It isn’t only companies that are crossing over from other industries. Employees also are making the switch.
For instance, solar-cell manufacturer Suniva said last week it had appointed two executives with IT backgrounds. Its new chief financial officer, James M. Modak, formerly held the same title at mobile-satellite communications company Datapath and also held executive roles at software firm DWL, which was sold to IBM, and digital-marketplace company Tradex Technologies, which was bought by Ariba. Suniva’s new vice president of marketing, J. Bryan Ashley, was previously the director of industry marketing at IBM and the chief marketing officer at DWL.
They aren’t the first greentech executives to hail from IT. One of the most prominent examples is Sun Microsystems co-founder and Khosla Ventures founder Vinod Khosla. Khosla Ventures’ new operating partner, Ford Tamer, was formerly a senior vice president and general manager at communications chipmaker Broadcom (see Q&A: Khosla’s New Partner).
Then there’s Bob Metcalfe, one of the inventors of the Ethernet and founder of computer-networking company 3Com. In October, he took the helm of GreenFuel Technologies, which is using algae to eat carbon dioxide and make biofuel, on an interim basis. Dozens of other IT-to-greentech examples abound, including SunPower CEO Tom Werner and Nanosolar CEO Martin Roscheisen.
In a time of uncertainty, more spots could be opening up to these crossovers experienced in other fields as some solar executives move on. To name just a few examples, Trina Solar (NYSE: TSL) CFO Sean Shao said earlier this month he would resign at the end of March, Evergreen Solar (NSDQ: ESLR) CFO Donald Muir left in December, Conergy CEO Hans-Martin R Rüter resigned in November and Miasolé CEO Dave Pearce left the company in December (see Evergreen Director Latest in Solar Exodus).