5 Questions with Brett Rubin, VP of Portfolio Talent

Brett Rubin
VP of Portfolio Talent

1. Tell us about what you do at Galvanize Climate Solutions.

In my role, I help Galvanize’s growing portfolio of companies build outstanding and high-performance leadership teams, boards, and executive networks, while also providing guidance on best practices for aligning organizational structure, compensation, and culture within the business strategy. This work includes actively cultivating rosters of vetted candidates for select roles, connecting companies with highly relevant search partners to assist with recruiting efforts, and providing smart, targeted, and high-impact search support from start to finish.

2. Why did you choose to join Galvanize?

When I reflect on my career, the jobs or projects that I’ve loved most have always been those with a strong mission orientation — and at this point in my career, it’s become critically important to me that the company I work at have one as well. From my first job at Goldman Sachs that had a strong philanthropic element, to working at a renewable energy FinTech startup during cleantech 1.0, to then supporting SoftBank’s Opportunity Fund, I quickly learned that I thrive in environments where everyone is striving towards a shared mission.

So when I came across Galvanize, I was immediately attracted to the firm’s powerful mission and purpose-driven work. I wanted to contribute to a company that I believed was doing something unique in a rapidly growing and increasingly important market that will hopefully leave the world a better place for my children. This energizes and motivates me everyday. 

Lastly – this might go without saying – Galvanize is made up of a remarkable group of people. The talent the firm has already attracted is a credit to the leadership of Tom and Katie, and I was drawn by the opportunity to learn from the expertise of this team.

3. What trends are you seeing in the climate tech job market?

I am consistently so impressed with the tremendous quality of talent that climate companies continue to attract. I’ve seen individuals who never pick up the phone when recruiters call and who are making more money elsewhere eagerly raise their hands to work in this field, drawn by the ability to contribute to something that can literally change the world. There also continues to be a high volume of climate quitters. The amount of people leaving their jobs to move into the sector has not slowed down in the past year. A 2022 survey of 10,000 energy professionals by the Global Energy Talent Index found that 21% of the renewables workforce joined from another sector in the last 18 months.

From the hiring side of things, there remains immense demand for Go-To-Market functions, which is where we spend the majority of our time, in addition to Finance and People leadership roles. Separately, there is also always a need on the tech and engineering side, we just spend less time there. 

Lastly, this also goes for non-climate tech work, but searches are taking a little bit longer now than they had a year or two years ago. Candidates and companies are spending more and more time doing their due diligence on each other. Candidates are asking tougher, more direct questions in interviews and really trying to suss out the opportunity to ensure alignment and belief in the viability of the company before Day 1, and the same goes for the reverse.

4. What are some of the top qualities and skills that climate tech companies look for?

Let me start out by saying that anyone who is interested in this space should definitely consider pursuing it — whether or not they have previous experience in climate tech. We have a massive problem to solve and we don’t expect all candidates to have specific domain expertise. Rather, from the C-suite to more junior roles, we look for individuals who have a track record of working in various sectors or on different projects, anything that demonstrates their curiosity and lack of intimidation in learning something new. Prior experience rolling up your sleeves to do the dirty work is a plus too, as most early-stage climate companies have to rely on all positions to be key players across operations. We also look for mission alignment — which doesn’t have to be from a climate perspective. It could be a personal motivation to do good or a history of working with nonprofits, serving on boards, volunteering, etc.

5. How can climate tech companies help attract talent?

I am a firm believer that it’s vitally important for climate tech companies to invest in properly communicating what they do. Whether this is creating programming to help individuals understand technical products or some of the nuances of more complicated sectors, putting time and energy into telling your story can go a long way in becoming more accessible to those with less knowledge of or who are intimidated by the field. It’s no secret that it takes money to market and brand well, but these things are indispensable in helping engage, attract, and inspire top talent.