Getting to know Persefoni: Meet Kevin Stephen
1. And you may ask yourself, "Well... how did I get here?" (Tell us your journey?)
I’m a Jersey boy through and through, but after growing up rural, I’m now reluctantly adjusting to city life. Born and raised in central New Jersey (yes, it exists) near Princeton, I made the parks and tiny neighborhoods of that area my home until college. As a kid, I had to grow up fast–I am the oldest of seven kids, with five little brothers and a baby sister who’s 15 years younger than me. I also grew up outside. Back when Miley Cyrus and Flo-Rida were on the radio, you could find me zipping around Branchburg, NJ on my bicycle and playing baseball in the backyard. My passion for all things outdoors would later translate into an academic interest in climate, but in the meantime I grew up as a Boy Scout and an athlete, spending weekends distance running, camping, and kayaking. My first real opportunity to explore the climate field came during the New Jersey Scholars Program in summer 2015, where 38 other students and I spent a summer living at the Lawrenceville School and taking an interdisciplinary approach to the study of climate change. That summer and its learnings would stick with me for years to come.
When my high school days came to an end almost six years ago, I ventured north to Boston for college and studied Applied Math & Computer Science at Harvard, with a secondary in Government. At Harvard, my proudest achievement was my time as president of Harvard’s tech & sustainability consulting group, Harvard CBE. I led the organization to scale from a small student club with a handful of members to one that regularly advised Fortune 50 clients and funded awesome sustainability-focused projects on campus. But my happiest times at college were when I was singing with the Harvard Krokodiloes, the university’s oldest a cappella group and the source of some of my best memories and friendships to this date. I also nurtured my interest in the climate space in Cambridge, interning for a semester with current White House National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy and ultimately writing my undergraduate thesis in climate science, about the feasibility of optimization methods in mitigating the negative side effects of geoengineering. My college career unceremoniously came to an end right at the start of the pandemic, but the memories are vivid and fond.
After college I was slated to start at Bain & Company’s New York office in the summer of 2020, but when Bain pushed back our start dates for pandemic reasons, I took the opportunity to find a role as the Northeast Regional Calls Manager on the Biden campaign’s national staff. The job was the most intense I’ve ever had, but it was also a ton of fun, and I hoped one day to find my way back into the policy world. After the campaign wrapped up I started at Bain as an Associate Consultant and have worked in the healthcare industry as well as in Bain’s private equity group. Earlier this year, I was hunting for 6-month externship opportunities from Bain, in which Bain consultants “go abroad” for six months to another company and then come back to finish their consulting stints. In my search I met Terryn Lawrence, Tim Mohin, and the awesome team at Persefoni, and I’m so excited to be joining the firm.
2. And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile. (What do you do at Persefoni?)
I work in strategy on Persefoni’s Sustainability Team, working with Tim Mohin, Kristina Wyatt, Mike Wallace, and the rest of our talented group on climate disclosure policy and product strategy. Much of my role thus far has focused on helping our firm strategically navigate the landscape of emerging climate-related disclosure regulations around the world, from the SEC’s proposed rules in the U.S. to the EU CSRD regulation, its counterpart in the UK, and beyond. I have also been helping our team build brand awareness and thought leadership in the climate disclosure space through outbound content, most recently with the publishing of my new climate blog and a couple of policy papers that are in the works.
3. And you may ask yourself, "Where does that highway go to?" (What are your hopes for your time at Persefoni?
The climate regulation and competitive landscape is at an inflection point, and as a leader in that space, we will continue to set the standard for carbon tracking and management for the rest of the industry. I see my role over the next six months as one that helps our team do so by translating regulatory changes into strategic evolution, from product strategy to go-to-market. While I’m only here a short time, I hope to continue to work with our awesome sustainability team and branch out to help other teams at the firm as well. I have also gained some invaluable mentors in Tim, Kristina, Mike, and the rest of the team, and I hope to learn as much from them as possible as someone just starting out their career in the climate space.
As Kentaro often says, Persefoni is just the first of many climate tech startups that will address the carbon disclosure and mitigation problem for companies worldwide. I hope to take the experience I gain from Persefoni to make more impact in the climate startup space after my time at Bain.
4. And you may say to yourself, "My God! What have I done?" (Why is Persefoni a great home for you?)
Easily the team. My colleagues at Persefoni embody what it means to be both passionate about a mission like climate and practical about how to work towards it each day. Tim and Kristina endure withering travel schedules with ease and balance it with the content and strategy they push out week to week. Mike is a power train on the partnerships side of things, and I have been lucky to work with him. Caitlin’s work on the podcast is awe-inspiring, and Anissa is a brilliant colleague and the brains behind our policy efforts. Their energy is contagious, and their knowledge of what needs to be done to get us closer to net-zero targets focuses our team’s efforts and allows us to collaborate at breakneck pace.
The company’s culture is also a huge added benefit of the job. As a transplant from a firm that hugely emphasizes “Bain culture” and camaraderie among colleagues, I was pleasantly surprised to experience belonging and friendship at our firm, even in a fully remote work environment.
5. And you may find yourself in another part of the world... (Tell us about your life/hobbies away from work?)
My love for the outdoors tends to dictate most of my hobbies outside of work. I love hiking and backpacking, and my favorite activity on an off-day is to drive out of the city and go on a hike with friends or solo–I have found this much harder to do in New York than in Boston, where the White Mountains were just a couple hours away. This lifelong passion was sparked by my time in Scouting, culminating with my visit to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico, where our motley crew of Scouts completed an 85-mile backpacking adventure in the backcountry. These days I haven’t been able to get out for a long backpacking trip for a while, but most recently I took a trip to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone, where I was also able to nurture my other love outside of work: photography. On the weekends, I’m a semi-professional photographer, and I shoot events, portraits, and nature in my free time.
My roommates and friends also know me for my love of food, and during the pandemic I got really into cooking and food photography. To date, my favorite dish I’ve successfully made is a mango souffle with coconut-lime creme anglaise, but more commonly you can find me meal-prepping on Sunday afternoons and making food TikToks as a true Gen-Z. Last but not least, music remains a huge part of my life and I take any opportunity to sing. At Bain, I loved singing in the Bain Band, and although nothing comes close to the a cappella days in college, nothing makes me happier than a K-Town Karaoke night here in NYC.
Meet other Persefonites!
“Once in a Lifetime" is a series of articles designed to help our customers and partners learn more about Persefoni's truly passionate team. We're not just building award-winning software ... together, we're helping to decarbonize our planet.