Meet Evan Kutter! Rather than focusing on the guilt from "not taking enough individual action," Evan pivoted his career to climate so that he could make systemic changes through his job.
BRENDAN: Welcome back, everyone. My name is Brendan Anderson, founder of planet people. I am very excited to have Evan with us today to talk about your journey moving into climate tech. And Natalie, why don't you? Why don't you start us off and then we'll go back and forth ping pong with a bunch of questions.
NATALIE: So yeah, as Brendan said, we're so glad to have you, Evan. We're just gonna touch a little bit on your experience getting a job in climate so that we can share that in hopes of getting other people to join along. Oh, would you mind just starting by briefly talking about your experience getting a job in climate?
EVAN: Yeah. I mean, I guess, starting from the why and climate stuff. I knew that I was looking for my next role, given all the shifts that we had around COVID and the shift to remote work. I knew that one thing that was going to be important for me x role was a match between the problem space and the product that a particular company was gonna be working on. It was just a big opportunity to break out of what are the opportunities around me geographically and to really focus on what's some problem or product I really want to be a part of that initiative. And then for climate stuff, I was talking to a former coworker who actually plays with people. And we were talking about his you know, getting a switch to switching over into climate and that sort of thing. And I realized that you know, as an environmentally minded person, you know, like, growing up, grew up in California. Turn off the lights when I'm out of the room, use a gas-efficient car, recycle, all that kind of stuff. Those are all great individual things to do. But you know, I have family members who are part of, you know, part of like an environmental nonprofit in a leadership capacity, and I think that's a great thing to do. As a young dad of two, I don't have the extra time to be like I'm going to do my full-time job and be a dad and have some time for myself and also then be part of the nonprofit. So it just seemed like a really cool opportunity to say, Well, why don't I try and take the job portion and line that up with the change that I want to be seen in the environmental and climate change space. So that was kind of how I got going in this direction.
NATALIE: I love that so much. I feel like everyone we talked to you kind of use it as two different parallels like you have your job. And then you have your environmental passion and they don't see the ways to mash them together. So yeah, you say that. I think a lot of people resonate with that just because it's like 40 plus hours a week that you can be spending to combine those two passions together.
EVAN: It's you get used to, you know, reading articles in the news, you're reading headlines, and you're aware of it and you know, what's going on with that, but it wasn't something that until the last couple of months that I actively engaged with trying to figure out what how could I be a part of this, you know, what's a role I can do in this more than just sort of the individual stuff because you can feel a little discouraged? Like, okay, I recycled great, but like, how much is that helping?
BRENDAN: Yeah, I want to actually tap in on that part of it as well a little bit because it's interesting listening to you. Talk about personal consumer behavior. choices that you were making. That then led to you maybe taking that extra step. I know for me, what you said was exactly my personal experience. And then when I started to poke around to see whether jobs there in this space for someone like me, I assume that finding jobs that were climate impact jobs were for scientists and engineers and policy people. And when I started looking around, it basically confirmed that like Like, there weren't jobs for recruiters, and there weren't any other staffing agencies that were focusing on tech recruiting for this space. And I didn't find that there were even a lot of software companies that were doing it's it's a very hard it's not a sector. It's not even an industry right. So finding these kinds of impact jobs like what was it for you that that you wick? Can you identify that point in which you realize you wanted to take that leap from making this just a personal choice behavioral choice to like, actually want to make this my job?
EVAN: Yeah, I can think about that in two parts. So you're asking about, you know, what was the point where I transitioned from thinking about I am just an individual in this to thinking maybe I could work in the space and contribute professionally to that. I would say that there are two things there's a Last Week Tonight episode that's coming to mind where they're talking about recycling. And, you know, the whole sort of discussion around how there's all the messaging around the individual and like it's on the individual to do the right choice there when in reality, there are these large corporate things that are going on, like large practices that are going on industry, and of course, consumer demand plays into that but there are these decisions that are being made in these very centralized places that influence the creation of all these single-use plastics and all that sort of thing. And so that I think was something that kind of, you know, lifted some of the scales from the eyes of like, the individual behavior that I'm having it kind of felt like I was a little down on that. I'm like, oh, okay, like, the impact I can have as an individual is like, I should do these things. But it doesn't have the kind of systemic change and like, this isn't a scalable thing to try and convince my neighbors to do this stuff or anything. It's family do that stuff. Like that's not actually going to have a big enough impact to turn the ship here. And then yeah, just talking to talking to somebody that I knew and trusted, you know, a former coworker who was like, 'Hey, I am working in this space. And I've talked to Climate People and they, they have other companies and other opposite other opportunities.' That can be in this particular space. I was like, great. Okay, well, this is a guy them to somebody who's done some of the hard work of figuring out where can somebody with this set up traditional working somebody with a set of traditional product and software skills fit into the problem around this? Because yeah, as you said, I'm not a scientist. I'm not a chemist. I'm not a mechanical engineer. I'm not planning on going back to school to redevelop those particular sets of things. It just doesn't make sense, I think, to do that as part of my professional path. Hobbies maybe but you know, yeah, yeah.
NATALIE: It's it's such a fine line between holding individuals accountable and then also putting the pressure on them too and we've found a lot of times that that doomsday rhetoric or we're screwed just like shuts people down? Like I said, the fine line between encouraging people to be accountable for their actions and do things to make a change without holding them solely responsible in a weird way.
EVAN: So yeah, you can get in a really bad place where you're trying to make, you know, some trade-offs between convenience and you know, what you think is the right environmental choice and you know, if you're focused on that aspect, they're like, yes, that decision matters when made over and over and over across the society, but they're actually bigger, impactful things that you could try and contribute to.
NATALIE: Yeah, and your job is a great way for sure. Did you experience any barriers in particular that were hard to overcome when getting a job I know, you said you had your friend who you trusted, but was it just a seamless process, or did you have any obstacles?
EVAN: I mean, there's the standard set of things that one should expect when applying for jobs. You know, I talked to another friend who was telling me about his previous experience searching before we worked together and he was saying just like, you know, no, that like there's no connection between the quality of the company and the quality of your resume and like there are going to be places where a door is going to be close to you and it wasn't because of you as a candidate. So I would say the standard stuff there were you know, you whether some rejection along the way. But I kind of went into that expecting that and I think that that's the sort of thing we're just you know, in any sort of job search experience. And also having been from the other side of the table doing interviews, I know that the perfect process is not perfect. It's not a referendum on own abilities there. So, I didn't and I feel fortunate because of that, I definitely feel like it's a blessing and an advantage to kind of have, you know, a bunch of larger tech companies that I worked for and to be like, cool, I feel like this opens doors and you know, at least has people wanting to have conversations, so I recognize the privilege in that.
NATALIE: Awesome. Um, so yeah, what job did you take? Can you touch on what you'll be doing in your new role?
EVAN: Sure. So I accepted a role with Persefoni, which does carbon accounting. I didn't realize what carbon accounting was before starting this whole process of looking into things. But I mean, that's just basically figuring out the carbon impact or the amount of the greenhouse gas impact of a company or a series of investments for disclosures or investment purposes. So I'm going to be taking a product management position on the platform and reporting side of things. So working with those people in companies that are presenting these customers, to help make sure that they've got the right platform of tools and reports available to understand their impact and to track and manage that over time. That's one of their most one precepting score things is figuring out hey, how do you measure this? And then how do you manage that? It was something that I hadn't really connected the dots of, you know, you hear in the news about the national level agreements. You know, is the United States, you know, in this particular chord, and what are we doing with respect to other countries who signed up for that, but without? I don't think there's a whole lot of discussion in the news about and here's how it's going to filter down to the private sector. That's a huge part of the emissions. It's not just a decision made it a national level. And so, you know, I can see how Persephone fits into that. And I thought it was a compelling part of the problem to tackle. Yeah.
BRENDAN: Obviously, right last week, did you see the news about it? Sorry.
EVAN: The SEC. Yes, I did. I did see the I saw the proposal pros with pros rule rules come out. So it was good to kind of see that outside echo of what you know, you and folks at Persephone had talked about like, Hey, here's what's coming down the line. And I was like, okay, cool. Yeah, we're getting to the end of q1, q1. Here's, yeah. And it was particularly interesting, I think, to see some of the responses of it of like, okay, well, it's a draft rule. Now. There's going to be you know, feedback and that sort of thing going on, and it will be interesting to just see the various slings and arrows that are thrown this direction.
EVAN: Yeah, but I think coming back to what you had mentioned earlier, and what how you felt and really how I felt, you know, the experience that I went through as well was that it's gonna take an awful it's gonna take significant policy change to make to really move to steer the ship from a consumer behavior standpoint, individual behavior, so it's this like, corporate lever that we can really pull and I feel like that's where organizations like Persefoni, you have to be able to measure your greenhouse gas emissions and what your carbon footprint is in order to really make the kind of drastic reductions that we need. And so a platform like this, and a policy like that will be really important to really get corporate corporates and investors to understand the impact and the changes that need to be made. So yeah, I think there's certainly in reading through things like how to avoid a climate disaster. Both of those things just really impressed on me that there are so many different lanes in the climate change fight. And that to think about it as like, how do I solve all of this is an impossibly paralyzing problem, and instead to recognize that there are separate parts of it that are completely disconnected but all going in the same direction? That I think helped open my eyes to the level into the variety of opportunities that there can be for a software to help these things and then also for just hard science, and then for policy, you know, like the government policy over individual actions and corporate actions, that does matter. It can help point people in the direction of things like heat pumps and away from furnaces and you know, going towards induction burners and away from natural gas stoves like there's a bunch of things that we can do, as we're building new homes as we're retrofitting homes, that will definitely make a difference that helps influence that consumer behavior.
NATALIE: Yeah, goes back to like the actionable here's what you can do rather than dwelling on the ultimate reality of what you can't do. It really does. really does make a difference in how you frame it. And I think climate jobs play a huge role in that too because it's, this is something that you know, extremely well, it's about your career, it's what you've done and then taking that knowledge and applying it to a climate role. I think it's really helpful for people to digest that.
EVAN: Yeah, that's certainly something I agree with there where it's like I don't know I only I'm only new learning about the ways in which we're tackling climate change, but I have spent, you know, over a decade working in and software product management so I can at least bring that experience to help.
BRENDAN: Yeah, Nat, to go back to your point about barriers. What was one of the Evans barriers? And I think, Evan, to your point about these, as I said, these different lanes that you can choose and different ways levers that you can pull in different ways to solve the problem. While there are a lot of opportunities, actually, in some ways makes it really challenging, right? Like that, in and of itself is a barrier for a lot of people because if you're looking for a job, this isn't a sector and it's not a specific industry. And so looking for the process of going about looking for this job requires having some level of baseline knowledge of what types of problems are that need to be solved. And in being able to do that amidst when you're getting constantly bombarded by companies and recruiters, pitching you this brand name e-commerce company or this Fang company. coming after you. It's it's a challenge that is a big barrier that we see every day. You and I have talked about this really throughout the process,
right. Yeah, I think so. Yeah. I mean, in terms of the barriers to figuring out what I could do in climate change and understanding the opposite set of opportunities and how that relates to the sort of more traditional tech jobs and that sort of thing.
EVAN: Yeah, definitely. There was a barrier of learning a little bit of like, what is in the space and what resonates with me, you know, there's a whole bunch of different areas where you can be doing that in and then just places where it's just not obvious. So it definitely was helpful. Talking to you guys at climate people and understanding some of the different companies that are in the area and to start to learn some of the problems that are going on out firsthand some of the different companies that are in the area and start to learn some of the problems that are going on there. Because I wouldn't have known to look in some of these places for these types of things. Also then it was definitely helpful. to go and get connected with some of the My Climate Journey stuff. In particular, there was a My Climate Journey mind map that was looking at are we shifting? Are we just working with atoms or are we just bits and then organizing companies at the type of problem that they're going in tackling you know Is it removing carbon from the air? Is it you know, going in trying to establish marketplaces, you know, there's a whole bunch of different things that you can be doing there and seeing a mind map like that to try and say, okay, cool, where do my skills fit into this? You know, which of these things are doing a little bit more software stuff? Which of these areas feels more compelling to me? Do I want to do something in a marketplace or related to credits? Or do I want to be doing something that's a little bit more about changing behavior or helping, you know, charging and that sort of thing, if that kind of helped give me a framework for deciding what of these things is actually a little bit more interesting to me. Yeah, for me, I guess when thinking about sort of the bigger companies and that sort of thing. Personally, having worked at smaller more mission-driven teams I valued that and I was looking for that sort of thing. I was much more interested in the fact that there is all this capital going into smaller, you know, companies that are doing scale-ups and startups and that sort of thing. That was really interesting to me just how much capital was going into the area. And so it kind of pointed to like, hey, there's a good opportunity here for both trying to tackle something that is, you know, line up with my mission and my values. But also something that's not giving away like saying, Hey, I have to take a pay cut, or I have to do a big discount to the number of earnings that I'm gonna have from this. You know, the fact that you kind of do both of those things I thought was really, really seemed like it was the right time to get into that.
BRENDAN: It's funny you say that. I just want to give a shout out to Yin she's the best and it's really great that the work that they're doing at My Climate Journey is helping inform so many people about what opportunities exist. So I just wanted to give a plug.
EVAN: Yin and I actually climbed Mount Rainier, back in 2009 together.
NATALIE: Yeah, talking about how, initially, people don't even know that the climate opportunities out there, and then once you get immersed in the space, it goes back to you need a mind map to figure out where to go. So it's really I think that's like one of the biggest barriers is that we've experienced and our candidates have experienced is not knowing and then getting immersed and then getting overwhelmed with trying to figure out how to erase that wall that's stuck in between getting people actually immersed in the space so yeah, definitely made some good points there. Um, yeah, so while we are most proud of getting candidates working on climate, we also are extremely proud of our partnership with 1% for the planet. Essentially, we donate 1% of every placement fee to an environmental nonprofit. I know Brendan sent over two nonprofits, I can give you a quick little refresher if you need one.
EVAN: No, I read through them yesterday and I have a choice there.
NATALIE: Who are you gonna select?
EVAN: Yeah, I'm interested in supporting the soul fire farm. And I think the reasons for that are that I just liked the fact that they're an organization that is focused on community resilience and that core of human existence food. And so I just think that in a place where we have a lot in a time where we have a lot of focus on the corporate this and the technology that and the consumer this I think that it's really important for us to keep some focus and support for organizations that are doing just, you know, person to person, community resilience, type stuff.
NATALIE: Yeah, definitely. When you think big picture when you can forget about what's right in front of you.
EVAN: Yeah, I think it's, I think it's again, important to have people in both in both lanes, and I appreciate that you know, somebody might look at Soul Fire Farm and be like, Oh, it's kind of a smaller geographic area, like it's not in as many places and, you know, that type of thing, and it doesn't have the same sort of technological part. Well, that's it's important. You know, we can't reduce everything to technology. It's really important to keep that community strength.
BRENDAN: Yeah. I want to say thank you, obviously, I want to thank Evan, of course. But thank you for making this shift, right, these individual actions and deciding to take your career are really important. And because you're doing this, the people in your network whether they reach out to you directly or not. They're going to see that right. The more people that do this, the more gravity right there's there's a gravitational pull that occurs as people individually make these choices. And there's the
quiet awareness of hey, I know this person who I worked with in the past and now they're working over this an area we work together on stuff. They're doing the same type of work but in a different area. Like I think it's, it's great to have more stories like that.
No, I totally agree. Well, we want to thank you. It's obviously really enjoyed working with you throughout the entire process.
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