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Clean energy journalism for a cooler tomorrow

Charging Up: This Birkenstock-wearing venture capitalist means business

Canary chats with Victoria Beasley, a partner at Gigascale Capital. Plus, updates on big cleantech career moves and tips on how to electrify your life.
By Maria Virginia Olano, Eric Wesoff

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A smiling woman with a light skin tone and shoulder length blonde hair. A graphic overlay reads "CHARGING UP."

Canary Media’s Charging Up column chronicles gender diversity and notable career moves in the climatetech sector. Got a person or event you’d like to see us cover or a hot job tip? Let us know!

Victoria Beasley: A nature-loving venture capitalist

Victoria Beasley is a partner at Gigascale Capital. This interview has been edited and condensed for brevity.

How did you end up on this career path?

I grew up in a small town in North Carolina, playing in the woods every day and doing all sorts of fun nature things, which sparked my interest in science. I thought I wanted to pursue medicine, and I was a biology major in college. I went to work at an HIV clinic in Ethiopia, where I was doing financial reporting and found that I was very passionate about numbers and math, but I still wanted to do impactful work. Back then, there weren’t a lot of opportunities that married finance and environmental impact. Despite early doubts about reconciling those interests, I embarked on a career in investment banking to learn about building businesses and financial models.

On the side, I would take vacation time to secretly attend early versions of sustainability conferences in San Francisco. I was inspired by entrepreneurs who believed in building significant businesses while addressing environmental concerns. This led me to join a solar company as head of finance.

I went back to school to get an MBA at Stanford and then joined Prelude Ventures, an early finance-oriented climate fund. Now, I am very excited to be building a new climate fund from the ground up with Gigascale Capital alongside my co-founders. We are working on investing in early-stage climate companies that are using mostly hard tech to take on the biggest decarbonization opportunities.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Follow the people. By that, I mean prioritize the colleagues and leaders you’ll work closely with. For instance, in my early 20s, I was considering three job opportunities — one with intellectual and technological appeal, another targeting a vast market, and a third with both interesting technology and led by an exceptional leadership team — and I was struggling with the decision. I spoke with a venture investor who advised me unequivocally to pick the people I could learn the most from. This principle has guided my career decisions: Ultimately, success in both life and business is about the people you surround yourself with.

What is a barrier you faced, and how did you overcome it? 

I used to joke about hiding my Birkenstocks under the table when I was in investment meetings because, at that time, caring about the environment was seen as something cute” or a nice-to-have interest. But I believed early on that there was a massive business opportunity in transitioning every industry on the planet toward sustainability. Eventually, I realized I had to roll up my sleeves and be part of the solution. We’re still working on it, but if you look at how much capital has flowed into the space, how many people are moving into jobs in this sector and how many sectors are actively and publicly working on their carbon transition plans, a lot of progress has been made.

What do you think are some interesting, overlooked career opportunities in climatetech? 

Climate companies are, fundamentally, companies like any others. They don’t just need technical engineers and scientists; they also need marketers, finance managers, software developers and HR teams — essentially, all functions you’d find in typical tech or business sectors. So no matter the discipline, geography or sector, there are some really awesome opportunities out there.

What is your superpower? 

I think I’m a really good dot-connector and what-if” analyzer, both of which are crucial in advancing early-stage companies. I do it by understanding the whole system, the sector and the business itself, and then seeing how the pieces fit together.

Career moves

Erica Engle has joined Urban Grid, a developer of utility-scale solar power plants, as chief commercial officer. Engle was previously with the AES Corporation.

Lauren Boyd has been promoted to director of the Geothermal Technologies Office at the U.S. Department of Energy.

Janette Kessler, previously with Jingoli Energy, is now vice president of project finance at Renew Energy Partners, a firm that helps manage and finance energy-efficiency and clean-energy projects.

Amy Stice has been promoted to senior director of operations at renewable energy developer New Leaf Energy.

Molly Bales has joined engineering consultancy Wood as director of origination. Bales was previously with Form Energy.

Veronica Rusk has been promoted to partner operations specialist at solar roof tile manufacturer GAF Energy.

Lucy (Emerson-Bell) Kessler, previously with RMI, is now senior program officer of sustainable finance at the Bezos Earth Fund.

Hamsini Gopalakrishna, previously with GAF Energy, is now photovoltaics reliability failure analysis engineer at thermophotovoltaic startup Antora Energy.

Bronwyn Sastry has been promoted to director of structured finance at Pivot Energy, a developer of commercial and community solar.

Check it out

Do you want to electrify your life but don’t know where to start? We’ve got you covered! Canary Media staff writer Alison Takemura tackles all things home electrification in her column Electrified Life. Learn about the different types of heat pumps, how heat-pump clothes dryers can help you save money and how to electrify your home, even if you only have 100-amp service.

Maria Virginia Olano is editorial producer at Canary Media.

Eric Wesoff is editorial director at Canary Media.