San Francisco Business Times recognized UC Berkeley alumnus Sheldon Kimber as one of the Bay Area’s “40 Under 40” business leaders on Thursday.
The annual “40 Under 40” awards aim to recognize 40 young Bay Area business leaders who make significant contributions to their industries. This year, Kimber, the chief operating officer for Recurrent Energy, received the award for developing solar power as a competitive energy source in the Bay Area.
“It’s recognition for seven years of my life,” Kimber said. “Most people go into business and think it’s going to be rock-star glamorous, but it hasn’t really been that way. For the last seven years, we’ve worked our butts off.”
Kimber graduated in 2007 with an MBA in finance from the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business. Following graduation, he joined Recurrent Energy, a solar project developer, where he was promoted to the role of vice president of finance after only 18 months.
“I hold him up to my current students as an example of how to succeed in the energy space,” said Haas professor Severin Borenstein, who taught Kimber in a business course in spring 2006. “This is an industry where people are selling ‘green’ more than reality. He’s someone who tells it like it is, and that’s why he’s so valuable.”
Kimber noted that his time at Haas gave him the opportunity to transform his career. While at UC Berkeley, Kimber co-founded the Berkeley Energy and Resources Collaborative, for which he now serves as an advisory board member.
“There are a lot of articles I’ve been reading about what a bad investment business school is and how you can get a better return networking,” Kimber said. “Yet the piece left out is that business school is a time for reflection on yourself.”
BERC aims to tackle energy and environmental challenges by connecting a network of students, faculty and professionals in the fields of energy and resources. To date, the group has nearly 3,000 members.
“You can make anything happen,” Kimber said, noting UC Berkeley’s high degree of student initiative. “You have places like Stanford that have more top-down control, but I really liked being part of Berkeley because we didn’t need a lot of direction, and we were able to build a very lasting element to the energy offerings on campus.”
When asked about what advice he would give to current business students, Kimber emphasized how important it is to “block and tackle,” or learn practical business-building skills.
“A lot of people come into business school wanting to be big visionary entrepreneurs,” he said. “Understanding the vision is more about the depth of understanding of basics and hard work.”