Marina Shapiro: Chief Financial Officer at Nautilus Solar Energy

Marina Shapiro is the chief financial officer for Nautilus Solar Energy, a New Jersey-based company that develops, finances, and constructs distributed solar projects throughout North America. Marina joined the company back in 2009, when it was a team of three, and she has remained a core team member as Nautilus grew to 30 employees.

“I came from traditional public accounting. What attracted me to Nautilus was the fact that it was a small company and it was in renewable energy, which I was interested in, and the company was able to create a lot of jobs through its projects,” Marina says. “The space has been challenging and volatile at times, but it has allowed me the opportunity to work through the challenges and see firsthand how solar projects benefit the communities across the country. When you combine financial, mathematical, and traditional accounting skills, and understanding the tax code, you are able to create value for your customers. And I love our customers!”

Marina enjoys that her job allows her to creatively problem solve and get involved in every step of the project development and finance process.

“In my job I handle every facet of finance within the company, including both the financial aspects of the projects and the company’s finances. We have deployed more than $750 million of capital into solar projects, and I am responsible for raising, structuring, and deploying this capital. I have to put the pieces of the puzzle together, from engineering to construction to working with banks. I sit in the midst of the storm and ensure that all of those elements are working together so that a project can be successful.”

As one of her company’s earliest employees, Marina has witnessed the solar industry’s tremendous job growth as opportunities expanded for professionals with varied backgrounds and skill sets. When pursuing a career in solar, Marina notes that a strong work ethic is one of the most important qualities to possess.

“Perseverance and hard work are necessary. This is a highly rewarding, growing industry, but it’s very challenging and you have to be willing to learn on the job. You might walk in and say ‘I don’t know,’ and that’s okay. After 10 years, I am still figuring things out and learning myself. An important component here is wanting to problem solve and being willing to learn as you go. Working for a smaller company is beneficial because you get exposure to everything, from development, to construction, finance, and asset management. Our team members really get to experience it all.”