Josh Newell ’17

Josh Newell ’17

Student Profile: Getting a Jump-start to a Career in Solar Energy

Josh Newell ’17 was able to jump start a career in the solar energy sector through two opportunities supported by the Tamer Center for Social Enterprise. In the fall of 2015, Newell, along with a small cohort of other MBAs, worked on a pro bono consulting project as part of the Pangea program. He and his classmates helped an off-grid solar firm in Cambodia by conducting financial analysis and developing strategies for the new and growing company.

Newell’s group worked on the financial components of their assignment from New York City, adding carefully calculated figures to the Cambodians’ local expertise. At the end of the project, they travelled abroad to use their knowledge from the classroom on the ground. At the end of their assignment, Newell and his team had turned ideas into a practical model that allowed the company to raise money and accelerate their growth.

Newell’s Pangea experience was a foray into how to build a bridge between business and social endeavors. This inspired him to continue working in the solar industry. In the summer of 2016, Newell worked as a Social Enterprise Summer Fellow for SolarKal, a solar energy broker for businesses that converts their clients from energy users to power generators. He continued to intern with them during the summer of 2017. During his internship, Newell wore many hats at SolarKal, namely improving product development to streamline the company’s process while meeting the needs of clients. At every step of the way, Newell ensured that SolarKal was an effective middleman between solar energy firms and businesses looking to produce their own power. In June 2017, Newell began a full-time role as director of product at SolarKal.

Because of processes that Newell implemented at SolarKal, the company can structurally go through trial and error at a faster pace. He credits his Columbia Business School education for these skills and the opportunity to learn from classmates in the energy sector in both a social and professional context. Before business school, Newell worked at the World Bank on infrastructure projects in the Middle East, and now plans to continue in that field, with a more directed focus towards the booming solar industry. 

By Sophie Drew