Cisco vet takes on electric cars, Bloomberg fundraises for nature

Names in the News

Cisco vet takes on electric cars, Bloomberg fundraises for nature

Clockwise from top left: Padmasree Warrior, NextEV; Michael Bloomberg; Suzanne Apple, WWF; Jeffrey Sachs, Columbia Earth Institute; Dennis Creech, Southface.

Last year was a frenetic one in the world of sustainable business comings and goings, from Silicon Valley tech giants poaching White House talent to big names in retail, food and other sectors shuffling their environmental lineups.

For the inaugural 2016 edition of our monthly Names in the News roundup of career moves related to all things sustainability, we have a mix of intriguing new hires and familiar faces stepping aside.

Have a tip for our next installment? Shoot us an e-mail at [email protected].

Silicon Valley vet takes the reins at Tesla rival

Silicon Valley tech veteran Padmasree Warrior is out as chief technology officer of IT giant Cisco and officially in as the U.S. CEO and chief development officer of Chinese electric vehicle startup NextEV.

The upstart automaker already has attracted half a billion dollars worth of venture capital backing on hopes that the company will be able to compete with another startup in the EV space: Tesla.

What makes that stockpile particularly impressive is that the company doesn't even have a car on the market yet. NextEV only recently emerged from stealth mode and plans to start shipping its first EVs later this year — "including a model that will reportedly match Tesla’s 'Ludicrous' speed (0 to 60 mph in 2.8 seconds)," according to a recent TechCrunch article.

While Tesla has changed the game in terms of design and connectivity associated with EVs, pushing once-fringe clean cars much more into the mainstream, a slew of other automakers are also working to imrpove EV range, offer models at a variety of price points and build out charging infrastructure.

Warrior definitely sees headwinds in the space, framing the market for EVs as one poised to take off as governments and businesses mull more aggressive action on climate issues and emissions.

"Climate change and air quality are two of the most significant global challenges today," Warrior said in a statement announcing her new role. "I believe that electric vehicles will play a major role in the overall solution."

Who's news

Michael Bloomberg, TNC

Former New York City Mayor and billionaire media magnate Michael Bloomberg is no stranger to the realm of finance. He's also well acquainted with environmental issues after participating in initiatives such as fellow billionaire and clean energy advocate Tom Steyer's Risky Business group.

Now, Bloomberg is fusing those two fields with a new role overseeing a task force focused on the financial risks of climate change at the Nature Conservancy (TNC). Technically speaking, Bloomberg has been named chairman of the Climate Disclosure Task Force of the NGO's Financial Stability Board.

Suzanne Apple, WWF

After 13 years with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Suzanne Apple early this year announced that she has retired from her role as senior vice president of private sector engagement.

Jeffrey Sachs, Columbia Earth Institute

Jeffrey Sachs, the director of Columbia University's Earth Institute — and erstwhile sustainable development adviser to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon — will step down from his post at the institute in June.

Dennis Creech, Southface

The founder and executive director of sustainable energy nonprofit Southface, Dennis Creech, also will be stepping down from his post at the organization this year, likely late this spring.

On the move

— Public-private energy storage accelerator CalCharge has named Alex Luce, a materials scientist with dual experience in government and private sector startups, to be the group's new program manager. He will serve as second in command to CalCharge President (and founder of solar energy comany Sungevity) Danny Kennedy.

— The energy-focused business association Advanced Energy Economy has announced seven new companies that have joined as members of the group's board of directors, including Microsoft, Johnson Controls and Schneider Electric.