Jessie Robbins: Director, Structured Finance, Sol Systems

Jessie Robbins entered the solar industry to pursue a lifelong interest in energy and environmental issues. She joined Sol Systems as her first job out of college, then rose through the ranks to become director of structured finance. While she does not have a traditional finance background, she was able to take the initiative and learn these skills on the job. She notes that the opportunity for advancement is one of the big advantages of this dynamic and growing industry.

“The good thing about solar is it is growing quickly,” she says. “Name a discipline that you find interesting, you can find a way to do it within the solar industry. The diversity of skills needed is really astounding. For others looking to go into solar, my advice is to figure out what skill set you have and then work strategically to develop it.”

Jessie oversees tax equity and other structured transactions for solar installations. Her job requires her to build relationships with clients and then initiate, execute, and finally close deals. The job involves a heavy amount of number crunching and analysis, but there’s a lot of interaction as well. “A large element of the job is definitely relationship building.”

Jessie cultivates tax equity investors, such as banks and Fortune 500 companies, to monetize the tax benefits of a solar project when the developer doesn’t have sufficient tax liability. “We’re very focused on bringing in capital to the solar industry that would not otherwise invest in solar. So that’s exciting. These investors are looking for a certain financial outcome, but I think the fact that the investment also has a social benefit is positive as well.”

For Jessie, the best part of the job is the “endlessly fascinating, smart, exciting people” she works with at Sol Systems and across the industry. “I think the solar industry attracts passionate people who care about the environmental benefits and social benefits of solar, but also are just excited about the new frontier in an emerging industry.”