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Vienna, VA



Madhav Acharya

Business Fellow

Madhav Acharya joins Breakthrough Energy’s Business Fellows program from Vienna, Virginia.  Madhav is committed to delivering practical solutions to the energy transition and climate crisis in a timely manner. He is eager to support Innovator Fellows with a range of activities including business and technology strategy, techno-economic analysis, organizational development, demonstration projects, marketing, and fundraising.

Madhav has leadership experience across the private sector, government, and early-stage startups. He spent 18 years at ExxonMobil in a range of technical and business roles before becoming a T2M advisor at ARPA-E, where he co-led the first SCALEUP funding opportunity. Most recently, he was the vice president of commercialization at Syzygy Plasmonics.

He has a Bachelor of Technology from the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi and a Doctor of Philosophy in chemical engineering from the University of Delaware. His hobbies include gardening, swimming, and traveling.


What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given? 
“Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement.” After 25 years in the energy business, I realize that I’m still learning – which is great!

What is your favorite word and why?
“Paradigm shift” – because that’s what we need to solve climate change.

What is the most impactful book that you have read?
It’s hard to pick just one. I would recommend “The Reckoning” by David Halberstam, “Prosperity without Growth” by Tim Jackson, and “The Affluent Society” by JK Galbraith. I just finished “Power Failure” about the history of GE which is another great read.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to drive trains when I grew up, but ended up becoming a different kind of “engineer.”

Share a fun fact about yourself:
I’ve lived on four continents (specifically in India, Nigeria, the United States, and the United Kingdom).