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The Booming Climate Tech Ecosystem at HBS

Updated: Sep 1, 2023

Aishwarya Amuda, Women’s Leadership and Social Equity Editor


Your guide to get involved at HBS and outside to tackle the most pressing problem facing humanity


In April 2022, as I landed in sunny San Diego all the way from India for the ASU+GSV EdTech industry conference, I had no idea that I was about to completely change my career trajectory and industry. My personal experience, as a first generation college graduate who has achieved tremendous upward social mobility through education, deeply motivated me to continue working in the EdTech sector, where I had spent most of my early career. I was firmly determined to start up in the public education space in India post-HBS.


However, as I heard John Doerr, a prominent VC at Kleiner Perkins, take the stage as a keynote speaker at the ASU+GSV summit, where he spoke about his outlook, findings, and plan to tackle climate change, I was suddenly reawakened to this very existential threat to humanity. Climate change had been in the background of several conversations back in India and I was witnessing the climate catastrophe unfold right in front of me in Delhi, India’s capital, where the air was literally unbreathable. On most days I spent visiting my family in Delhi that summer, the AQI (Air Quality Index) was above 200, which is a very unhealthy and hazardous level, affecting everyone regardless of health or age. I could not even step out of the house to enjoy a casual walk with my family.


Digging deeper, I found several charts which wildly angered and worried me at the same time. Turns out that while developed countries, which were currently causing and have historically caused much of the existing environmental damage, had a fighting chance to land safe at the other end of the climate catastrophe, it would be countries like India where the most vulnerable populations would be at the risk of getting completely wiped out.

As I thought about what was being done by people around me who had graduated from some of the most prestigious engineering institutes in India to tackle this threat, sadly, almost nothing came to mind. Luckily, as I was exiting the event in San Diego (where I could breathe and take a walk in the park!) I was handed a book called “Speed & Scale”, written by Doerr, the very gentleman who delivered that speech. This book took me from a place of confusion and hopelessness to a resolve to take actionable steps to tackle this existential problem. Ever since, I have been on a journey to find an effective climate tech solution that can be scaled to India, which will hopefully play a part in averting this disaster.

If you feel similarly inspired or even deeply pessimistic and do not know where to start, this article will lay out a list of resources which might help you figure out your own climate journey. I am nowhere near the end of my quest, but the vibrance and energy of the climate community at HBS keeps invigorating me every single day, inspiring me to take one further step.

  1. Books to get you started:

Speed & Scale by John Doerr: If your mind works well with numbers and structure, I cannot recommend this book enough. Mr. Doerr has laid out a climate action plan for the world in a simple OKR (Objectives and Key Results) framework with interesting stories from stalwarts in the industry. 

How To Avoid a Climate Disaster by Bill Gates: This book comes well recommended by Professor Jim Matheson, HBS’ very own climate guru. Professor Matheson told me casually to read the book by “Bill”; it took me a google search to figure out that he actually meant Bill Gates.

  1. Courses at HBS and Harvard:

Accelerating Climate Solutions SIP: This SIP (Short Intensive Programme) came very highly received by the attendees and the BEI (Business and Environment Initiative) team has collaborated with Professors Laurans, Matheson, and Tufano to add a series of additional events this semester open to all interested students, whether you participated in the SIP or not. Reach out to bei@hbs.edu to learn more.

Creating Climate Ventures Course: Led by Rebekah Emanuel, Director of Social Entrepreneurship at Harvard Innovation Labs, this course is for people who want to found a climate startup to tackle climate change, but do not yet have an idea or whose idea is nascent. Class is held virtually and is open to Harvard students, alums, faculty, and staff.

Sustainability Chats by CPD: Join small group chats with Professors Jim Matheson or Eleanor Laurans to get advice on careers in sustainability and hear from your peers on their experiences. Register on the CPD Website.

  1. Energy and Environment Club:

Your best source for the most helpful newsletters with job resources, competitions and key updates on the sector at HBS. They also host amazing events and happy hours to meet folks passionate about the industry.

  1. Organisations in Boston:

“Extinction Rebellion” describes themselves as an international mobilization for non-violent direct action against governments’ criminal inaction on climate change and the wider ecological emergency. They not only organize non-violent protests but also some great concerts, movie nights, and book clubs to bring awareness to climate change. Learn more at https://xrboston.org/

  1. Climate Specific Job Boards:

Terra.do is a particularly exciting resource for me as it is at the intersection of EdTech and Climate Tech.

Terra.do is focusing its efforts on helping mid- and late-career professionals around the globe transition into green jobs. Its immersive 12-week online climate bootcamps, paired with its career platform, help participants gain access to green jobs and begin building new professional networks. 

I hope that you find at least one of these resources helpful as you move forward with your climate journey. Wishing you all a lovely spring break!

 

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