September 05, 2019
Jessica Isaacs is the Director of Finance for Angaza, a technology company that enables businesses to provide affordable products and energy access to people in emerging markets.
What career experiences led you to your current role?
I was a chemistry major in college, and while I loved the problem solving, I was clumsy and a menace in the lab, so I decided to seek a job that would allow me to keep problem solving without being around chemicals. I ended up working as a management consultant for three years and then joined a small nonprofit before returning to school for my MBA. After my MBA, I spent six years at Chevron, where I had eight distinct jobs—five through the Finance MBA Development Program (rotations included M&A, Strategic Planning, and FP&A), two roles as Finance Manager for different Chevron businesses, and an analytical role directly supporting Chevron's CFO & Comptroller. I was fortunate to learn how finance is done at a large and established company. Then the opportunity arose to be head of finance for a company working to redefine how renewable energy systems are purchased and financed in emerging markets by enabling off-grid customers to pay for energy in affordable micropayments. I was thrilled to join Angaza as the first finance hire and build its finance team.
What do you do on a daily basis?
I'm responsible for Angaza's financial reporting and analysis, accounting, compliance, and internal controls. I also work on special projects, such as designing our pricing. I usually spend the first part of my day catching up on questions and requests that have come in overnight, since we have a second office in Kenya and many of our customers are based in Africa. Then I typically have several meetings, which could range from an all-hands meeting to a discussion of finance and engineering team collaboration to a 1:1 with a direct report. I try to use the remainder of my time to make progress on larger projects.
What do you like most about your job?
I like the variety of projects I work on and the opportunities for growth—there is never a dull moment! I'm excited about our mission and the people that we are helping. I also have terrific colleagues who are smart, impact oriented, and fun.
What advice would you give to a student considering a similar career?
Try to find roles early in your career where you can be exposed to a variety of industries (as I was as a consultant) and/or roles (as I was at Chevron), as this can help you better understand the landscape and what you enjoy. If you can find ways to volunteer (I'm currently the Board President of Alternative Family Services, a mental health, foster care, and adoption agency), this has dual benefits of developing your own skills and allowing you to give back to the community where you live.