Unreasonable Impact | Solving the World’s Biggest Challenges: LanzaTech

Oct 2, 2017 9:50 AM ET
Campaign: Entrepreneurs

Originally published on Barclays

How did you end up at LanzaTech?

At the time biotech was really hot, so recruiters would always call and ask if I wanted to be CEO of this or that company, and I always said no. I wanted to retire when I was 50. That was something my husband and I had decided to do. One day, a recruiter called about this company, LanzaTech. It was really bizarre because I’d never heard of it, even though I knew every company in the sector at that point. I said: ‘I’m not looking for a job’, but I dug into it and saw that it was a really cool platform. The more I learned about the company, the more excited I got. I could understand it the minute I saw it because I knew the power of carbon monoxide and hydrogen. When somebody said: ‘We have a bug that can eat carbon monoxide’, I said: ‘You’re kidding me, right? And it doesn’t need hydrogen? And it’s contaminant resistant?’. I thought: ‘Oh man, if we can make this work, this is super cool.’

Why is working on this problem so important to you?

I think the greenhouse gas issue is a crisis. Every year, we see it get worse, and it’s going to get worse fast. I have a problem not trying to do something about that. And I’m very fortunate because I get to work on a technology to solve that problem and show the world that you can take carbon and turn it from a liability into an opportunity. But the other reason is because, as much as I hate public speaking and being with people, I can get up and give presentations in a lot of venues. Even if I impact five people in a room, they can start thinking about greenhouse gasses and maybe remember to turn out the lights that day. Then, I’ll have done something.

What’s been the biggest triumph along this journey?

I don’t know that there’s been some big thing. Every week, we think there’s something that is a good achievement, and we have a lot of fun. I always write notes to the team, and I remember once I wrote: ‘We’re on the road to awesome. It’s not paved, but I can assure you the view will be really great at the top.’ So we’re just all looking forward to seeing the view.

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