Jeph Shaw is a T’15 originally from Western Massachusetts. After graduating from Tufts University in 2007, he joined the technology group of an investment bank in Boston focusing on Merger and Acquisition advisory. Most recently, he worked in energy private equity with a firm based in Hanover, focusing on renewable energy infrastructure.
Given the small size of Tuck's program, I’ve been surprised by the number of classmates who share my interest in energy and the breadth of their interests. The hub of energy interest on campus at the graduate level is the Dartmouth Energy Collaborative, a joint club of Tuck, Thayer School of Engineering and Vermont Law School. Energy learning at Tuck has also taken a big step forward from a curriculum standpoint with the establishment of the Revers Energy Initiative, which will endow a full-time professor focused on energy.
Having worked at a company in the renewable energy industry based right here in Hanover, I was already aware of a lot of the activity and players in the region, but I continue to be surprised the depth of close-by energy activity, and by the strength of the Tuck alumni presence. At a recent lunch on campus, a visiting alum who founded a large energy private equity fund advised - even those students focused specifically on oil and gas - to consider staying away from Houston to keep their thinking differentiated.
When considering what cities to visit for potential energy-focused career “treks”, we didn’t have to look further than Boston to find a cluster of activity around cleantech and energy finance that spoke to the interests of a diverse group of students across Tuck and Thayer.
Last month, a group of about 12 Tuck and 8 Thayer students made the two and a half hour drive, stopping first in Waltham (a suburb of Boston often considered the center of its technology activity). The groups split up between an early commercial stage wind technology company and a waste-to-energy development company.
I went with the wind group, into an office in a converted mill building that looked like it could have housed a social media startup. We got a great glimpse into the commercialization process from the perspective of a T’13 who was working on developing the first set of commercial scale projects using the company’s technology - a really exciting and important inflection point for the company. From Waltham, we headed east into Cambridge, where we met with a grid scale energy storage start-up. The front office where we entered had the look of a trading floor. From there we toured a working R&D lab in the basement and then sat with several members of the business team, including the CEO (a Tuck alum) who gave us some background on his career spanning energy consulting, public-sector work and cleantech IT, and explained why his current opportunity was the most exciting yet.
From a basement lab in Cambridge we headed to a skyscraper boardroom in the Back Bay, where we enjoyed a warm welcome from a large energy-focused private equity investment firm (literally, they baked warm cookies for us). Once there, several Tuck alums who met with us provided both a unique “macro” view of the energy industry as well as a “micro” view of the way they drive value in their portfolio companies.
The day concluded in the Seaport at the offices of a cleantech IT company, where again several enthusiastic Tuck alums greeted us, this time with much-appreciated cold refreshments. While some of us envied these recent grads’ opportunity to work on really interesting strategic issues at high levels of responsibility, they indicated similar envy for the fact that we were on our way back to Tuck for a weekend of fun with classmates.
Some of us stayed in town for an energy symposium at a large Boston-area business school the following day. While the compelling panel topics and knowledgeable speakers made for a worthwhile day, I think the other attendees from Tuck shared my opinion that the contrast to the intimacy of the previous day versus the relative anonymity of the larger conference was a great demonstration of the impact of Tuck’s unique community.
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