Professional Profile: Kathy Hannun, 2019

Kathy Hannun

Name: Kathy Hannun

Title: CEO and Co-Founder

Company: Dandelion Energy

Location: New York City  

Birthplace: Dover, NH

Education: B.S. Civil Engineering & M.S. Computer Science, Stanford University

First job: When I was 14, I taught swimming lessons at the outdoor pool in my town in NH. The lessons were early morning and the water was chilly, but I was thrilled to have a job!

First job in real estate or allied field: Starting Dandelion has been my first foray into a real estate-related field.

What do you do now and what are you planning for the future? I am the CEO of Dandelion, a residential geothermal energy startup that launched out of Google X in 2017. Dandelion seeks to make it easier and more affordable to heat and cool homes with a clean, free, abundant, and renewable resource: geothermal energy. Dandelion uses high-performance equipment and a proprietary, low-cost installation process that allows homeowners to save money and reduce their emissions by moving away from conventional heating and cooling methods. We are growing quickly in NY, investing in R&D, launching additional products, and expanding the area we serve, in the service of making clean, affordable heating and cooling an option for every homeowner. 

How do you unwind from a busy day? My daughter Evelyn, age 14 months, likes to unwind with repeated readings of “Pat the Bunny” and “Hippos go Berserk” among other favorites, and so this tends to be how my husband and I spend our time after work as well. I’m also lucky to have family nearby, so much of my unwinding takes place with family on the weekends.

Favorite book or author: I love Vladimir Nabokov and his use of language.

Favorite movie: My favorite movie I’ve seen recently is Free Solo. The filmmakers did such a great job of telling a nuanced story with balance and empathy, and it was inspiring to see such a visually awe-inspiring display of human ambition and achievement.

Last song/album that you purchased/downloaded? Baby shark (you can guess who motivated this particular acquisition).

One word to describe your work environment: Fast-paced! 

Rules to live by in business: Think for yourself. Drive clarity. Cash is key.

If you could invite one person to dinner (living or dead, but not related to you) who would it be and where would you go? I’d invite Ernest Shackleton to dinner to try and better understand what he understands about leadership and human nature that allowed him to lead his men so successfully after his ship, the Endurance, was destroyed by ice on an Antarctic expedition. The book that details his story is called Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage.  Ideally, we’d dine in Antarctica, so the landscape reflected the conversation, although I’m not sure there is much of a restaurant scene there. 

What is your dreamjob? Secretary of the Interior. Our country has a tremendous store of natural resources: forests, rivers, vast sparsely populated lands. If we use them well and take care of them, they represent a vast source of value for centuries to come.