Climate change is one of the defining issues of our time, and as a climate company, your hiring decisions can make a huge impact. That's why we're excited to launch our new Climate Hiring Playbook! It's packed with everything you need to know about finding, attracting, and hiring top climate talent.
DEVIKA: Hi my name is Devika. I am a technical recruiter at Climate People, and we just recently helped place Matthew at Optera as a software engineering manager. So, Matt, it was great working with you and I'd love to hear more about how your experience was kind of transitioning your career into climate and what some of the interests were for you to wanna move into the space.
MATTHEW: Sure, sure. I went to grad school to get my master's in urban planning. I did that because I had a deep care for the world around me and wanted to make a positive impact on the world. When I was in that space, I also developed a love of technology and wanted to find a good way to merge those two things and use technology and data to give back. Throughout my career, it's always been something that while I wasn't able to do out of grad school, I wanted to come back to that and take the skills that I developed working.
I’ve worked at larger companies in the e-commerce space and I want to use that to build something that's gonna affect the world in a positive manner. So over the past few years, I've been building up those skills, relationships, and experiences. I think this year, just with various personal events and political and climate events happening, it really felt that, that it was time to change. It was time to make something happen and fulfill that promise I had made to myself so many years ago, to come back and use the skill sets that I've developed and provide some kind of mission-driven goal. For me, one of my focuses was looking for something in the climate tech space where I could use data preferably to help show the story that companies are having in terms of their impact. Through Climate People, I was able to get connected with a company based pretty close to me in Boulder, Colorado that shared that same mission which was fantastic for me.
Through the interview process, I really found out that their mission aligned with what I wanted to do, and am thankful for the placement to let me actually get to get to work and start making that positive impact at a much broader scale through my day to day.
DEVIKA: Yeah, so also on that note, I know that you've kind of reached this point in your career where you were ready to move into climate. You were really driven by this. I know that when we first spoke in our initial call you said that every year, you kind of do this introspective approach to where you're at with your career. Did you experience any barriers to making the shift into climate and starting to find climate jogs that interested you?
MATTHEW: Yeah, I think the barriers really were just knowing was out there. When I graduated a few years ago, this space wasn't as really developed as it is today. There's not only interest in founders to create these types of opportunities to really see tech as a way to combat climate change.
Now there are many more opportunities, which I didn't have before. There are a lot more investment opportunities as well. Probably the hardest part was actually knowing about them. I would just go on to your normal places to look for a job like LinkedIn or indeed, and just kind of search around.
I was a little at first when I started my search, discouraged because I was just having things come into me and, and just not really being interested in it, they were all kind of the same type of thing and the same type of space I'd been working at. It wasn't until I connected with you, Devika, and Climate People that I had a bit of a guide to really show me what was out there and to have a partner in that process. I think it was really refreshing on our first conversation to explain to you what I was looking for and someone who got it, and someone who got it and was like, here's five companies that we can go talk to right now to, to place you.
So, really having that kind of partner in the space, to navigate that and cut through the noise of the job market, especially right now, was really helpful and helped me get past some of that. The main obstacle of just finding something I could start digging into.
DEVIKA: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, even the climate of the job market right now, that's something that we've spoken about so often, it's crazy how competitive everything is right now, but it's so important to tie everything back to why you're even on the market and why you're looking and how making an impact in the environment in this space kind of exceeds all these other things that are kind of surrounding with noise. Because again, there are so many challenging problems and solutions to be made in this space.
I think a lot of these awesome tech companies that are in the climate area, all take everything from a very promising and compelling standpoint. So, your optimistic approach and your approach as a leader bring those skill sets to a team that's growing.
So, I'm super pumped about that. Can you share a little bit more about the job that you took, your overall mission, and what you'll be doing at the company?
MATTHEW: Sure. So Optera is a company that's really focused on helping organizations understand their footprint in terms of natural resource use and greenhouse gas emissions using software. So it puts those numbers right in front of their sustainability teams. Not just to give them the data, but to understand what their baselines at, but also to help them start seeing what actions they can take to achieve net-zero or whatever their other sustainability goals are.
Optera is a rapidly growing company and engineering is a huge part of that, to build out that process, to build out that software product that we provide to our customers. So really I'll be on the front lines of building out that team, growing the existing team, and helping them navigate that space. With rapid growth comes, obviously many challenges and just making sure that we can navigate that in a way that's driving value for our customers, our employees, and in the end, driving to that mission of achieving net-zero.
NATALIE: Yeah, definitely. So kind of piggybacking off of what you just said, like with rapid growth comes rapid change. I feel like that's kind of the epitome of the climate tech industry. Wouldn't you say? Do you have any advice for people like you or in a similar boat who want to get a job in this space? Like what did you do that worked and what would you recommend that these people follow suit and do?
MATTHEW: Yeah, I think for me, you know, Devika mentioned it earlier in the conversation, I always like to have a personal retrospective every year. I just kinda like to write down the things that I have in my life that I'm grateful for, but also the things that I feel like I'm missing.
As part of that process, I came back to this, this kind of mission that I feel like I lost out on, or wanted to get back into. And for me, what really helped was just being very sincere about what I wanted out of a role, both work-wise and mission-wise. But also being very confident in the skillset that I had gained over the past few years and being able to tell the stories of how I was able to build things up, how I was able to create things and circumvent challenges, because you know, to the original question — nothing is easy.
Climate change is one of the most difficult problems we will face as a society. So just seeing how people being able to demonstrate that grit that I think I've been able to put in day to day, and being able to tackle those challenges and showing that I was ready for that position and had thought a lot about coming into a mission-oriented company.
I think that helped me out in the long run. And being able to speak to yourself your truth, really, to the folks you're talking to. I know when I interview folks, that means a lot to me. I think with the companies I interviewed within this space, seeing how aligned I was with their mission was invaluable.
NATALIE: Definitely. I feel like you hit the nail on the head with the proper interview techniques. It shows your experiences, but don't just say them, show them like, how can you apply what you did and tie that into the greater mission of climate change and really just show the impact that you can make. That's awesome.
So, yeah, I'm sure people will really appreciate that. Would you mind touching a little bit on your experience working with Climate People?
MATTHEW: Sure. Yeah, absolutely. So again, I just kind of wandered about the internet looking for something and came across Climate People's posting for this job, submitted my resume, and then got contacted Devika.
She reached out to me and we had an amazing conversation about what I wanted, other roles, and about what Climate People could bring to me in the conversation, and the connections that they already had. That was really the beginning of it, where I got connected to Optera through Devika.
I really felt supported through that entire process. She was always checking in to see how my interviews were going and gave me a heads up on what I could expect next, or if I was lacking anything in information. And really being my advocate, I feel like oftentimes when you interview, you feel like kind of going alone, it was great to have that partner there.
And then when it came time to get the offer, she was in my corner. We talked through it. We kind of figured out what was for me was in the situation and she helped make it happen. For me, it was great to have that kind of confidant and advocate throughout the entire process.
What really blew me away about Climate People was how tied everyone I've talked to in the process has been to the mission and really understood the importance and urgency behind it. think that was something I didn't really think about until the end, but when when I look back at all our conversations, there was a lot of intention around them and a lot of like, let's make something happen and that really resonated with me.
I think, you know like you said too, it's a crazy job market. There's a lot of stuff going on. This really felt like every time I talked with Climate People, I could really focus on it. And I knew we were coming to something good through the process.
NATALIE: That's so awesome to hear. I feel like one, Devika is incredible, so you got lucky with her. And then two just, yeah, that's really just the gist of it. Everyone in climate tech wants to make that impact and wants to help, they know what we're dealing with and know what the stakes of not acting are.
So everyone really wants to ensure that we bring good people in — like you — and we get them jobs and we really start acting on it. In order to get to a solution, we really have to do the leg work first. So, yeah. That's awesome. Devika, do you have any more questions about Matthew's background or anything like that?
DEVIKA: No, but just a quick note on what you were just saying.
I think that's the beauty of climate tech! In this space is the alignment and synergy within the teams that are all working towards this common mission. So kind of seeing that and being able to be positioned so uniquely at the forefront of innovation, when all of this is about to take off and just launch up, there's so much good to come and so much impact to be made.
So you're joining climate at an awesome time and you're gonna build out this team and work on this current team. So, I like to say it's not the end of the relationship, it's the beginning. So I wanna see all the great stuff that you're gonna be doing Matthew. And, um, I'll still be here. So anything you need I'm, around for sure.
MATTHEW: Devika, thanks again for everything that you and, and the rest of the folks at Climate People have done, I really appreciate it.
NATALIE: So before we wrap up, while we are super proud of placing people in climate jobs, and that is our number one priority, we're also really proud to donate 1% of every placement fee to an environmental nonprofit. So we're working with a few environmental nonprofits and every time we place someone in a climate job, we donate 1% of that to your selection. We sent them over, I can give you a quick little refresher if you need it. But do you know which nonprofit you would like to donate to?
MATTHEW: Yeah, I chose the Holland Foundation.
NATALIE: Perfect. Yeah, they're a great organization. Do you rock climb at all or anything like that?
MATTHEW: Yeah. On and off.
NATALIE: So, you know, what Alex Honnold likes to do! He's a good man, but he does some crazy things, but then likes to funnel that support into good causes as well.
So thank you so much! We will send that over and donate that in your name. So thank you one for working on climate and for donating that as well.