As we head towards impending climate targets, a new era is unfolding—one that seeks to combat the consequences of climate change, innovative technology has emerged as a beacon of hope. Co-founder and CEO of Sea Change Paige Carratturo analyses this industrial revolution against the last two and explains why this one is the most important.
The Industrial Revolutions of the past two centuries stand as unparalleled accomplishments in human history. The first took root in 18th-century Britain, fueled by coal and the emergence of the factory system. It later spread to America and reshaped society until World War II. This transition from manual craftsmanship to machine-dominated factories revolutionised every aspect of life. Today, we find ourselves in the midst of what can be called the Third Industrial Revolution, where technology, innovative business models, and progressive policies converge to combat the dire consequences of climate change. However, unlike its predecessors, this climate tech revolution places human ingenuity and collaboration at its core.
The Earth’s temperature has already risen by approximately 1.1 °C since the late 1800s, marking the end of the Industrial Revolution. Greenhouse gas emissions persistently rise, exacerbating the impacts of climate change. To limit global warming to the crucial threshold of 1.5 °C, as outlined in the Paris Agreement, we must reduce harmful emissions by 43% by 2030.
Regrettably, the current commitments made by countries worldwide still put us on a trajectory towards 2.8 °C warming. We cannot afford to settle for less. Unlike the previous industrial revolutions, which were predominantly driven by the advent of new energy sources and assembly line processes, technology alone cannot innovate sufficiently to combat global temperature rise. The true key to success lies in the individuals behind the technology, who possess the vision and expertise to deploy and scale innovative solutions. People, not machines, are the driving force behind addressing the climate crisis.
Drawing inspiration from the past
Global temperatures soared due to the carbon emissions unleashed by the first two industrial revolutions. These revolutions revolutionised the agriculture, transportation, industry, and energy sectors. In the face of the urgent need to combat climate change—a perilous threat to both businesses and human existence—we have the opportunity to develop new solutions and business models that decarbonise the accomplishments of the past.
Key Areas of Transformation:
Infrastructure: Transforming agriculture, cities, land, and water
- Air Quality
- Water Tech
- Waste to Value
- Agtech (Precision Ag | Drones & Imagery | Farm Management | Field IoT | Robotics)
- Land Use
- Smart Cities
Transportation: Electrifying transportation and mobility
- Electric Vehicles (Consumer, Commercial, Motors & Powertrains, Battery Recycling)
- EVSE, Autonomous, Auto OEM
- Fleet (Connectivity & Data Mgmt, Fleet Mgmt, Parking, Passenger Safety & Exp, Cyber Security, Carshare)
- Battery Tech
- Aviation (Hydrogen, Electric)
- Freight (Supply Chain)
- EV Infrastructure
- Mobility (Micro Mobility, Shared Mobility)
Energy: Transitioning to renewable energy and a cleaner grid
- Energy Storage (Thermal, Utility Scale, Containerised)
- Renewable Energy (Wind, Solar, Ocean & Hydro, Nuclear, Waste to Energy, Geothermal)
- Distributed Energy Resources
- Grid Management / Optimisation (Analytics, AI/ML, distributed energy resource management systems)
Industry: Enhancing efficiency and sustainability in manufacturing
- Drones & Robotics
- Waste & Recycling
- Chemicals & Plastics
- Manufacturing Tech
- Mining Tech
- Industrial SaaS
- Circular Economy Commerce
Buildings: Innovating the built environment
- Construction Tech & Materials
- Efficiency/Optimisation (Building Automation, AI/ML, Residential, Commercial, Energy Management, Heating & Cooling)
- IOT / Smart Building Solutions (Healthy Buildings, Tenant Experience)
- Property Tech (Portfolio Management, Listings Services, Visitor Management, Flex Space & Software, Integrated Workplace Management Systems, Access Control / Video Surveillance, Parking Management)
However, achieving climate goals within the next seven years demands more than just innovative clean technologies. Technological advancements must align with the right individuals possessing the skills and talent necessary to execute these advancements and achieve commercial success. This is crucial for startups seeking to deploy their solutions on a massive scale, as well as for corporations drastically transforming their business models to prioritise environmental, social, and governance (ESG) progress. In both scenarios, the focus should not solely be on which technologies to employ, but rather on how to rapidly scale them to effectively address the climate crisis. Even artificial intelligence cannot make these execution decisions. It requires industry experts to assess options, consider outcomes, and make strategic decisions that steer us in the right direction.
Choosing the Right Path
While it is unfortunate to witness significant lay-offs in big tech companies, this presents an opportunity to channel their knowledge and expertise into driving the development of clean energy startups and venture-capital firms. As workers seek roles that offer a sense of purpose, the talent pool expands. However, even with an abundant talent pool, assembling the right teams at the right time to execute swiftly and at scale poses challenges. These teams must be entrusted with a sustainability strategy that not only focuses on achieving zero emissions, but also collaborates with partners to overcome common obstacles. Simultaneously, they must inspire employees, executives, and investors to allocate resources towards driving ESG efforts.
To navigate the complexities of the hiring process, specialised talent advisory and recruiting services, along with market and leadership intelligence, are available for investors and their portfolio companies committed to solving the climate crisis. Collaborating with a talent partner can mitigate risks associated with recruiting for early-stage companies or organisations undergoing transformative change or facing significant challenges. In both scenarios, talent advisory provides guidance for hiring decisions, reducing execution risks and instilling confidence in the successful scaling of climate tech solutions.
Talent advisory services offer:
- Actionable plans to attract high-quality talent in the market and secure their commitment to opportunities.
- A clear talent roadmap and timeline to share with current or potential investors, demonstrating a well-researched plan and an intimate understanding of the candidate market to execute that plan.
- An extension of the executive team to drive both tactical and strategic hires, eliminating the need for a large internal recruiting team that may lack the industry expertise and relationships required to attract the right talent.
To replicate the transformative impact of the 18th and 19th-century industrial revolutions, technology must work hand in hand with talent. With the right teams in place, we can leverage technological innovations to create zero-carbon solutions that facilitate the transition to clean energy.
Given the urgency of the situation, we have only one chance to achieve our collective climate change goals. We must get it right from the start by having the best people in place, equipped to solve business challenges and propel humanity towards its next revolutionary chapter.
Although rising inflation typically means organizations must take on more costs, there are ways to offset them to maintain their ESG-themed targets. While more expensive materials or labor may make achieving goals more challenging, they’re still valuable and attainable objectives.
Paige Carratturo is the Co-founder and CEO of Sea Change, a talent venture firm that provides advisory, business intelligence and retained search services to climate tech investors and their portfolio companies, as well as some of the largest global corporations that are transforming their executive teams in order to meet the complex demands of moving to a more sustainable and climate-focused operating model.
At Sea Change Advisors, she drives thought leadership and leads advisory services and C-level recruiting. Paige co-founded Sea Change as an evolution of the Enertech Search Partners brand, which was founded in 2009. Paige is a thought leader and frequent speaker about topics related to talent strategy, leadership development, acquisition, and retention.
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