Clean Energy Entrepreneur shares how he turned his passion for the environment into a career to better the planet – with Co-founder of CoPower, David Berliner
Born and raised in Montreal, Canada, this clean energy entrepreneur shares his passion for the environment, outdoors and nature. Meet David Berliner, the Co-founder and Managing Director of CoPower. Growing up spending his summers at wilderness camps, David recalls how those moments instilled in him a deep passion for the environment, fueling his drive to create one of Canada’s leading green investment companies. David shares with us some great advice on the space and how you too can fuel your passion.
What advice do you have for others looking to get into the social impact sector?
- Be a good human, and especially, be good to the people around you.. Looking back at the number of connections that are now helping me succeed in my career and life, I am so thankful that I wasn’t a jerk (because those things can come back to you in a negative way down the road). So treat people well and enter into interactions asking not “what can I take” but “what can I give.”
- Learn how to work well in groups. The world’s biggest challenges are multifaceted and need a lot of different people with a lot of different skills to tackle them. You can’t be a lone wolf trying to solve all these problems. You need to work well with other people and working in groups is a skill worth improving!
Doing 1 and 2 will often open up opportunities that you don’t even know exist It was these types of situations, along with being in the right place at the right time, that led to my first job offer to work in sustainability at the University of Toronto.
What is CoPower in a nutshell?
CoPower helps you put the planet in your portfolio. We do that by creating green investment products that are available to buy on our online investment platform. Our flagship product is the CoPower Green Bond which make loans to build more green energy projects across Canada, for example, geoexchange projects for buildings, solar panel projects, or LED retrofits. Over the past 5 years, we’ve helped deploy more than 25 million dollars of loans to build these great projects across Canada!
What inspired you to start CoPower and what do you hope to achieve?
I was inspired to start CoPower, first and foremost out of my core passion for the environment and wanting to help solve climate change. Early in my career, I found that clean energy finance offered many interesting challenges and was a field where my skill set could really make a difference… Through CoPower wanted to be part of helping more people invest in clean energy and in that way mobilize more capital to get more clean energy projects off the ground. Today we have nearly 800 investors across Canada that are making investments that match their values and that support the clean energy transition.
Rapid Fire Questions:
My first job ever was…
running the “Montreal branch” of a medical supply leasing company which was actually me at the age of 16 in my parents’ basement. I was still in high school and would get phone calls during class so I would have to sneak out of math and speak to clients in the hallway in the best French I could muster up. Then I’d show up a couple of days later in my parents’ car to deliver this medical equipment for people to use for a week. It taught me a lot about how to treat clients well and how to be organized as an entrepreneur.
Most people don’t know that I…feel my best when I am rock climbing. What’s unique about rock climbing and bouldering is that it’s something you have to be fully focused on mentally, allowing you to block out everything else. It’s also physically challenging and that mix is a really nice balance.
The skills and resources that I rely on most for my job are…people skills. Learn how to sit with different people, whether they’re your teammates, new clients, or people you are negotiating with and really try and understand what’s driving them. Don’t just understand what it is you want out of that interaction but what do they want. Knowing where they are coming will help you succeed in working together!
The best piece of advice I ever received is…lyrics from the Grateful Dead song: “Nothing left to do but smile, smile, smile.” There are all types of situations and challenges that get thrown our way. It’s how we react to them and what we make of them that shapes who we are!
Advice I have for others looking for a career in social impact…show up as your genuine self. Be kind and treat people like humans and opportunities will come.
My greatest productivity tip is…before diving into work in the morning, I like to take a couple of minutes to be intentional about my day.hat are the most important things for me to focus on? What would make the day great? Be mindful for a minute before diving into all of the emails, Slack messages and work.
The book that has had the greatest impact on me…related to the field of clean energy, Jigar Shah Creating Climate Wealth. He talks about how to invest in the planet. Also A New Earth: Awakening Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle which is really about a personal inward journey that, especially in entrepreneurship, is so important to think about and be mindful of.
The biggest problem the world needs to solve in the next decade is…climate change!