An emerging leader: Alexander Palkovsky
This award-winning game changer has set serious goals for himself—and meets them
In December, the Canadian Solar Industries Association (CanSIA) recognized individuals in the industry at the Game Changer Awards. One division focuses on the newcomers to the solar industry: Emerging Leaders for Solar Energy (ELSE). This year’s Emerging Solar Leader was Alexander Palkovsky. In just under three years working in the solar industry, he has proven his dedication to renewables and a drive to bring successful renewable models to a global scale.
Palkovsky grew up in British Columbia, first Whistler, then Vancouver.
“I loved skiing and I loved the outdoors,” he said, spending every weekend in Whistler even after his family moved to the city. This is where his interest in sustainability stems from. “I started watching the temperature as I got older. I knew that if it was raining in Vancouver, chances were it was snowing in the local mountains.”
Fast forward to his years at Western University, where Palkovsky said his focus shifted for a while. “When I got to Western University, I was thinking about the environment, but I hadn’t thought about a career within sustainability,” he said. Instead, he was interested in Ivey Business School and what the school represents. “I associated Ivey with Wall Street, investment banking and money.”
Palkovsky wasn’t pre-accepted into Ivey from high school, so he worked hard his first two years of university to be given a spot at the business school. He joined extracurriculars, volunteered and kept his grades high in hopes of being granted a spot in his third year. “When I applied, I thought it was a safe bet,” he said. To his surprise, he was not accepted this time around.
The lesson here, however, is that Palkovsky’s rejection forced him to re-evaluate his priorities and eventually return to his core values. While looking for a Plan B after not being accepted, he realized that he had approached Ivey from the wrong perspective.
“I thought back to what I really cared about,” he said.
That was growing up enjoying the outdoors on the West Coast. His interests also were in finance and energy, but sustainability held a majority vote. Palkovsky appealed Ivey’s first decision and was accepted after he submitted a formal letter outlining his goals to pursue sustainability with his Ivey education.
“I had to go through the rejection to remind myself that it was always sustainability,” he said. His perseverance has already proven useful in his career.
Put me in, coach!
Palkovsky said his line at his first position with Solar Flow Through Funds (SFF) was “Put me in, coach!” Working with a small team on smaller-scale projects provided the opportunity to gain experience across the board. If he didn’t know exactly how to do something right away, he would figure it out with his superior’s guidance and his own initiative. By the end of his two-and-a-half years at SFF, he was running project development and financing.
Despite being a key component of the team at SFF, Palkovsky chose to move on to Brookfield Renewable to pursue his long-term personal goals to make a global impact.
“My goal is to make international change," he said. "I know climate change is a worldly issue, and I didn’t believe that I was driving that world-scale change building small projects in Ontario.”
Brookfield has the scale to allow for a goal this large.
At Brookfield, Palkovsky is part of the Emerging Leaders Program. He is in the midst of a lengthy training process as he learns about each division of the company. Training started with a five-week rotation through the divisions to gain a basic understanding. Now, Palkovsky is learning at a deeper level throughout three divisions on rotation, each lasting six to nine months. The end result is to work with Brookfield to replicate the renewable models they have created in North America in other countries making the shift to renewables.
While Palkovsky has set high goals for himself, his current goal is to learn as much as possible from his superiors.
“The idea is to understand how the business functions as a symphony but also understand each instrument,” he said. “It’s a huge learning experience for me to see how they run an international renewable energy company.”
Setting goals and the power of intention
Palkovsky talks confidently about his goals.
“Goal setting has been my biggest success factor to date,” he said. “I tell myself that it doesn’t matter how I do it, but it’s law.” Palkovsky works with a vision board and breaks his long-term goals into smaller trackable ones. This process has proven successful this far into his career: when Palkovsky was part of an exchange program in Norway, he added Brookfield's logo to his vision board. “Sure enough, here I am,” he said.
His vision board is set up to flow seamlessly through each step: “How do my daily actions link to my monthly goals? How does my monthly goal help me achieve my quarterly goal? And so on,” he said. Palkovsky believes in the power of believing in what you want. “People take for granted the power of the mind, the conduct of thought and the power of intention,” he said.
Only a few years into his career, Palkovsky’s initiative and persistence are clearly beneficial to not only the advancement of his own career but the future of renewables in general. Who knows what else Palkovsky will achieve with this positive mindset.