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Managing Director – Vehicles and Transportation

Rocky Mountain Institute is seeking a talented and strategic Managing Director who can lead RMI’s aggressive push to accelerate the transformation of vehicles and of the city transportation systems they shape.  This is part of RMI’s goal to transform the world’s energy systems to run primarily on renewable energy and efficiency.  

This Managing Director, essentially a senior partner, will build on RMI’s established reputation in lightweight vehicles design, and two current programs focusing on accelerating the penetration of lightweight composites, and on transportation strategy for China.  We expect to add near-term programs driving change in Communities – cities and universities – and accelerating smart parking and fleet electrification.   Other ideas include looking for “leapfrog players” in the world’s auto industry – those able and willing to move to entirely new vehicle architectures, materials and drive chains in a “big bet” approach.  This would mean building up our drive train expertise, and expanding our work platform in vehicle electrification.  This position reports to the CEO and collaborates closely with other Managing Directors in the Research and Collaboration (R&C) team to execute RMI’s overall programmatic strategies. This individual will also build and lead teams, and help create a high-performance working environment where our staff can realize professional growth and success. Finally, the Managing Directors take a very active role in pursuing the funding, both philanthropic, government and collaboration revenue, for their initiatives.

Specific Position Description

RMI has a well-established reputation and extensive capabilities in designing and executing collaborative problem solving and solution scaling teams.   Our early work on Hypercar, an all-carbon fiber composite concept vehicle has continuing impact on car design even today, more than twenty years later.  Because of the huge importance of oil in the world’s energy mix, and the global nature of both vehicle design and city-level transportation system insights, we have created this globally-focused position to drive and integrate RMI activities.

The Vehicles and Transportation Managing Director works with the RMI CEO, fellow Managing Directors and our Development (fundraising) team to continually shape and fund our work on vehicles, transportation and communities projects, ensuring they meet both longer-term objectives and strong annual progress commitments to donors and collaboration partners.  RMI’s work is budgeted to be at least $13 million annually. At present, RMI Vehicles-related work’s budget is roughly $1 million per year, funded through philanthropy, government research projects, and company-funded collaboration projects, but we expect significant growth across all of our practices including  Buildings, Transportation, Electricity and Industry.

The Vehicles and Transportation Managing Director helps shape and drive RMI's reputation through highly visible engagement of a wide range of industry groups.  These organizations include trade groups like SAE and ACMA (composites manuacturers) and thought partners like NIST, DOE’s AMO  and ORNL and the Fraunhofer  Institutes.

Key Success Factors – Transport MD

  • Building on RMI’s reputation in carbon fiber composites, reshapes supply chains and catalyzes aggressive light-weighting programs in the automotive industry in the US, Europe and China.
  • Develops RMI’s expertise on advanced drivetrains, and works with industry to accelerate the implementation thereof.
  • Strengthens the trend towards transforming urban landscapes and efficient and electrified vehicle use to reduce VMTs.
  • Builds an industry wide understanding of value, risk and benefit considerations involved in new, aggressive automotive standards.
  • Builds a world class RMI transport team.
  • Grows the revenue stream for the transport practice to $2-3 million over three years.
  • Demonstrates organization wide leadership, helping set a culture of impact, accountability and entrepreneurship.

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Collaborate with the senior team to set RMI program strategy
  • Serve as a public face and thought leader of RMI
  • Work with the other Managing Directors to set the overall direction of the programmatic work and manage the entire R&C organization
  • Develop and scale the vehicles and transportation program to ensure large-scale impact in the US, China and beyond
  • Identify and shape specific program initiatives, likely in combination with other MDs and Principals, focusing on topics like communities and industrial efficiency
  • Working with and mentoring Principals, and testing their ideas to ensure they deliver the needed impact and stimulate donor engagement
  • Work closely with Principals to drive the implementation of all initiatives by aggressively scaling up successful programmatic work
  • Determine specific staffing needs and hire R&C staff
  • Support and guide Principals in running performance management process and make the resulting promotion/career-change decisions
  • Mentor key individuals, especially at Manager level and above
  • Together with our chief scientist, Amory Lovins, identify and track a set of themes around which future RMI initiatives might be developed
  • Play the key role in fundraising for the Vehicles and Transportation program, including developing and maintaining specific donor relationships
  • Identify, shape, and contract DOE and other government research projects, and shape and deliver collaborative efforts with companies and industry groups


  • Deep understanding of transportation issues, with a special focus on vehicles and their use
  • Well established national and international network with a particular emphasis on the auto industry
  • Established reputation in relevant auto industry or transportation strategy segments in the US (international experience is a plus)
  • 10+ years of experience in related jobs, covering a mix of strategic and practical/operational roles

Education and Experience

  • Graduate degree(s) in technical, business/finance, economics or management fields
  • 15–20 years’ work experience including significant time in project-based environments including project development, consulting, or professional services
  • Strong outreach capability: Speaking and writing to business and donor audiences
  • Proven selling capabilities to investors, companies, donors and decision- makers
  • A strong creative streak: proven ability to find new and impactful approaches, influence others’ thinking, and demonstrate entrepreneurial leadership
  • Ability to work with colleagues across a broad range of energy-related topics including the electricity systems, solar power, international energy issues, climate change, sustainable finance, and corporate sustainability strategy

Interested applicants should send their resume and cover letter to rmi@sixdegreepeople.com.

RMI is an equal opportunity employer.

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