In What it's Like we ask people working in a variety of roles across the range of sustainability sectors to tell us about their organization, their work and their career path. In this, our flagship edition of What it's Like, we hear from Vanessa Gerber , Marketing Associate at CleanFund, a leading provider of energy efficiency and renewable energy financing to the commercial real estate sector. Vanessa is also an E2 Emerging Leader.
What is CleanFund's mission and core strategy?
CleanFund makes it easy and affordable to finance energy, water and other vital improvements to commercial properties that increase their value and decrease environmental impact. By engaging with commercial property owners and key partners we provide innovative finance solutions to move projects forward, taking pride in the role we play in enabling customers of clean energy and energy efficiency service providers.
In this video, CleanFund explains the basics of commercial PACE financing:
Tell us about your role
Being on the Marketing Team at CleanFund, I am directly responsible for our digital and email marketing strategy and execution. As CleanFund is a small yet growing company, there is a lot of strategy and process build-out that is inherent in everyone’s work as well. What this means is that, in addition to running targeted educational and business development campaigns around Commercial PACE financing and the problems it solves, I am also very involved in the reflection on and development of company strategy around who we should target and why, and then tasked with utilizing and building out our database accordingly. No one day is the same!
How did you get the job- what has been your career path?
Having studied energy and environmental policy, after grad school I was looking mostly in the policy and non-profit spheres. I was informational interviewing my heart out and making fantastic connections across the Bay Area and clean energy/environmental space, though had not considered the finance side of things, having no finance background in my education. That’s why it came as a pleasant surprise to find CleanFund and to have such a strong fit. They had recently posted a marketing position, and I was looking for marketing/communications jobs, and with the clear passion and work ethic it was clear I’d be a strong contributor to the growing business.
Describe the CleanFund work culture- what's it like to work there?
CleanFund is a family of committed, knowledgeable, and competitive people who drive hard for one another and for our bigger mission, but who also strive to keep life light and challenges inperspective. We accomplish a lot and enjoy the opportunity to learn from the deep experiences of our team members in areas such as commercial real estate finance and investment, structured finance, solar, and general entrepreneurship. We laugh often, enjoy yoga and IPAs, and find it a rare day when there are no dogs in the office.
Describe the sector in which CleanFund operates
Clean energy finance/fintech. Specifically we are in the Commercial PACE industry, a niche industry currently only in the US, focusing exclusively on providing capital to commercial real estate owners and developers for capital improvements and/or high energy performance new construction. There are a handful of competitors around the country, with more capital providers coming into the picture as Commercial PACE continues to grow in originations volume and its role in capital markets.
What do you love and hate about your job?
I love learning regularly and working with an open and respectful team all throughout the company. I love being part of the solution to deploying commercial solar and energy efficiency. I love the opportunity to learn about how to grow a business by actively taking part in the strategy and development of our company. I don’t love how much screen time I spend (virtually 100% of my time) and how much I have to focus on database management (roughly 30% of my time). I don’t love how often my ‘day job’ creeps into ‘nights and weekends’ work.
Where can people find you?
What is your favorite animal?