Q: Tell us about yourself and your background.
I started with Stem five years ago when the company was a Series C startup. These were the early days, when we had a couple hundred systems, were about to install some of the first local capacity requirement (LCR) systems in Los Angeles, and we had just completed our first project finance structures. During that time, Stem was waiting for the market to come to us, and in some ways, that’s exactly what happened. Stem continued to advance our smart energy storage software, build a robust customer base, and create our Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG) strategies.
Before joining Stem, I spent more than seven years as CFO of Borrego Solar Systems Inc., where I helped the company achieve 10 times growth and profitability. I was previously CFO of Solar Semiconductor Inc., a leading private, vertically integrated manufacturer and distributor of high-quality solar modules and systems with operations in India, helping it break $100 million in sales in less than 15 months. Since 2005, I have served as CFO for numerous high-growth solar, software, and online media companies, and was a founder of Buzzsaw.com, a spinoff of Autodesk. Prior to my work with Buzzsaw.com, I served as Corporate Controller for Autodesk, Inc. and worked for seven years in public accounting with Ernst & Young (EY) and PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Q: What is your role at Stem?
As CFO, my role is a combination of leading a team to get Stem’s financial books closed on time and accurately as well as the use of our balance sheet in accretive ways to drive adoption of our Athena smart energy software. I am also in the process of building the infrastructure that allows the company to be compliant with the various rules and regulations associated with being public, especially from a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) standpoint and with the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).
Prior to the initial public offering (IPO) at Stem, I did a fair amount of financing work where I helped lead eight formal financing rounds over the past five years. I also contribute to sales, which is a result of the previous development work I did with solar developers where I still have good contacts.
Q: In your executive role, how do you view Diversity & Inclusion?
Stem’s Culture Coalition is a huge part of Stem and is the driving force behind our Diversity & Inclusion initiatives. This is a voluntary group of Stem employees across all our teams that collaborate on building the type of company culture they want to be a part of from the top down and bottom up.
A big disadvantage for people just starting out in their careers is not being in the office with personalized access to senior people who can provide advice or direct them in a particular way. To overcome this, we established the Stem Culture Ambassador Program as part of the Coalition. This means experienced Stem employees are assigned to new employees during their first few weeks and offer themselves as a resource and answer questions surrounding Stem’s initiatives and other topics not typically included in onboarding. It’s a valuable opportunity to influence the culture of the business in a good way.
Q: Any advice for younger professionals?
It’s the same advice I give my son and that is, you have to work at it. Meaning, pre-pandemic, people could walk over and ask me a question. That close, physical proximity is gone now, so it puts the onus on new people to be more direct with reaching out to senior staff. People will always give their time, but if you want it, you have to ask. As opportunities present themselves you need to take advantage of them. Ultimately, it’s up to the individual to be proactive knowing that if you ask a question you’ll receive an answer; but if you don’t ask, there’s no question to answer.
Q: What’s an exciting project you’ve been involved with?
I played a significant hand with Stem becoming the first pure play energy storage company to go public in April 2021, which meant new benefits to our employees, customers, and partners. Through this transaction, Stem gained sufficient capital to execute our growth plans and further capitalize on the large and growing global market opportunity for our artificial intelligence (AI)-driven energy storage solutions. As a public company, Stem obtained over $500 million in net funding with zero debt, allowing us to invest in market expansion and our technology, give us substantial supply chain buying power and scale, and enable us to execute larger projects. The world is committed to combating climate change by driving decarbonization, and Stem is well positioned to advance our market leading position in contributing to these critical global initiatives since we transitioned to a public company.
Stem’s IPO was actually the fourth one that I’ve done – but by far it was the biggest transaction. With 14 years of experience, I can appreciate what an incredible outcome it was for our employees when Stem went public. The IPO positioned us very well with our partners and it put us in a much better position with our suppliers. Before the IPO, there were two things we couldn’t do as well: one was to significantly invest in our partnerships; and two, we were competing to prove that we were experts with viable solutions. But now we have 15 years of cash in our balance sheet with the ability to raise significantly more if needed.
Q: What are some of the recent industry trends that have made either a big impression on you or that you’re most excited about?
One of the most interesting things to me about storage, and I saw this back in the early days of solar, is that storage is now an asset class. By that, it’s now considered investable by folks like VCIB, Greenbacker, Clean Capital, and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan. Companies like Black Rock and Blackstone are taking large positions in storage and looking to build out their own solar platforms with Stem. To me, that’s a pretty exciting trend from a business standpoint. When companies like that invest, it’s a good marker in terms of the rapid maturation of the business.
Q: Why should Stem’s investors and partners have confidence in us?
There are three themes to why people and businesses should be confident with Stem: best-in-class software, unparalleled experience, and exceptional service.
First, Stem started as a software company, and the DNA of our business is software – not construction or development. We developed our Athena AI-driven energy software as the energy storage solution that our partners are looking for and for the industry to continue to evolve.
Second, experience does matter. Stem has demonstrated experience across multiple markets over a long period of time with both behind the meter and front of meter solutions. That’s because Stem is only doing pure play smart energy storage.
Third, our focus on the value streams of energy storage provides our partners with exceptional service. This includes access to Stem’s dedicated team of experts in their field and guarantees of our services, which is something many of our competitors can’t say they offer.
Working with Stem means collaborating with data scientists, energy experts, skilled salespeople, thought-leading executives and more from a range of backgrounds. This intersection of ideas, beliefs, and skills is what makes Stem unique enough to lead the world’s largest network of digitally connected energy storage systems.