Susie Schneider is Clean Energy Trust’s newest employee. Susie will be carving out a new business development and partnerships role for the organization. Learn more about what makes her tick and how she’ll be engaging our cleantech community moving forward.
1. What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be an astronaut. I remember watching the 80’s classic, SpaceCamp (if you haven’t seen it, you’re missing out on one of cinema’s true gems), and being inconsolably jealous of those kids who were accidentally launched into orbit. Hey Elon Musk, if you’re reading this and have a brilliant idea for sending completely unqualified civilians into space, call me!
2. When did you first become interested in clean energy? How did you get into the field?
After wrapping up grad school, I took a job as a coordinator on the Walgreens Corporate Sustainability team. I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into. I was young, eager to change the world, and in need of a job, so working in sustainability seemed like a perfect fit. And sure enough, it was.
I became enamored with clean energy and sustainability as I worked on projects that made a positive environmental impact while saving the company money via reduced energy costs. Some of my favorite projects included working on the country’s first ever net-zero energy retail facility, deploying solar energy across hundreds of rooftops, and managing the rollout of electric vehicle charging stations. To say it was a cool job is an understatement. It was the best introduction to clean energy that I could’ve asked for.
3. You’ve been at Clean Energy Trust for 1 month. What are some of the highlights for you so far?
I’ve loved learning about the companies in the portfolio. They are doing extraordinary work including: Power-over-Ethernet lighting, rethinking the way utilities engage with their customers, crop monitoring, and providing renewable energy to communities in Sub-Saharan Africa. It’s a very impressive group of companies, and it was such a treat meeting the innovators behind the companies at the CEO Summit.
I can’t wait to meet the new companies for 2018. Applications for the 2018 investment cycle are open now!
4. Speaking of the CEO Summit, that was one of the first events with us you attended. What are some of the portfolio companies and who are the entrepreneurs you met that left an impression with you?
I loved the CEO Summit! The summit kicked off with a networking event at On Tour Brewery, which was the perfect opportunity for me to connect faces with the names of the entrepreneurs in our portfolio. I enjoyed meeting such a diverse group of entrepreneurs and hearing their stories. I spent a good amount of time talking with the CEOs from SiNode, Aker, NovoMoto, Agentis, GoElectric, and NovoMoto. I highly recommend everyone visits the Portfolio Companies page to learn more about these phenomenal companies!
5. What is the one thing you think more people should know about Clean Energy Trust?
Do people know how mind-bogglingly passionate, intelligent, and creative the CET staff members are?! Seriously! This small-but-mighty team successfully runs millions of dollars of programming every year and supports every single investment in the portfolio. They are a key reason why the Midwest is becoming a hub for cleantech innovation, and I feel pretty lucky that I get to work with them every single day.
6. Your last position was in the rapidly changing, ‘Wild West’ world of legalized medical cannabis. What are some similarities and differences between the two industries?
I took a brief detour from cleantech to explore the world of medical cannabis and get some early-stage startup experience under my belt. I assumed it would be completely different from my work in cleantech, but I quickly realized there were many similarities between the two the industries.
For example, innovation is at the core of both industries. Success doesn’t come without a willingness to put on your innovation hat while you tackle unique challenges, think outside the box, and become comfortable with the uncomfortable. Compliance struck me as the biggest difference between the two industries. Both industries have their fair share of federal, state, and local regulations, but the manner in which you analyze, understand, and adhere to them requires a very different set of standard operating procedures.
7. Clean Energy Trust holds an annual thought leadership conference every year, and this year is particularly exciting as we unveil a new event format with Co_Invest Cleantech. Who would be your dream team lineup of keynote speakers?
Calling Mr. DiCaprio! Are you there? Or how about you, Mr. Gates?
Co_Invest Cleantech is right up your alley! My dream team includes: A speaker who is making an impact in cleantech and environmental sustainability; a successful entrepreneurs who can share a story about being in the same shoes as many of our portfolio CEO’s; and a speaker who can close things out and leave the audience feeling inspired and excited.
8. Part of your role will be to engage more corporations and private foundations in our work. What are some of the biggest opportunities there?
Clean Energy Trust understands the Midwest cleantech landscape better than anyone. We can and should leverage our expertise to showcase an area of the country that hasn’t traditionally received much love or attention. By engaging with corporations and private foundations, both in the Midwest and on the coasts, Clean Energy Trust can illuminate the Midwest cleantech scene to trigger economic development, foster more innovation, and create meaningful partnerships.
9. Outside of work, what other activities and hobbies do you do?
I believe life is best spent outside, so my vacations are typically spent traveling to places where activities like hiking, camping, and skiing are easily accessible. Most recently, I traveled to Glacier National Park and Banff for some hiking, river kayaking, and too-close-for-comfort grizzly encounters. When I’m closer to home, I enjoy baking, concerts, yoga, and meditation.
10. What’s your favorite music / band / TV show / movies / book ?
Movies – Mel Brooks movies are at the top of my all-time favorites, especially Spaceballs. Evidently I really like 80’s space movies.
TV – I just binge-watched both seasons of Stranger Things. Two thumbs up!
Music – Lately I’ve been digging Leon Bridges, The Record Company, Gary Clark Jr., and The Punch Brothers. My taste in music is all over the place, but it typically leans toward funk, soul, indie, and alternative.
Books – 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami. Coming in at 1,000 pages, it’s a beast of a book, but totally worth it.