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Case Studies

Global Sustainable Infrastructure Association

Chief Executive Officer

Paris COP 21 aligned INDC commitments at nation state level combined with sub-national level commitments like the Climate Mayors (cities, states/regions) - where much of the world’s infrastructure is built/funded - are tail winds which will drive a major shift towards sustainability in infrastructure projects in the coming years.

Given public (and private) investor need to assess hyper-long duration infrastructure assets for ESG risk-resilience as they make mega-sized 20-50 year investments, the infrastructure sector faces mounting pressure for unified, credible, and scalable, sustainability standards. 

"Special thanks for your leadership in bringing us extraordinary candidates so rapidly and helping us through negotiations in such a capable manner. Any one of these 3 finalists would have made a wonderful CEO for us." 

​We were commissioned by the Board of the world’s leading non-profit dedicated to sustainable infrastructure, the Institute For Sustainable Infrastructure, to find their new President/CEO. ISI is partnered with Harvard's Zofnass program to create the gold standard and ratings tool for sustainable infrastructure.


The brief was for a leader to take the organization from a successful start-up phase into maturity, driving rapid membership and revenue growth, global standard recognition and tool uptake.

Within 6 weeks of initiation, we provided 3 outstanding finalist candidates. An offer was made to the Board's first choice candidate and accepted within 9 weeks from search start. The finalists consisted of:

​i) A former Bush and Obama White House senior climate / infrastructure advising executive, with international thought leadership recognition and high-ranking cross-aisle White House, Federal Agency, state and city networks, as well as a strong private sector career as a leader in the sustainability practice of one of the world’s leading infrastructure advisory firms.

ii) Elon Musk’s chief legal officer at SolarCity – who had driven solar legislative success across every major state, with a 95% winning track record, enabling solar to gain footholds against obstructive utilities in all major markets over a 7-year stint at the fast-growth start-up. This was a key skill-set for ISI's new CEO - to be strategic and politically savvy - with the potential to get sustainability standards embedded in infrastructure spending bills and regulations in various levels and contexts. Formerly this candidate had grown two expansion stage environmental non-profits, growing membership 5-fold and revenues 10-fold, and spearheaded the 8-year solar tax credit extension during the Bush administration. (Given his highly relevant growth leadership and infrastructure political abilities, this candidate was the ultimate selection by the Board).

iii) A leader in city and ecosystem service infrastructure who had previously led related efforts at one of the world’s top 3 nature conservation NGOs, and sustainability at a large national member association. This innovative finalist choice reflected the fact that many of the critical services required for resiliency in infrastructure in major coastal city scenarios (such as flood defenses for cities against major storm surges e.g. Katrina/New Orleans and Sandy/New Jersey), are most effectively provided by nature-based systems (mangrove swamps, wetlands, permeable green flooding areas).

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