At VECKTA, we’re co-creating the Energy Transition Platform: the leading global marketplace for design, optimization, and procurement of complete Distributed Energy Systems (DES), with a special focus on industrial microgrids. In this series, we talk with some of the passionate, high-performance team members who are making this happen.
Tristan Jackson is VECKTA’s Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer. He combines his deep experience in team building, communication, and problem solving, with technical expertise, tenacity, and excitement for breaking new ground as we co-create the VECKTA Energy Transition Platform.
Meet Tristan Jackson
How did you get into the energy sector?
I have always loved working with energy systems. During undergrad at Cornell, I became president of a student group working on decarbonizing the campus and worked with the university administration to find ways of reducing carbon emissions while also saving money. That was over 20 years ago now and Cornell Climate Justice is still an active group that has inspired dozens of other universities to do the same, and has helped Cornell save millions of dollars and even more millions of tons of CO2. What motivated me then is what still is most important to me today: improving our systems and restoring balance in the biosphere to ensure a survivable and thriving future for the entire population of this planet.
You take a very global view of problem-solving. Has that influenced where you have pursued education and work experience?
Yes—I’m an international citizen—originally from the US, I went to live and work in South America when I was 15 and have since traveled, lived, and worked in the Americas, Europe, Africa and the Middle East, I’m currently living in Toronto, Canada. I began working on distributed energy systems as a home-schooled teenager, completed a double-major at Cornell University in psychology and sociology, and an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management. I have built teams, developed energy systems, consulted, and led strategy over the past 15 years both independently and working with some of the largest companies in the energy sector.
What’s your current focus with VECKTA?
As CSO, my team engages with the market, developing business and supporting the success of our clients and partners, and we specify the product features that the Design and software Development teams build into our Market Platform. I also work with the team to set the overall strategy and direction of the company, and I lead, mentor, and support all the members of my team. Currently, our focus is onsite hybrid energy systems for large industrial energy users, campuses, utilities, and remote communities.
What are the most important skills to have in your field?
A humble attitude, self-reflection, and interpersonal skills. Technical skills also matter but they are table stakes and there are many technically competent, or even technically brilliant, people in the world. What differentiates our company is the ability of the leadership to foster an environment where all team members are inspired to bring out their best. Those same interpersonal skills are also the most important thing for engaging with clients and partners.
What advice would you give to someone pursuing a career like yours?
There is no shortage of work to do in the Energy Transition. In fact, accomplishing the incredible task ahead of us to decarbonize our energy systems and adapt to climate disruption will take more of us working together than perhaps any other undertaking in the history of humanity so far. And creating new ventures is a key part of that. So, there is plenty of opportunity and plenty of room for everyone who wants to get involved. However, that does not mean everyone should start their own company.
Studies have shown that as many as 60% of Millennials either already self-identify as an entrepreneur or think they will become one. That’s not realistic; the math doesn’t work out. Also, over 90% of start-ups fail. Starting a new company is harder than people who haven’t tried it tend to think. So definitely jump in and get involved, we need all the hands and minds we can get, but consider looking for who is already doing great work and joining them, rather than starting from scratch. And if you are going to lead a new startup, focus on serving your people—team, clients, and partners—they are always more important than your technology.
What is the biggest challenge this industry is facing, and how is VECKTA overcoming it?
Energy systems can be very complicated. For any energy demand larger than a regular house, building an energy system that can self-power on site, freeing it from grid blackouts, and do that with little to no carbon footprint, is a difficult engineering challenge. Assessing technology options, designing least-cost, best-fit systems, and bringing together the different equipment, builders, and investors to deliver a complete solution is time-consuming and hard to do well. VECKTA solves these challenges by using the world’s most advanced energy system design and optimization software, and by providing a market platform where large commercial and industrial energy customers can procure a complete solution customized for their facility and operations.
Which VECKTA value resonates most strongly with you and how do you live that out?
Empower Co-Creation. Internally, I always make sure to encourage everyone to have equal say, avoid giving orders, and ask everyone’s opinion. Externally, we provide the tools and platform to support others in working together. We include free training and we freely share ideas and expertise to improve the skills and understanding of all involved. I stay curious and do not assume I know the answers, work to ensure all perspectives are heard, and focus on being “tough on the problem, easy on the people”. My team knows they can bring up to me anything at all, that I will listen carefully, and that I will take their views seriously.
What’s your biggest win so far?
I once made a proposal of marriage to the most amazing woman I’ve ever met. She said yes!
Congratulations on the big win, Tristan!
We’re excited to have Tristan blazing the trail! If you want to work with Tristan and the rest of our team of innovators co-creating a more sustainable and profitable energy future, check out our current career opportunities.