Martha Goodell (M.S., Class of 2014) loves finding creative solutions to complex challenges.
“I’ve always been a problem solver,” she says. A passion for problem solving and an early interest in art drove Martha to pursue a degree in architecture as an undergraduate student at the University of Colorado Boulder in the early 90s. Architects, Martha says, solve puzzles. They are tasked with designing buildings that meet the needs of occupants within the constraints of limited space and resources. Martha believed a career as an architect would be the perfect way to connect her enthusiasm for problem solving with her love for art.
However, once on the job with a firm in Washington, D.C., she quickly found herself drawn toward the business side of architecture. “Architecture is both a physical and a financial asset,” she says. Intrigued by the complexity of investment decisions and analytics required for the construction of large real estate assets, Martha decided to return to school and pursue an M.B.A. in finance.
Martha graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s College of Business in 1993 and headed straight to Chicago to work as an investment officer with Bank of America. Later, she was recruited to Ernst & Young (EY) to join their financial services practice as a senior consultant. Over the next decade, Martha continued to build her career as a business consultant and specialist in investment analytics at both EY and Capgemini — two of the world’s most prominent consultancies.
After nearly twenty years in the business world, Martha grew thirsty for something new. She wondered how she could use her expertise as an investment analyst to contribute to society and make a real difference. “I was fascinated by the bridge between environmental topics and business and investing,” she says. Frustrated by what she saw as a divide between “tree huggers” and “business people,” she decided to look into graduate school programs that would give her both the scientific and technical training she needed to employ the business tools she understood so well to solve some of today’s most pressing environmental problems. “There is a point on this bridge where we all have to meet,” she says. The key for her new focus was to improve her understanding of the economics of scientific drivers.
Martha says she was drawn to the Nelson Institute’s Environment and Resources program specifically because she could pursue a certificate in Energy Analysis and Policy (EAP). She believed the EAP program was a perfect fit due to both the flexibility and multidisciplinarity of the curriculum. She was also excited about the diversity of student experiences represented in EAP. “What I loved about EAP, very specifically, was that I was never in a class where I wasn’t blown away by the people next to me,” she explains.
After graduating with a Master’s of Science in 2014, Martha immediately put her EAP training to work. She started to vet investment opportunities in the clean tech sector on behalf of Hyde Park Angels, a “very well-organized and structured investment club” she joined in 2010. Given her background and technical training in investment analytics and energy economics, Martha has established herself as a leader within the group when it comes to investing in clean technology. “I’m the person that gets called for the clean tech deals,” she says.
Martha recently established her own freelance clean energy consulting company, Goodell Consulting, LLC. “It’s the best thing I’ve done,” she says. Martha works for a number of different clients interested in investing in clean energy. Her goal is to support her clients in “completing due diligence on clean energy projects to determine investment potential.”
Martha loves her job as an entrepreneur. She describes each day as “organized chaos,” but also says she’s having fun running her own business and putting her problem-solving skills to work each day. “No one has a boiler-plate answer for investing. You figure it out as you go along,” she explains.
Martha credits her successful launch of Goodell Consulting to her EAP training and depth of previous experiences, and she’s played a vital role in revitalizing EAP outreach and engagement efforts this past year. Martha is a member of the EAP Alumni Planning Committee, and she hosted a networking session for speakers and sponsors at the 2015 Energy Summit. She would like to see these new initiatives become “perpetual” and help build the brand name of EAP in the months ahead.
We really appreciate all of Martha’s work engaging our community, and are inspired by her dedication to bridging the gap between business and environmentalism. She really is one amazing problem solver.