Trial by Fire…D.light Fellows Applicants Shine

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D.light Design launched its global fellows program in February 2009 to better organize its human resources strategy to leverage the talent and energy of interns, volunteers, advisors and short-term staff to propel company growth. D.light is sharply focused on building out its permanent core team; we just made three significant hires into finance, manufacturing, and sales operations roles in the last couple of weeks . CEO Sam Goldman recently said that 50% of his time is spent on recruiting. However, D.light has also been fortunate and intentional in bringing talented “short-timers” – e.g. consultants looking for externships, MBAs on summer breaks, investors looking for a career change, and young professionals looking for start-up experience – into the company for three to ten-month stints. When we posted Fellows positions this February, we got an incredible response across positions and offices (China and India). We had 80 stellar applicants for the Business Development position in our India office alone.

The D.light culture is fast-paced and action oriented, so we structured our assessment process to be as experiential as possible. It was trial by fire. We wanted to assess candidates’ ability to think outside the box, apply creativity and structure to an unstructured business question, produce deliverables quickly, and present a concise and compelling point of view. Business Development candidates were asked in their second round interviews to prepare a presentation that could be used to pitch a new partner on a hypothetical solar loan pilot. Plus, they were asked to author a hypothetical, “guest” blog posting that would run on Sam’s SocialEdge blog 90 days later. Our final Graphic Design candidate was asked to spend two days in our Noida office and come up with a new in-store display unit that would build the D.light brand among peri-urban consumers and provide basic education about solar energy. She had to present to Sam and other senior managers at the end of her 36 hours. She’s now on board and we’re going to print in a week. We asked behavioral questions such as “if you had been working with an executive coach for the last three months, what would be the key issues you’re working on? What’s the toughest retreat you’ve ever had to make or hardest no you’ve ever had to give? Can you describe your ideal manager?”

After all of this, four superstars rose to the top as having the best fit in terms of skill, attitude and style for D.light India. These fellows design, strategize, envision, and execute. They speak French, Hindi, English, Spanish and Gujurati. They are artists and authors. They are social change evangelists and entrepreneurs. They are going to help D.light build a movement around solar energy. Welcome to D.light India—Anay Shah (Business Development – from Development Alternatives, Inc), Sana Rao (Graphic Design – from National Institute of Design), Mariette Fourmeaux du Sartel (Carbon – from Haas School of Business, Mauna Kea Technologies), and Jack Godfrey Wood (Product Design – award winning Industrial Designer, educated at Central St. Martin’s).

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