jobs hold. This new perspective has changed the way I think about work, so I wanted to share the top five things I have learned since moving into clean tech.
1. Work With Joy
According to the old cliche, if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. But I would take that a step further and recommend that if you do work you believe in, the love will follow. People who work in clean tech are often there because of a shared mission to help the environment. That unifying force has positive effects that reach through entire companies. In addition, those drawn to a greater cause tend to be empathetic and supportive team members. The resulting work culture can be very rewarding.
However, you also have to be mindful of the double-edged sword of working with joy—working too much (in this case, out of passion rather than external pressures). Part of the culture of working with joy means protecting it by setting boundaries and helping each other be aware of work-life balance. Protecting that culture also means feeling comfortable with disagreeing, allowing for a free exchange of ideas that encourages stretching the boundaries of creativity and innovation.
2. A Problem Solver’s Playground
Clean tech offers rewarding opportunities for those who are energized by finding strategic solutions to complex problems. Climate change is an existential challenge that affects all of us, and the magnitude of the problem requires one to think of successful outcomes at a micro level and then figure out how to scale that to the global level.
For example, given the various sustainability incentives at the state and federal levels and the wide variation in pricing structure across utility companies, it is very hard for homeowners to determine what products are right for them and how they can benefit from all the available incentives. This is a multi-dimensional fragmentation, segmentation, economic and customer experience problem. If you are a data engineer, the challenges of aggregating structured data from a myriad of sources can be intellectually stimulating. If you’re a data scientist or a risk modeler, the insights from consumer behavior with changing economic circumstances give you the opportunity to interact with senior executives and influence company-level strategies.
3. Diverse Perspectives Come Together
The shared mission and industry potential of clean tech are drawing many recruits from across industries. This has created a melting pot of different perspectives and fresh ideas. So while the clean energy industry ecosystem has its own unique considerations, it also benefits from the experience and thought leadership of other adjacent industry professionals and technologists. The technology to streamline customer acquisition, supplier integrations, and borrower experience is evolving fast, but there remain plenty of opportunities to incorporate from other adjacent industries to help shape clean tech’s maturation. This receptiveness to outside ideas has allowed me to feel that I’m making a genuine contribution to an industry that is new to me, in addition to offering a stimulating environment in which to exchange ideas and grow.
4. Make An Impact
While clean tech is an established industry, the many recent sustainability initiatives and increased focus on renewable energy in general has lent it all the excitement and anticipation of a rapidly growing new sector.
Anyone who has worked for a startup or in an emerging industry can tell you it has a certain charge and unique rewards. Clean tech is no different. No matter where you are in a clean tech organization, you’ll probably have plenty of opportunities to put on your entrepreneurial hat. That means rolling up your sleeves and pitching in where needed. It also means being able to see the impact of your efforts, making a tangible contribution to the company as it grows and the industry matures. Feeling that your day-to-day work matters is essential to being content with your job.
Right now is an exciting time for clean tech, but there might be some tradeoffs that come with the territory, at least for the time being. Job satisfaction isn’t just about total compensation but the whole picture of what we get from our work. In addition, many of my peers in the space believe that getting in with this growth market early can set you up for greater success down the road. A possible step down on the ladder could be a fantastic long-term strategy, given the massive opportunity ahead. Just as the internet birthed a wide range of new careers, so too will clean tech as the green economy becomes firmly established.
5. The Secret To A Good Night’s Sleep
In the course of my career, I’ve held rewarding jobs at companies ranging from startups to large public enterprises and have learned something new with each position. But it wasn’t until moving into clean tech that I discovered the key to getting a good night’s sleep. A job in clean tech means working with joy every day and being able to go to bed every night feeling content that I’m doing something good for the environment and the world.
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