The name Columbia means something different for every student and affiliate of the University. ForErika Whillas, Chief Product Officer of the sustainability consultancy CoClear, Columbia was both an inspiration for an unexpected direction in her studies and a meeting ground for the beginning of an exciting startup career. Hailing from Australia, Whillas was pursuing an MPA in the School of International and Public Affairs when she met Sally Paridis—also an Aussie and a graduate student in the Sustainability Management program—in an Industrial Ecology class. Paridis, who had been mapping out an idea about a sustainability startup for a while, found the perfect partner in Whillas, an information architect with a web production background and a newfound interest in climate and energy politics upon studying at Columbia. The professor of the Industrial Ecology class that brought them together, Dr. Christoph Meinrenken, also joined the team as chief data scientist. In 2011, CoClear, the brainchild of their collaboration, was finally launched.
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