The story of the scale up of the carbon dioxide removal (CDR) industry is dominated by numbers: an estimated 3–12 gigatons of CO₂ removed every year by 2050. An economy-wide emissions reduction of at least 90% by 2050, combined with the removal of the remaining, unavoidable 10% of emissions.

Behind the numbers, one of the most essential building blocks of the journey to gigaton scale is hardly ever in the spotlight, namely the talents and their expertise that are actually needed to make this industry deployment at scale a reality.

Designing, testing, and operating direct air capture (DAC) facilities, evaluating potential project sites, building and nurturing relationships with key stakeholders — in all of these fields and more, DAC companies like Climeworks need to bring together talents who are able to navigate and develop an industry that has only just begun to exist. The challenge of reaching gigaton removal capacity by 2050 is therefore inevitably a challenge of bringing in the right talents.

What’s most exciting is that more and more people are considering to enter the industry, as the benefits of working in the growing CDR space, or climate action more broadly, are increasingly sought-after. For many people, it’s a whole new opportunity to put the skills they developed throughout their career, studies or research into positive climate action.

In the past months, we’ve encountered several stories of people who have left their coveted positions at large enterprises in exchange for a new career path in the climate sector, as reported by CNBC and Protocol for example. A purpose-driven company that enables you to work on novel challenges and have a real positive impact, this is what we want to build and scale

Since Climeworks was founded in 2009, the team has grown to 250 Climeworkers who stand behind our vision to inspire 1 billion people to remove CO₂ from the air. We’re proud to have built one of the strongest groups of DAC experts to date, and intend to continue doing so. Some of them experienced the transformation of the CDR industry over the past years first hand, some are bringing in extremely valuable skills from other industries.

And at Executive Team level, this is reflected with three key leaders being recently announced: Douglas Chan joined Climeworks as Chief Operations Officer, Jan Huckfeldt as Chief Commercial Officer, while Christoph Beuttler became Chief Climate Policy Officer.

The role of COO at Climeworks has brought Douglas’ “career carbon footprint” full circle after working as an engineer at Exxon, Field Service Representative at Solar Turbines Australia, and Director at Tesla. In his previous position at Tesla, Douglas already managed the manufacturing and roll-out of a new technology but in his role at Climeworks, he’s taking on a broader challenge: creating an industry that does not yet exist at scale. Douglas now oversees the operations of Climeworks’ plants and is looking after the structuring of the supply chain, project execution and production teams that we need to scale our technology.

On the other side of the coin, Jan steers our corporate partnerships to cater to the growing demand for Climeworks’ high-quality CDR service. During his career, Jan has collected more than 20 years of marketing and sales experience at leading global companies like Procter & Gamble, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo and Motorola. As a founder of consulting start-ups and previous Chairman of the Advisory Board at fintech company Ledger, he combines his functional skills with extensive industry knowledge.

Christoph Beuttler has been an integral member of the Climeworks team for more than four years. First as CDR Manager and then Head of Climate Policy, he has continuously shaped our policy efforts. Now, in the Climate Policy team, he and his team support the discussions around public policies that are needed to scale up high-quality carbon removal solutions. In addition to his work at Climeworks, Christoph is President of the Negative Emissions Platform and Member of the Board of Directors of CO₂ Value Europe.

Together, Douglas, Jan and Christoph bring in a powerful combination of expertise to tackle the challenges of an emerging market where corporate demand far outstrips supply.

By operating the world’s first, and until now, only direct air capture and storage (DAC+S) facility “Orca”, Climeworks has taken one of the most decisive steps in its scale-up journey already. With Orca, we’ve deployed our technology under real-life conditions, collecting field experience to inform the development and construction of our next DAC+S facility, “Mammoth”. This is both a testament to the success of the decade-long work of the Climeworks team and a reminder that we only just passed the first few kilometers of the marathon towards gigaton.

To reach the next stage of the marathon, we rely on our two proven core strengths: creating a global Climeworks team that is connected by its dedication to purpose and drive to inspire at scale, and taking fast, iterative steps to continuously scale our modular technology based on learnings from the field.

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