Sustainability/Analysis/

How much do greentech execs get paid?

What do C-suite salaries look like when landing a role in a greentech company? We’ve dug into the data.

By Connor Bilboe

Credit: Paula Baeza, chief financial officer at Zeleros.

There are more jobs in the greentech sector than ever before amid a flourishing ecosystem of companies working to protect the environment.

By 2030, it is estimated that up to 20m jobs will be created worldwide in sustainability.

But in a sector that’s still maturing, what kind of money do these companies offer when hiring senior talent?

We’ve analysed the salaries of greentech executives — such as CTOs, CFOs and CPOs — and discovered what they earn from early- to late-stage.

The data comes from greentech recruitment company Storm4 and is collated from 10k+ greentech candidates, which includes the annual salaries of senior figures across the UK, the US and Europe.

Here’s where the money is at.

UK greentech execs get paid less than other tech sectors — albeit generously

Greentech execs are generally paid well, but fall a little bit shorter than other tech sectors like fintech where pay is 18-20% higher. In the UK, greentech execs take home £92.5k minimum — but landing yourself in a bigger company with 100+ employees could get you £130k on average.

There’s a number of reasons why greentech salaries sit slightly below other tech sectors. First, it’s younger and is still reaching maturity. “No one really knows whether or not some of the products are going to go to market and actually be revenue generating,” says Kayleigh Bottomley, founder of Storm4.

“What [greentechs] can do is incentivise [employees] with stock options around how well the product does”

With lower salaries and big bonuses being few and far between, companies have found other ways to incentivise their employees in the sector. “What [greentechs] can do is incentivise [employees] with stock options around how well the product does,” says Bottomley.

And this option is becoming more popular. Romanie Thomas, founder of recruitment platform Juggle Jobs, says that more founders and CEOs are placing more emphasis on equity. “The sell that founders are leading on is the day to day impact that people are going to have [working for a greentech]. So they can pull on that lever to get talented people for less money,” she says.

According to Bottomley, share options are above the average in the greentech sector — with small company execs taking approximately 1-3% of equity — whereas fintech execs take ~0.5% in comparison.

When it comes to base salary, many execs don’t move up the pay scale due to high turnover. This is because execs tend to enjoy and be specialists in their stage. Bottomley says that candidates go “backwards in time” when, for example, the seed-stage company it works for hits Series A and they go on to hunt for another seed-stage company.

“There’s around a two to a two and a half year cycle for execs in [greentech] roles,” she says. This is a significant difference from the average tenure of an executive, which is 4.9 years.

CFOs have the highest salaries

At early-stage UK greentechs, CFOs earn the most in the C-suite with an average salary of £120k+. Chief operating officers take home the least  — albeit at a generous average of £100k.

It’s hard to tell at this stage if other roles will become better paid in future, but Bottomley says that compensation packages for CTO’s will get more attractive due to the increasing demand for the particular role in greentechs.

But where can greentechs source that talent? Thomas — who agrees that companies would be wise to pay CTOs in greentech a premium — says that companies need to be headhunting for people at PhD level.

In terms of verticals, Bottomley says that firms operating in smart buildings — like smart metering and smart sensors for building sustainability — will see an increase in salaries for exec roles. 

“[Because] that can partner as a revenue generation tool for the companies, that whole space is able to pay a bit more because it’s not just a case of doing good, it actually has multimillion pound impacts on commercial buildings when they save that volume of energy that the sensors help.” She also thinks that execs working with electric vehicles (EVs) will see increases in pay.

*We have excluded the CEO in this analysis, given it’s usually held by a founder rather than external talent.

The US leads the way

Similar to fintech salaries, working in the US will give you the most bang for your buck.

Greentech execs at midsized companies in the UK earn an average of £160k but earn just over £180k in the US. 

Europe-based startups are earning the least out of the three geographies, at £135k+.

In case you were keen to glance at the raw UK data, here’s the full set of figures for UK greentech salaries across different roles.

This is the fourth in a series of data stories looking at how much people get paid at startups. Part one looked at CTO salaries in the UK, part two dived into UK COO salaries across different-sized startups and part three explored how much fintech execs get paid.

Connor Bilboe is Sifted’s editorial assistant. He tweets from @connorbilboe and is the coauthor of our sustainability-focused newsletter, Sustain. You can sign up here.

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