[vc_row][vc_column width="1/1"][vc_column_text] This is the Part II of our two-part interview with Tom George of Persistent Energy Partners (PEP), a clean-energy focused impact investor in sub-Saharan Africa, as a follow up to our our E+Co Case Study event with Bruce Usher in April. Here, Tom talks about what it’s like to be a millennial at his dream job and provides insight into how he landed it. See Part I of the series here.
Inspiring Capital: What’s your role at PEP?
Tom George: I am lucky to have a fairly diverse role. I direct the financial operations of PEP and the funds we manage. I also work with our Managing Partners to manage and analyze our portfolio. PEP has been building its research and analysis presence, and I work with our Managing Partners to research and write articles and papers. Finally, I direct most of our operational odds and ends, the things we're too small to have someone working full-time on, such as HR and marketing.
IC: What’s the best part about your job?
TG: There's never a dull moment at PEP, and working here is incredibly fun and a great learning experience. The best part of my job is being a part of such an innovative organization. I am highly bullish about the opportunity that PEP is targeting; so working with a team that shares my vision is a privilege. PEP has a unique and, I think, very advanced view of the market we are targeting and the characteristics of businesses that will grow to be successful in it. Learning from the rest of the PEP team and continually refining my understanding of how to grow these businesses is a phenomenally rewarding experience and a true pleasure.
IC: How does it feel to be working at your dream job?
TG: It’s awesome! I feel truly lucky to be working at PEP. In addition to what I said above, that I’m excited by PEP’s goal and our drive to reach it, PEP also has a great team and culture. Our vision of what we can achieve aside, the reason I like coming to work in the morning is because I get to work with some of the smartest and most interesting people I know. I learn new things from them every day, and together I think we are building something great.
IC: You landed this job right after graduating from college. How did you do it?
TG: In my last year of college, I knew that I wanted to work for either an emerging markets- or renewables-focused investor. So during that year, I tried to meet or talk to as many people in one of those sectors as I could. As I learned more and more about the sectors and the organizations in them, I started sending emails to the general “info@____” or “careers@____” email addresses I found on organizations’ websites. In the emails I would say something like, “Hey, do you have any job or internship openings right now? If not, can I talk with someone from your firm to learn more about what you do?” I probably sent out about 200 of them, and got maybe 10 responses. One of the responses I got was from PEP, which decided to test me slowly with research projects on an informal basis. After a couple of months they offered me an internship in their New York office, and after another month or two as an intern here, they hired me into a full-time position.
IC: What advice would you give to fellow millennials looking for a job in impact investing?
TG: I don’t mean to be nomenclaturally pedantic, but I think persistence can go a long way. Looking for a job can be a numbers game – I sent 200 emails and got only 10 responses out of them. But I kept at it because I was determined to find the right gig, and eventually it paid off. The process can take months – not only did I send out those emails when I was looking, but I was also talking with people, reading and learning as much as I could, working on my resume and writing cover letters to apply for positions I saw listed online, thinking hard about how best to sell myself to a potential employer, &c. It took about six months of searching before I had an offer I was really interested in (PEP’s). But all that searching paid off, and actually, because of it, I have a decent breadth of knowledge of other organizations working in fields I’m interested in. It was frustrating and definitely not fun, but all told it was worth it. If you’re searching right now, keep at it! And good luck.