Live Your Company Values w/ Mike Doniger

by | May 16, 2024 | Podcast

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Guest: Mike Doniger is clear: as a leader, you should always live your company values. As co-founder and Chief Operating Officer for Chaberton Energy, Mike leads the company’s development, engineering and business operations teams. Headquartered in Maryland, Chaberton Energy is a public benefit corporation focused on developing sustainable infrastructure and renewable energy projects.

Committed to Lean/Operations Excellence principles, Mike began his career in the U.S. Navy, culminating in service as Chief Engineer of a nuclear-powered submarine. In 2008, realizing the growing need for leadership in the clean energy industry, Mike joined a young biomass-to-energy start-up that became the world’s leading supplier of utility-grade wood pellets. Mike held several senior engineering, operations and development positions as the company grew to a $1B market capitalization, deploying over $500M in growth capital and implementing the processes necessary to operate seven manufacturing facilities, four ports, and nearly 600 people. Subsequently, Mike led a 1,200+ person Amazon distribution center outside Richmond, Virginia, implementing same-day delivery service in 2019.

Mike holds a B.S. in Systems Engineering with merit from the U.S. Naval Academy, a Master’s in Engineering Management from Old Dominion University and a Master’s in Business Administration from Georgetown University. He lives outside Richmond, Virginia, with his wife, Luan, and two sons, Benjamin and Aden.

Episode Insight: Our mission is firmly rooted in creating a better world for us and future generations, and we embody the mindset of finding win-win-win outcomes whenever possible.

Background: Mike Doniger and I share this thought: Leaders must live up to their company values.

I met Mike through my new friend, John Saunders, who thought Mike would be a great Reflect Forward guest, and I couldn’t agree more. During this week’s episode, Mike tells us about his community solar company, Chaberton, which he and his co-founder started in 2020.

Mike’s approach focuses on achieving win-win-win outcomes in every aspect of his work. He is committed to benefiting the communities where his projects are located, from the thoughtful siting and design of each project to the Chaberton Cares giving program. His efforts also support those in greatest need, such as lower-income families and small, local businesses, while fostering a positive environment for his employees, given that his business is employee-owned. Additionally, Mike ensures that his customers and other stakeholders consistently receive value and consideration in all business dealings.

Mike tells us how Chaberton’s employees are part of “One Chaberton,” which adheres to a structured, stage-gated approach to development. At the outset of a project, the risk of failure is notably high. Therefore, Mike implements guardrails, allowing incremental spending approvals as each project milestone is met, thereby reducing the overall project risk. This strategic approach ensures that creativity and excellence are maintained throughout development.

How to find Mike:


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