Yale School of Management

Walter Schindler on Disruptive Technology's Role in Sustainability

On October 2, the Executive MBA Sustainability cohort had the pleasure of hearing from Walter Schindler, founder and managing partner of SAIL Capital Partners, during the EMBA Sustainability Colloquium. He took the time to speak to the group about his career pioneering sustainable investments or, in his words, how he is “mapping the puzzle of disruptive transformation.”

October 6, 2015

“Only disruptive technology can bridge the growing gap between the supply and demand of energy, water, food, and other global resources,” he said.

Walter Schindler, founder and managing partner of SAIL Capital Partners, talks to EMBA students

Walter believes sustainability is achieved through technologies that not only work in practice, but also encounter system resistance. These disruptive technologies will bridge the gap between our world’s supply and demand issues, creating greater and greater efficiencies for our global needs.

Walter embarked upon sustainability when he took the first renewable power project developer, Ultrasystems Inc., public in 1981 as a young lawyer at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLC. That experience revealed the market and investment potential for sustainable resources and technology. He completely changed the course of his incredibly successful legal career to return to sustainability in 2002, starting SAIL Capital Partners. The company invests in breakthrough technologies that are developing new sources of energy, water, and food.

“Investing in new energy, water, and other large global technology opportunities will require a new investment model combining larger capital sources, global reach, and comprehensive advisory and research inputs,” he said at the October 2 colloquium.

SAIL Capital Partners has created a new investment model for investing in sustainability. Rather than simply investing in companies with strong people, a proven technology, and domain expertise, SAIL also connects them to their global network of clean tech capital markets and provides comprehensive advising and support through their strategic corporate partnerships.

One of SAIL’s great success stories is investing in the global unmet need for safe drinking water with the company WaterHealth. WaterHealth brings safe, reliable, and affordable drinking water directly to communities worldwide through a transformational water treatment process. The company allows communities to go into the utility business of providing clean water to their villages via small water treatment plants. This next-generation model for water purification now serves more than 6 million people through more than 558 sites in India and 22 in Africa.

As Walter said on October 2, “Creative destruction is the only path to a safe future.”

Walter inspired the group to think differently about sustainable impact and investment. If we want to tackle the major resource challenges our world is facing, then we need to think creatively and find these disruptive technologies. He also provided a great role model for how you can turn your personal passions into impactful work.

About the author

Meg Goetsch