Driving the Energy Efficient Data Center

Li EDF Climate Corps

Louis Li, MBA 14, gained insights on the ROI of going green, thanks to a summer internship at Verizon as part of the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF)’s Climate Corps. Climate Corps dispatches students to corporate clients as energy problem solvers and shared this interview with Li on the EDF Climate Corps Blog:

Name: Louis Li

Hometown: Hong Kong

School: Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley

Host Organization: Verizon

Q: What is one interesting fact about you that might surprise people?

A: In the past seven years, I have worked and lived in several very different places. I have worked in Hong Kong, Beijing, Bangladesh and currently reside in the United States. I am currently attending school in California, and spending the summer working for Verizon in New Jersey.

Q: Why did you want to join EDF Climate Corps?

A: I am very interested in the intersection of the environment, business and technology. EDF Climate Corps links my three interests together, providing insight into the business case for energy efficiency. Also, investing in energy efficiency is one way to have a great environmental impact. In terms of professional development, EDF Climate Corps is a great program that provides training, and places fellows with companies and organizations where we can make a meaningful impact.

Q: What did you work on this summer?

A: I have primarily focused on energy efficiency opportunities at data centers. I am also involved in a solar energy and fuel cells project, which will help provide power to roughly 20 Verizon facilities across the United States.

Q: What is the most difficult part about tackling the energy efficient data center project in your opinion?

A: One of the most difficult parts is finding the best way to fast track a project. I think that people want sustainability improvements, but they also have many other priorities.

Q: Have you found ways to overcome this?

A: I think it is very important to have an internal champion for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. My supervisor, Alan Scott, is quick to make new connections with key stakeholders within the business who can also help drive results. Second, I must be thoughtful when I shape the project scope and identify what my priorities are in order to execute in a timely manner. I also must consider other people’s time and make sure I focus on high value projects. And in order to attain approval for moving a project forward, we must reveal the project’s value to our customers and the business.

Q: What is one thing you have learned this summer?

A: I have learned a tremendous amount about energy efficiency, especially in regards to data centers. I also gained a tremendous amount of experience in understanding the return on investment of going green. And in my conversations with Verizon’s IT team, I have learned much about real world applications and strategies for success.

Q: What have you learned from your supervisor, Alan?

A: I have learned a lot just by looking to Alan as a mentor. Alan is always meeting new people and networking in a large organization to help solve challenging problems. He is continuously working to improve the sustainability of the business, and keeps customers at the forefront of what is important. Alan knows how to quickly explain what he is trying to accomplish and how to achieve results.

Q: What is the best part of working at Verizon?

A: Sustainability is embedded in the culture here at Verizon. The company has a dedicated sustainability team overseeing many different green initiatives, from clean energy to paper reduction. They work hard to provide powerful solutions for real-world issues. There are also more than 12,000 employees that are part of Verizon’s “Green Team,” which practices and promotes “working green and living green,” so it is energizing to be around so many people who share my values.

Q: What is the mark you want to leave on the world?

A: I want to solve environmental and business problems at the same time. This is the reason I joined an MBA program with a focus on clean energy. It has been inspiring to part of the team here, and I hope to one day inspire others.




Student Energy Innovations Advance in DOE Competition

David Hirsch for FLoW post cropped

Alex Wooten, David Hirsch, and Paul Maa in Shanghai representing their venture, [Temporary Energy]

Berkeley MBA students are on two teams advancing to the regional finals of First Look West (FLoW), a national clean energy business challenge. Their ideas for bringing solar energy into low income homes and more easily finding ways to make buildings energy efficient will go head-to-head with 22 other competitors at USC on May 7.

Tom Spooner, and Jonathan Lim, both MBA  14, are part of BEEMS, an interdisciplinary Berkeley team pitching Building Energy Efficiency Mapping Services. The startup is based on licensing a an indoor mapping technology developed at UC Berkeley and, according to Spooner, “offers a fast, cheap, and effective service to assess energy efficiency opportunities in existing buildings.”

David Hirsch, Paul Maa, and Alex Wooten, all MBA 13, make up [Temporary Energy], focused on “making solar as easy as renting furniture.” With guidance from solar and energy experts at Berkeley and Haas, the team plans to improve access to solar for low income households by removing such barriers to entry as expensive permitting.

Temporary Energy recently became the first team from Berkeley-Haas to participate in China Europe International Business School’s (CEIBS) Innovate China case competition. Participation offered networking with investors, students, and government officials, as well as a visit to a special economic zone outside of Shanghai to learn about incentives for businesses there.

Berkeley-Haas was also well represented in the 2012 FLoW competition, with Will Greene, MBA 13, and his teammate Will Regan, a Berkeley Physics PhD candidate, winning the $40,000 third prize for Xite Solar, which has developed a new class of solar cells that could make solar a major source of energy production.

Just another Wednesday in the Berkeley MBA Program

Guest Blogger Kyle Rudzinski, MBA 14

A Day in the Life at Berkeley-Haas

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At Berkeley-Haas, we’re “overwhelmed by opportunity.” Every day is filled with something new.  Something different. Some way to grow. There’s nothing special about the day chronicled below. Just a another Wednesday in beautiful northern California.

6:00 a.m.     Wake up to “Suit and Tie.” Get the day going right.

6:02 a.m.     Eat a Berkeley breakfast. Yes, it involves granola and fresh, local, organic, non-GMO fruit.

6:24 a.m.     Head to Hearst gym’s rooftop pool. Way behind on training for the Berkeley-Haas swim from Alcatraz in April.

8:00 a.m.     Berkeley breakfast part two. Plug into the world… meaning spending way too much time on Flip Board and Facebook. Check out the day’s calendar.

8:27 a.m.     Watch Khan Academy video on macroeconomics. Finish macro readings. Feel up to speed.

9:18 a.m.      Bike to MBA Lounge. Meet classmates Samantha and Aisha (from Canada). Refine and prepare our macroeconomics presentation.

10:03 a.m.   Scurry to the Bank of America forum to dispense “invaluable” career advice to Paul, an undergrad leader of the Net Impact club.

10:19 a.m.    Remember I had no clue what I wanted to do at 22. Send Paul a follow up email reaffirming he’s headed in the right direction because, well, he has a direction.

10:20 a.m.    Collaborate with Professor Omar Romero-Hernandez and my Tesla Motors consulting team–Shelley and Eileen from the Goldman School of Public Policy, Vu from the graduate Chemical Engineering program, and Bart (from Belgium), a fellow MBA–on our carbon neutrality strategy.

11:09 a.m.    Slip into Strategic Corporate and Social Responsibility class just before it starts. Thankful for “Berkeley Time” (classes start 10 minute after the hour).

11:17 a.m.    Listen to Kellie McElhaney, founder of the Center for Responsible Business, connect sustainability and value creation in branding. A positive message to achieve positive CSR ends.

12:30 p.m.    Chat about my summer internship projects with Alumna Kimberly Petska of Dow.  Feel encouraged that big companies make scalable, positive impacts on the planet–and that I have a summer offer.

12:48 p.m.    Get inspired by Salman Khan at the International House with 400 classmates. The Khan Academy founder shares his dream and results to change education for the better by providing a free world-class education for anyone anywhere.

1:43 p.m.     Pledged to donate to the Haas Social Impact Fund, a fund in which students promise to give 1 day’s summer internship salary to support classmates interning with nonprofits. Received free CREAM* for the pledge. Great trade. * CREAM serves ice cream between two fresh baked, warm cookies. The store on Telegraph Ave has a line around the block all the time.

1:55 p.m.     Review that macroeconomics presentation one more time. Head to class.

3:17 p.m.     Nail the presentation. Sam and Aisha demonstrate unflappable poise. Every day my classmates impress.

4:05 p.m.      Catch up on emails. Hang out with classmates Kate and Richard (from Australia) in Bank of America Forum. Brad (second year MBA) stops by to set up a carpool to drive us to the Design and Innovation Strategy Club’s tour and happy hour at Stanford’s D-School on Friday.

4:37 p.m.     Chris Curtin, Senior Vice President for Marketing Strategy and Innovation at HP regales us with HP’s re-branding strategy and tagline, “Make it Happen.”

5:56 p.m.     Chat with Chris about HP’s sustainability and marketing integration alongside Professor William Pearce (former Chief Marketing Officer at Del Monte and Taco Bell).

6:02 p.m.     Reflect on no more first semester FOMO (fear of missing out) as I’ve found my own groove at Berkeley-Haas. Tonight I’m skipping the Berkeley Energy & Resources Collaborative, Entrepreneurs Association, and Marketing Club happy hours and a presentation at Haas on Social Bond Markets because other opportunities abound.

6:13 p.m.     Head to Berkeley Law with classmates Lindsay and Steffanie to pick up Jan (from Trinidad and Tobago) for dinner.

6:14 p.m.    Tiny puppy on campus briefly derails our journey.

6:17 p.m.     Stop. Breathe. Admire the beautiful sunset over the Bay with the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance. Smile because living the California life is good.

6:29 p.m.     Eat authentic Latin America cuisine at Platano in downtown Berkeley with nine classmates. Plan our itinerary for a Spring Break trek to Cuba. Thank you, Berkeley-Haas independent study opportunity.

8:02 p.m.     Stroll to Haas Pavillion to meet Haasies for the Cal-Stanford basketball game (Go Bears!). It’s the first basketball game for classmates Vivek (from India) and Sandra (from Bulgaria via England). Exciting game.

9:38 p.m.     Brand management teammate Zeke (from Argentina) reminds me I need to finish demand forecasting for our team paper on a pharmaceutical case.

10:58 p.m.    Rush home. Turn in the assignment 2 minutes before deadline.

11:03 p.m.    Receive pearls of wisdom from MBA/MPH roommate Ashlee on the Southwest Airlines and Zara cases for legendary professor Terry Taylor’s operations class.

11:08 p.m.    Briefly catch up with my other roommate, Katie (we’re working on our third degree together after undergrad at University of Virginia and Langley High. Virginia’s well-represented at Haas!) and neighbors Jenn and Sakshi.

12:07 a.m.    Write this blog. Go to bed happy because it’s the people at Haas, my friends and classmates, that make it matter. Plus, tomorrow’s another day.

MBA 12s at Work: Chevron Technology Ventures

Feriante conducts a site inspection in Kona, HI.

Feriante conducts a site inspection in Kona, HI.

Grad: Jarom Feriante, MBA 12

Working as: Business Development Analyst with Chevron Technology Ventures. “I champion the integration of new technologies into Chevron’s organization,” he says of his work analyzing  promising startups and developing utility scale solar projects to test their products.

Most excited to be working on: “Developing the most sustainable and cost effective energy resources of the future!”

Chevron Technology Ventures (CTV) because: “I sought the Berkeley MBA because I wanted to make a larger impact in the sustainable energy industry. Although I have an entrepreneurial background, transition to Chevron was welcoming. “I work on a small team and have a lot of flexibility in choosing how best to drive value for the organization. The role is very entrepreneurial and fits my work style.”

Inside CTV: “I’m based in Houston, but have managed projects in Argentina, where I led a team to identify strategic electrical enhancements for a Patagonia oil field, and in Hawaii, where I manage the engineering and development process for a utility scale solar R&D project.”

Networked: Feriante often encounters Haas alums while interacting with Bay Area clean energy startups. “This has helped to establish connections and more quickly reach a level of trust with new organizations.”

Job search strategy: Feriante participated in company presentations and conferences to network and learn about organizations, finding that he was able to focus on management consulting early in the recruiting season and energy companies in the late season. “Interestingly, I ended up in an internal energy consulting role.”

The BILD approach:  “I’ve been surprised by how often I use processes learned in Problem Finding, Problem Solving  and Haas@Work to understand and address business needs. Procedures I’ve learned at Chevron have added even more structure to identifying, framing, and analyzing opportunities.”

Living the Houston life:  Feriante is on the road a lot for work, but says that Houston’s airport access (and favorable weather) also work well for his passions–rock climbing and year-round motorcycle riding. “The best thing about Houston, though, he says, “is its people.”

Solar Win for Berkeley MBA

Will Regan and Will Greene in an earlier Xite Presentation

Hailed by judges as a “big idea” with significant implications for the thin film solar industry, Xite Solar took third place in the Department of Energy’s First Look West Clean Energy Business Challenge.

Full-time student Will Greene, MBA 13, and Will Regan, a Berkeley Physics PhD candidate, took home the honor and a $40K prize from the western regional finals of the competition, held at Caltech April 30-May1. Xite Solar’s technology enables production of high-efficiency, low-cost photovoltaics from a variety of earth-abundant, non-toxic materials.

Green and Regan, who connected last fall as organizers for the Berkeley Energy and Resources Collaborative (BERC) Innovation Expo, emerged from an original field of more than 80 teams and 30 finalist teams. “BERC has been a wonderful way to bring together students with an interest in energy from across the UC Berkeley campus..” says Greene. “It plays an instrumental role in facilitating interaction and collaboration among energy students from a diversity of academic backgrounds.”

Regan and Greene are going to be assembling a team of five students to participate in the Cleantech to Market class this fall to continue to work on the project.

Haas Achieves: A Video Year-in-Review

Congratulations to the full-time MBA classes of 2012 and 2013. In just one year you have accomplished an extraordinary amount, from organizing conferences and international treks to winning case competitions. We are so proud of all you achieve at Haas–and have captured what we could (i.e. some, certainly not all!) in this Haas Achieves video. We know you have many achievements yet to come and wish you the best.

Video produced by Tritone Media

Winning Approaches: University of Michigan Renewable Energy

The Winning Team: Dave Hirsch, Rohan Ma, Dan Stotts, Josh Lich, all MBA 13

The Competition: Renewable Energy Case Competition, University of Michigan, Feb. 2nd.

The Team: Dave Hirsch, Josh Lich, Rohan Ma, and Dan Stotts, all MBA 13.

The Outcome: First place.

The Field: Fifteen other teams, including those from Columbia, Tuck, Fuqua, and Kellogg.

The Challenge: To move a Michigan utility closer to achieving 20% of electricity generation from renewable energy technology. The team analyzed the cost-effectiveness of both renewable  and conventional energy generation; conducted risk and extraneous cost assements, and developed a risk-minimizing strategy that included analysis of tax implications.

The Winning Approach: Diversification. “We suggested a solution similar to diversifying a stock portfolio that would minimize the risks associated with renewable energy,” says Stotts. Also, a dose of reality.” We emphasized that there is no ‘magic bullet,’ but rather a combination of best-practices to employ around locational diversification, smart grid, energy storage, and market integration. Behind these recommendations, we provided robust financial modeling the corroborated our story.”

Won Because: Judges praised the team’s thorough and consistent approach. Stotts says the team’s two “quants,” Ma and Hirsch, exhaustively researched the inputs to the financial models that eventually led to the final costs presented. “The judges, industry experts, could see our costs were logical and realistic,” Stotts says” Additionally, the team’s strategy was specific to the market in which it operated and highly applicable.

The H Factor: “There’s no question that Berkeley-Haas has a vibrant energy community,” says Stotts. “The access that we, as first-years, have received through BERC, the Energy Institute, and experiential learning really provided an intuition from which we could think through the problems.” The team also credits the Leadership Communications course with helping deliver a confident presentation.

Defining Principles at Work: “Everyone left their egos at the door in order to facilitate collaboration,” says Stotts. The team took a Students Always approach by believing they could learn from each other and incorporating peer feedback to arrive at a more refined message. “Our maturity and authority on the subject matter also showed the Confidence without Attitude” that was behind our teamwork.”

Why it Mattered: “These are important problems and this is the preeminent energy case competition in the U.S. We wanted to represent Haas and leverage our respective backgrounds to develop solutions.”

ZZZ Factor: Every spare moment from receiving the case on Jan. 27 to presenting solutions on Feb. 2. was spent on the case. The night before departure, the team worked until 2 a.m., then left to pack for 6 a.m. flights. Copious amounts of caffeine and 80’s pop via Spotify kept them going in those final hours.


One official week in and full-time MBA students have already been clubbed: They’ve worked through a Zynga case with the Digital Media and Entertainment Club (DMEC),  attended an “Energy Boot Camp” held by the Berkeley Energy and Resources Collaborative (BERC), and heard Bain & Company perspective on the smartphone ecosystem, thanks to the Haas Consulting Club. Here is just a sampling of what’s happened in just a couple of weeks on the club scene–and what’s coming up:

A number of DMEC club officers, fresh off of summer internships at Zynga, came to Haas during O-Week to work through a Zynga Career Workshop with new students. Along with alumnus and Zynga Product Manager Matt Salazar, MBA 11, they gave an overview of the product management role and how games are designed. First-years then pitched game ideas for prizes. 

Zynga COO Marcus Segal addresses Digital Media club event

Those game industry contacts were leveraged once again the first week of school, when Zynga COO Marcus Segal addressed DMEC’s first speaker series class. Brain Guenther, MBA 12, serves as VP of Marketing for both DMEC and the Haas Technology Club (HTC) and says to watch for career treks to prominent digital media and technology companies, the annual DMEC >play conference, and a new case competition from HTC sponsored by VMWare.

BERC greeted students with an energy boot camp, where a crowd of people turned out to hear VC and legal perspectives on technology, policy, and business aspects of clean energy. BERC’s annual lecture on Sept. 1 features Samir Kaul of Khosla Ventures and UCB alternative energy Professor Chris Somerville, who will discuss a regulation, the role of large corporations in cleantech startups, and financing and deployment of clean technology.

The Haas Consulting Club welcomed some 80 people at each of their first two events: A management consulting primer and a discussion by Bain & Company consultants on the smartphone ecosystem wars. Watch for Consulting 101 on September 1, when a panel of 2nd-year students will discuss their internship job search and work experiences. “Interviews for management consulting start early and resume drop deadlines are coming up soon,” says Co-president Jarom Feriante. “The Haas Consulting Club has a lot of members who are serious about executing interviews successfully, and the time to start preparing is now.”

From Marketing to Latin American Business to Design and Innovation Strategy, if you’d like to go clubbing, visit the Berkeley MBA Campus Groups web page to learn more.

MBA Internships: Chevron Technology Ventures

Students Gain Experience, Expand Networks

Berkeley MBA students have found time this summer to climb mountains, consult globally through IBD, and perhaps even to unwind and dangle their toes in the water. For most, though, summer means plunging headfirst into the metaphorical waters of future careers with an internship. MBA Inernships is a series of posts on what the class of 2012 is learning as they work worldwide this summer in fields from banking to brand management and for companies from McKinsey to Microsoft.

Student: Adam Boscoe, MBA 12

Interning with: Chevron Technology Ventures (CTV)
San Ramon, CA

Thrilled to be with CTV because: I’m very interested in working to scale-up emerging energy technologies by taking them from the lab to widespread commercialization

Can’t believe he’s getting the chance to: Structure transactions with start-ups and equipment providers for new projects and work with some of the most promising energy entrepreneurs in the world. “In the first week I participated in numerous deal negotiations and even drafted my first term sheet.”

Already he’s learned: the value of combining a traditional business school education with a flexible, innovative approach to every solution. “Trying to solve the world’s energy needs is not something you read in a book, but it’s also important to figure out how to convey the excitement of new technologies in a way that makes sense to management and shareholders.”

Advancing career goals by: Connecting with many well known experts in his field and gained new tangible skills. “I was also looking for more blue-chip employment experience to round out my resume and Chevron has a great brand.”

Who makes you proud to be Berkeley-Haas? Tell us in the comments below or share your stories with vgilbert@haas.berkeley.edu.

Clean Energy for All

Impact Carbon, a Haas MBA Success Story

The shared ambition of Cindy Chen, MBA 10, Matt Evans, MBA 08, and Evan Haigler, MS 08 (Environmental Health Sciences), is quite simply, “clean energy for all.” They are the force behind Impact Carbon. This nonprofit facilitates the use of cleaner cook stoves in developing countries, sells the resulting carbon offsets, and puts the money back into those same communities to expand clean energy efforts.

Evans and Haigler spun off Impact Carbon from a research center within UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health. Evans now serves as managing director, Haigler is the nonprofit’s executive director, and Chen is a consultant. The team’s efforts received a boost when they were one of three UC Berkeley teams to win $10,000 in the 2010 Dow Sustainability Innovation Student Challenge, held in October.