Let’s get the news out of the way, so we can get to the opining … After 14 years of helping build Tigercomm into the top clean economy marcom and public affairs firm, our Executive Vice President Mark Sokolove is leaving for a can't-refuse job at Hanwha Q CELLS America as Marketing Director. Mark’s last day with us is Friday, July 2.
It’s an emotional time for me. I’ve worked side by side with Mark for well over a third of my career. I’ll bet he and I have talked 30-40 times a week throughout that time (thank you Lee Leshem, for putting up with intrusions!). How many people in one’s life can you say that about?
Wise, reliable, unflappable, super competent, loyal, the favorite of clients who appreciated the steady hand of humble skill and competence. As he took a leadership position with our firm, Mark was the guard rail of common sense and business discipline at our firm.
At 56, I'm finding that more and more of my job satisfaction comes through nurturing the talent among our firm’s staff members. They come to us with talent and drive, I input as best I can. Though I couldn’t tell you how well I’ve done by them, I’ve gotten to see these amazing professionals grow, advance, expand their thinking and lean into the impact they’re having at a sustainability-focused firm.
Even with our firm’s high retention and long tenures, many of our rock stars eventually leave. They become the digital strategist for a global robotics company, a large NGO’s national press secretary, the corporate communications director for a global satellite company, a large-state governor’s communications director, the head of communications for a national IT provider, and the lead communicator for a multi-billion-dollar federal program. I could go on, but suffice to say that our alumni are an impressive bunch.
As a firm owner, when talented people leave, I feel pride mixed with a managed panic that’s akin to ancient Christians standing in the Colosseum’s holding pen. But every time we have had a strong employee leave, Mark has always made the same point: We’ll end up being stronger for it, even if we don’t know what that looks like right now.
You know what? He’s always been right on that.
I am still not totally clear why. All I know is it’s got something to do with how great employees make their company smarter on how to run accounts, attract new business, upgrade operations and attract new talent. Yes, all these rock star alumni left a hole behind, but they left us much more skilled at filling holes that are more attractive to the new people who went on to fill them.
Mark’s about to leave a hole. To his long-standing point, though, we’re already well along in conversations with several impressive people to take his position (please DM me if you want to discuss). I expect we’ll have some exciting announcements in the weeks ahead on personnel, not just for Mark’s position, but for several other expansion hires for which we’re currently interviewing to handle our current growth.
But Mark’s new job conveys a bigger truth for cleantech. In the 2000s and the early 2010s, many of our early employees left for non-cleantech jobs, in part because there weren’t that many cleantech jobs to move up into.
Now, it’s different.
Being a communicator in this space is no longer an odd thing to do for a living. Since Mark joined us, it’s become something that communications talent want to do, not something you have to talk them into. And I’ve noticed how much more communications talent now resides in cleantech, how much higher the talent levels are, and how many more communicators from other sectors want to get into clean economy communications. The very fact that a talent like Mark is moving up within the sector is another barometer reading showing favorable weather ahead for cleantech, and for our firm.
Mark, my friend, I’m sure I’ll be tempted to call you 10 times a day for the next several months to ask everything from the location of a file to your advice on a big strategic question. How about I just keep it to a few times a week, so you can keep crushing it for cleantech? This country, this planet and the future cleantechers still in elementary school all need folks like you to succeed.
Go, man, go. We’ll be running right alongside you in this happily growing group of marathoners.