The CleanTech Revolution – updated and still ready for use: book review & interview with Clint Wilder

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Over breakfast with Clint Wilder this morning we had a good discussion about the interest and excitement of young and more ‘seasoned’ professionals in the CleanTech space.  We launched into a discussion of his and Ron Pernick’s book, a great resource for career changers interested in transitioning into the CleanTech space.  It is now updated and out in paperback.

Like so many in the CleanTech space he and Ron are “high tech refugees”, and as longtime reporters they speak the language of communicating complicated stuff to the lay person. As a recruiter I’ve seen it to be a great resource for interested candidates as the first real step in the long journey that is learning about Clean Technologies.  To be fair what we term as CleanTech is terrifically broad and investors, entrepreneurs and job seekers need to do some real homework before attacking markets.

For the job seeker and entrepreneur it is most important – while investors can diversify their portfolios across a variety of asset classes, technologies and companies, a job seeker and entrepreneur can only work on one company at a time. If you are coming into the space with little understanding of what “clean tech” is (aside from a sexy sector where you might have a prospect of getting a job these days) then you need to get your hands on a resource that will give you an infrastructure from which you can do some more research on policies, technologies and eventually companies and people.

That is what this book can do for you – and as Clint said to me this morning “introducing cleantech to a wider audience was the impetus behind the book” (to his credit he said it was that and wanting to be a published author).  The CleanTech Revolution is a timely book given the incredible interest shown by university students and current professionals keen to align their career with their values.  When he and Ron Pernick began thinking of writing the book in 2004 it was a blend of foresight and, for both career changers and their publisher, good fortune.

Clint Wilder, author

Here are a couple of questions and answers from our chat:

CleanTechies: With the dynamism of the industry, given policy changes, economic uncertainty and emerging technologies – 17 months after publishing the 1st edition, what did you modify for the latest edition?

Clint Wilder: Well, we honestly felt we had to change very little and feel that the book is still very current in 2008.

CleanTechies: Of the 80 companies you and Ron selected as “companies to watch”, what additions or subtractions would you make in hindsight?

Clint Wilder: Not many really, even if VeraSun* declared bankruptcy a few weeks ago. Frankly, we selected them to be companies to watch [not necessarily to invest in]and even in hindsight it still belongs in the book.

CleanTechies: How about other sectors and categories – would you now have included Infrastructure and Geothermal in your book?

Clint Wilder: Geothermal is key, and we identified it in our trend report for 2008. Google’s interest in the sector demonstrates it as being an important source of clean base load power.

CleanTechies: As a self-proclaimed “High Tech Refugee” is CleanTech going to be the continued focus of your research and writing?

Clint Wilder: No question.  I’ve not decided if it is a new book effort or not, but I see CleanTech as a cornerstone of the economy’s recovery and job creation.

(end of interview)

Clint just came back from moderating a panel entitled “Early Stage Investing in CleanTech” at the NetImpact conference last week. The three Venture Capitalists on the panel left him impressed with their optimism for the space in light of the economic setting. Career changers and prospective entrepreneurs, stay focused and interested in CleanTech; there are opportunities there and the space needs your energy and ingenuity – frankly our future depends on it.

That said, as a recruiter, let me say that before you can pretend to add value to an organization you need some exposure, and you need an infrastructure of knowledge to understand the buzz words, the opportunities and the constraints – the book will do it for you.  While you read it choose some technologies you find compelling and continue to do research on them: find out who the competitors are, learn about the markets they address, and appreciate the legislation and policy that affects them.  Once you have done that you’ll have identified a few companies worth pursuing and then it will be time for the tough part; take a class or two and begin to network with a better understanding of the space the companies operate in.

My message to you while wearing my recruiter hat: If you are new to the space – read the book, it won’t get you a job, but it will ensure you can begin to ask the right questions to find an appropriate one for your interests and skill sets.

The Book

Ron Pernick and Clint Wilder, “The Clean Tech Revolution: Discover the Top Trends, Technologies, and Companies to Watch” (Paperback); Collins Business; revised updated edition (September 16, 2008).

You can buy the updated softcover version of the book in our bookstore.

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