by Andy Klump '94
Since moving to China over 16 years ago, I have realized the greatest benefit of my SLUH education has been the ability to ask questions and challenge accepted wisdom. In my current role as CEO, Founder and Owner of Clean Energy Associates, a global solar pv and energy storage engineering company with 100 employees in 10 countries, my team is constantly dealing with pushback from suppliers, financial institutions and industry competition questioning our approach to providing supply chain transparency and quality control oversight to clients from more than 50 countries.
When I established the business in 2008, many questioned my ability to survive and told me that this model would never succeed, yet I continued to ask questions counter to industry frameworks and probe for answers in areas where others accepted conventional beliefs. By challenging the status quo, our company discovered key insights and know-how that allowed us to become the industry leader in solar and storage technical advisory solutions globally. As SLUH teachers allowed me to ask difficult questions and pursue my own line of thinking, I was able to mature from a shy, introverted kid whose father was a St. Louis County Cab taxi driver of 44 years to become an adventuresome and confident business owner who has built an international company culture that thrives on unending curiosity as one of its core values.
While I studied French at SLUH for four years and ignored Chinese at the time, my curiosity served me well as my educational path and career evolved to China. I earned my Economics degree from Northwestern in 1998 and an MBA at Harvard Business School in 2003, but only at the age of 25 did I start a two-year journey to gain business fluency in Mandarin while surviving the raw elements of Beijing shortly after the outbreak of SARS. I now continue to live in Shanghai and have a thriving family with four daughters who are all learning Mandarin as well as the art of asking questions in a diverse, international environment.