This CEO has a plan to jumpstart the U.S. battery industry

On this week’s episode of Fortune‘s Leadership Next podcast, co-host Alan Murray talks with chemist Christina Lampe-Önnerud, the CEO of Cadenza Innovation, about her efforts to power the battery industry back up in the United States. She says innovation, investment, and batteries that don’t explode—and she already has a fix for the last problem—will go a long way toward reinvigorating the U.S. battery industry. Lampe-Önnerud is also deeply involved with Li-Bridge, a public-private alliance developed to fill the U.S. lithium battery supply chain gap.

Co-host Michal Lev-Ram joins for the pre-interview chat. Listen to the episode or read the full transcript below.


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Alan Murray: Leadership Next is powered by the folks at Deloitte, who, like me, are exploring the changing rules of business leadership and how CEOs are navigating this change.

Welcome to Leadership Next, the podcast about the changing rules of business leadership. I’m Alan Murray.

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Michal Lev-Ram: And I’m Michal Lev-Ram. Alan, last week I teased that we had two very special live episodes for our listeners, and I wasn’t lying. Last week, we aired your fascinating interview with Ken Frazier, which was fantastic. And this week, we’re featuring the second of the two guests you interviewed live at the Next Generation CEO event Deloitte hosted in D.C. in October. So tell us who is on the show today.

Murray: Well, today’s interview is with a woman who has been my friend for 15 years. She’s a Swedish chemist, Christina Lampe-Önnerud. I call her the battery queen. She started two different battery companies very successfully. Her current title is founder and CEO of Cadenza Innovation. But she’s also very involved in the effort to bring battery manufacturing back to the United States.

Lev-Ram: So I have to say, I love “the battery queen.” You should create nicknames for more of the CEOs we interview. But but tell us a little bit more about why you thought Christina was a good guest for the Next Generation audience and, of course, for the Leadership Next audience.

Murray: It’s such a great story, not just because Christina is a wonderful personality, but also because it says something about this moment we’re in in the United States where we’re trying, through industrial policy, to recreate some of the industries that we lost. Christina’s first company, Boston-Power, was very successful, but when it came time for her to sell it, the only option was to sell it to the Chinese. And she did. So that was almost 10 years ago. She exited the company and sold it to a Chinese buyer, because those were the only buyers who were available. Now, she started the second company, and she is at this moment when we’ve all recognized it was a mistake to let so many industries go completely over to China. And she’s very involved in the effort to bring the battery industry back to the United States. And we talk about that in the podcast.

Lev-Ram: That’s great. Yeah. There’s so much that’s relevant here on the manufacturing side. She’s got such a global perspective. I also love just the entrepreneurial spirit that she has. And I know you had a chance to talk to her about her childhood in Sweden and why she got into chemistry in the first place, which I think most people steer clear of if they if they can avoid chemistry classes. This is something I’m super excited to hear about, especially since there are still very few women chemists, by the way.

Murray: Absolutely. And she was one of the very few growing up, but it says a lot about her personality and perseverance. One other thing, Michal: At the time she decided to become a chemist, her other career ambition was to be an opera singer, and she still participates in opera and supports it strongly. So we talk about that as well. Anyway, here it is, my conversation with Christina Lampe-Önnerud, the battery queen, recorded live in Washington, D.C.

Welcome to Leadership Next, the podcast about the changing rules of business leadership. I’m Alan Murray, and I’m super excited today to be here with my friend Christina Lampe-Önnerud. Did I pronounce it right?

Christina Lampe-Önnerud: Perfect.

Murray: Good. I’ve learned something over 15 years, and I’m really excited to be here. Christina is so many things. She’s a chemist. You hold something like 80, 80-plus patents. You are an opera aficionado. You sing opera.

Lampe-Önnerud: No, I sing with an a cappella group.

Murray: Well, there you go. So, I will warn you that we did have a CEO on Leadership Next who sang a song for us last year, the CEO of Panera Bread. So, if you want to break out in song before the end of this interview, you’re allowed to do it. Christina is an entrepreneur. Two times, maybe more than two times. There are two that I know about, both in the in the battery business. We’re going to talk about that today. And she is a friend and a great person to talk to. So you’re going to really enjoy this conversation. Thank you so much for doing this.

Lampe-Önnerud: Thank you.

Murray: So, tell me if I’ve got this right. You started a battery company in 2005. I met you shortly after that. Successful battery company, Boston-Power. You were named entrepreneur of the year by a firm that I’m not going to mention, because it competes with our sponsor, Deloitte, and then you sold it to the Chinese. Then you started a second company, Cadenza battery company, and now, you’re co-chairing an effort called Li-Bridge that’s designed to bring the battery manufacturing business back to the United States. So my first question for you is, why did you sell to the Chinese in the first place?

Lampe-Önnerud: So, thank you, Alan, thanks for having me. Wonderful to be here. So the Chinese have an interesting part in this big ecosystem that we today call high tech. So if we go back, just lithium ion was invented in the ’70s by U.S. and European inventors. Got commercialized first in 1991 by Sony. Sony had the vision of what the future of electronics could be. We could have wallpapers with batteries. We could just hang on, clip on, we could drive electric cars. You could have data 24/7. Go figure. And the Japanese ecosystem just lit up. The U.S. was not short to follow. And in fact, in only a few years, the United States had multiple lithium ion leading companies. The Koreans came in in the late ’90s and said, Oh, we’re going to take their food, we’re going to eat their lunch, we’re going to kick them, and we’re in a lower price. Only to be, of course, masterminded by the Chinese government who said, Oh, look at that, we only have coal. We don’t really know this oil thing, but we know energy and we need energy. We got to do something differently. And they made it a strategic investment, strategic policy. Every five years was a 30-year policy. And with that, batteries became part of the encouraged industry, alongside with geothermal and solar and wind. And in that era, it was very interesting, because to me, as a young entrepreneur at that time, it felt like the world is coming to a new energy and tech era. Aren’t I lucky? I live in the U.S. I’m originally from Sweden. I have two passports, and I could travel freely between the academies and the business world, and you know, it was so interesting.

But to your question, what happened was we actually with Boston-Power pioneered with HP. There were five suppliers at the time Sony, Sanyo, Panasonic, LG and Samsung. And Boston-Power with HP, we launched, if you lived in Europe at the time, you would have seen the silk, parsley ties, and dresses and the design on the lap book to be that fancy kind of Christmas offering or holiday offering that year, 2009. We had manufacturing in Taiwan, outside Taipei. We had global supply chain. We had marketing and efforts in Europe and all that good stuff, but we could not scale in the U.S. Nobody wanted to do it, and in fact, it was HP’s initiative at the time.

Murray: Because of capital? Because of…what was the limiting factor?

Lampe-Önnerud: So HP, Dell and all the leaders at the time had already decided to outsource almost all of the manufacturing to Taiwan at the time.

Murray: Because it was less expensive.

Lampe-Önnerud: Less expensive, more efficient. They had all of the infrastructure CapEx, so that’s kind of the deal. So then we came into this era, and GM approached us again and said Oh, we messed up with electric car in 2000. We would like to give it another shot. And then we did this Paris Auto show in 2009. We had an electric car, Saab 9-5 for the whole family, five seats, 200 miles to charge $40,000, 2009. Our friends at Nasdaq around the tower in New York in Times Square. And after that meeting, we were informed that it was a very successful demonstration, but that the effort now had been sold to Beijing Auto.

Murray: Who sold it?

Lampe-Önnerud: GM sold the Saab 9-5…

Murray: So you had done the deal with GM and then GM turn. So you didn’t make the choice?

Lampe-Önnerud: Not that one. But then with all of these opportunities, commercial opportunities going to China and China really investing in the electric car, the high-tech market, and that coinciding with our recession in Europe and us.

Murray: There was no choice.

Lampe-Önnerud: There was no choice.

Murray: If you were going to be in the battery business, you were going to take Chinese capital.

Lampe-Önnerud: And the final club for me was we applied for stimulus. You may remember the Obama administration had a lot of money coming out very, very quickly. And I think I killed our application. We had opportunities which were endorsed, maybe not endorsed but sponsored or encouraged, I think is the word they used from the defense, the U.S. defense from many of the suppliers as well as from the electronics industry. And we thought we had a good proposition because we had something that could turn into black numbers very quickly. But I wrote the letter from the CEO to the U.S. government where I said, This is amazing. You’re sponsoring so much money coming into EVs. This is great. You should invest. I mean, give us an opportunity. We applied for $100 million because we can basically deliver to taxpayers. We can deliver a real business. But on the EVs, maybe that doesn’t happen in 2012. Maybe it’s still early. It could be like all the way to 2020. But don’t worry, we will keep this company alive and we will shape this. And we will. And I got a personal call that said, Christina, you’re not aggressive enough. And I said Or I’m right. It could be I’m right. It could be there is no EV business in 2012.

Murray: You didn’t take the fake-it-till-you-make-it approach that’s so common in tech.

Lampe-Önnerud: I did not. But I don’t know. I don’t know if I’m right about this, actually, Alan, because then I feel like a lot of the capital goes to the people who tell that unbelievable story. But anyway, that was our [inaudible].

Murray: So they weren’t willing to do it because the runway was too long.

Lampe-Önnerud: Yeah. Or others said we can do it in 2012.

Murray: But did not. Yeah. Fascinating and so you basically were out. Boston-Power became…

Lampe-Önnerud: And then I stepped up, we had Western investors, and then everybody eventually sold out to the Chinese. I stayed as executive chairman for a year, international chairman to just calm down things. And we built the first gigafactory, the first lithium ion gigafactory.

Murray: In China.

Lampe-Önnerud: In China.

Murray: Where in China is it?

Lampe-Önnerud: In Liyang.

Murray: So, how would you compare? So, then it’s like 2011. What was the sense then about tying our future, tying your future, tying your company’s future to China?

Lampe-Önnerud: No problem. Actually, at the time, it was basically the U.S. companies in general, we were very mindful of not being imperialistic. So companies did well that were understated, deliver on material contracts. We were kind to our suppliers, we were tough, but we were innovators and we—basically … the idea was, everybody wins together.

Murray: So, at the time you had to do it, but you didn’t have any particular misgivings about doing it.

Lampe-Önnerud: No, and we read headlines about other companies getting ripped off in IP. That was actually never our experience. Yeah, we had never the experience of being ripped off. We didn’t have suppliers steal stuff from us. Like, all of those stories were not our experience.

Murray: Okay, now fast forward to the present. You’re co-chair of this Li-Bridge effort, which basically says, Oops, we made a mistake. We shouldn’t have given away all our battery business. We need to start bringing it back to the U.S. What happened? What changed?

Lampe-Önnerud: So I think the big wake-up call this, this is a multi-trillion dollar industry. That’s number one. Number two, the U.S. infrastructure and electricity is tied to an old tech paradigm, and almost everything was invested at the same time. So, the whole United States has the challenge of having to either reinstall the old tech paradigm on electricity or invest in the new paradigm. The general public would like to see the new paradigm. There’s an absolute idea that we would like to build resilience into our electricity.

Murray: And batteries are critical to.

Lampe-Önnerud: The batteries are critical. As you know, I chaired the future of energy for World Economic Forum for almost 10 years, and in 2018 we issued one report that said—and New York was very instrumental in this. New York was one of the data points where we said, the Western world will most likely double its electricity need over the next four to seven years. I was in a meeting with very powerful people in New York, Chatham House rules, and they said we were wrong. It is maybe 3- to 4x need for electricity. So, it’s not what we thought then, that it was either you start to invest in clean tech and sustainability and solar, wind, and batteries, and you augment where the grid is here. We actually had no chance in grid. And I don’t know that this way of thinking is actually dominant.

Murray: If it’s sunk in yet. So can you really do this? I mean, having given up the industry to China, a decade later, do you really think we can go back and recreate what was lost?

Lampe-Önnerud: I do. I think that we have seen it been a reality in multiple geographies, not just in China and Korea. But it takes long-term commitment. So, if any contribution from this Li-Bridge, which was 40 industry players, academies, and national labs and policy makers, basically with oversight. We met with State Department, EPA, Defense, like all of the agents basically that care about electricity and resiliency. And I think it’s economic gains, it is independence gains. And what made me so passionate to participate is one, I believe it’s possible. Why? Because if you have at least 10 years—I advocated for 30 years because I’ve seen it work, but we got 10 years now. Don’t touch it. It may not be perfect policy, but don’t touch it, because we are now figuring out how to operate within the rules that you set. So with that, you have capital now being cautiously optimistic that this is something we can do.

Murray: There’s a lot of money there in the very badly named inflation Reduction Act.

Lampe-Önnerud: Yes.

Murray: To subsidize that. Right. But, you know, this country has a horrible history, relationship, with the whole idea of industrial policy. You’re describing an industrial policy. Just ideological, ideological opposition. You say you have to be consistent for 10 years. We don’t do very well at that. I mean, we’re going to have—we could have a new administration a year from now that has a different view towards these things. Do we have the ability, from a governmental standpoint, to make it work? You’ve now seen government up close and personal? You’ve watched it very closely. Can we administer something like this? An industrial policy to bring back these ends?

Lampe-Önnerud: Yeah. So of course I’m not the expert, but what I have seen is, surprisingly, to this independence. So, everybody is fiercely independent. Nobody’s affiliated with a party. And that is true for almost every member of this committee. We were surprised to see traditional red states hand this up in no time. So the fact that you have the opposite party being the biggest winner to date.

Murray: Yep.

Lampe-Önnerud: Could be very good.

Murray: Yeah. Most of the factories will likely end up in red states.

Lampe-Önnerud: Yes.

Murray: And you also have the the glue that comes from being against China. That seems to be one of the few things that can unite legislators from both sides of the aisle.

Lampe-Önnerud: And from the industry perspective, we don’t want to hear we are against China.

Murray: You don’t like that?

Lampe-Önnerud: I don’t like that at all. I think that’s borderline naive. Anybody has a cell phone, anybody has a component on Chinese communications on you? Yes?

Murray: All of us do.

Lampe-Önnerud: How about that? So, like, we shouldn’t be so black and white, and we should be very careful. I, in my opinion—this has been part of my statements and my speeches in this forum. We are a leading nation. We can take ourselves down. We are not taken down. So if we’re number one, we can act number one. If we have insights and we have a huge market and we commit to a future that looks like technological lead, economical lead, democracy lead, and debate lead, that is all possible.

Murray: Christina…

Lampe-Önnerud: China is a supplier.

Murray: Christina, that’s a very optimistic view of American government. But we are sitting here in Washington, D.C., at the moment at which we just barely survived shutting down the whole government because of a personal spat on Capitol Hill. Well, I mean, again, you’ve seen U.S. government up close and personal. What is it going to take for them to pull this off?

Lampe-Önnerud: Yeah, so I think that we need to activate. So, this is a part, I think, you do this and maybe where you are, at least, where I’m engaged, so we’ve got to step up our game. The loss of missing this opportunity is huge, and we just have to care a little bit more. Yes, it’s messy, and our policy is messy, and our political system is messy, but this is what we have.

Murray: And of course, it’s not just batteries. It’s batteries, it’s solar panels, it’s semiconductors. I know you’re on the board of a semiconductor company. You’re watching that one as well. You optimistic about that?

Lampe-Önnerud: Yeah, I could say I’m optimistic about opportunity. I think it’s for me is a choice now. So I think it’s engagement, and just, scream the facts. Let the facts ring true. It is not true that we have lost the lead on batteries. It is probably true we have lost it on solar and we have lost it on wind. So that’s the data. Now it’s up to us to see what we do. It is also true that the United States is hit for the first time in the last few years with climate events that are very expensive. Our choice, the data is there. I’m from Scandinavia, so if you have a chance to go to Reykjavik in Iceland, you will see actually a big monument that says, “We know. We just don’t know what we did with the knowledge.” That is worth caring. This is our time.

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Murray: Jason Girzadas, the CEO of Deloitte US, is the sponsor of this podcast and joins me today. Welcome, Jason. 

Jason Girzadas: Thank you, Alan. It’s great to be here.

Murray: Jason, we live in an era of disruption. Technology disruption, geopolitical disruption, workplace disruption, and it makes accurate predictions about what’s going to happen in the future more difficult than it has ever been. Yet the polls that we do together with you show that most business leaders largely remain optimistic. Why do you think that is?

Girzadas: I think optimism is a result of fact that we’ve been through an incredibly tumultuous three years. And so I think business leaders realize that they’ve built resiliency into their organizations. The prospect of even more disruption isn’t as foreign of a concept, and I think there’s more confidence in their ability to adapt and to be agile. Secondarily, there’s been tremendous investment in technology, and new capabilities that client organizations and executives broadly are optimistic about those creating more value and more opportunity. So it’s a function of what we’ve been through, as well as the investments that have been made that give a sense of optimism despite some of the headwinds.

Murray: And what’s your advice to companies that are struggling with the potential disruption in the future?

Girzadas: Well, disruption is the new normal. I don’t think there’s any placid water on the horizon or calmness that we can predict. So it’s a function of getting accustomed to the discontinuities that are ahead of us, whether it’s around technology or geopolitical change or workplace changes associated with the future of work or the demands of the talent workforce. Change is the new normal. As a result, it is requiring executive teams to actually look holistically at those challenges, be facile with doing scenario planning, and being on the lookout for where and how to capitalize on disruption, versus being concerned by it or seen as a barrier to their success.

Murray: Jason, thanks for your perspective and thanks for sponsoring Leadership Next.

Girzadas: Thank you.

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Murray: Since you mentioned your childhood, let’s explore that a little bit. You’re in Sweden. How did you become interested in science and batteries? What’s the history of it?

Lampe-Önnerud: Yeah, yeah. I grew up in a little town which was completely dominated by ASEA Brown Boveri, ABB.

Murray: Oh, yeah, sure.

Lampe-Önnerud: And my father was in high-power transmission, but he came from Germany originally, and he had studied Latin and Greek. So we had dinner conversations in Latin and Greek and words—and English—and essays and science.

Murray: Wow.

Lampe-Önnerud: What could you do? So, I grew up knowing that you could do cool things if you cared a little more, if you fought a little harder. And he helped bring ABB in high-powered transmission from 4% market share to 96% market share.

Murray: And no question that that in your mind that you could do it as a woman? Because there weren’t a lot of when you were growing up, there weren’t a lot of female chemists.

Lampe-Önnerud: As long as I was in my father’s shadow, no question.

Murray: No question.

Lampe-Önnerud: The minute I hit grad school, oh, I knew.

Murray: It was different.

Lampe-Önnerud: It’s hard. It’s really.

Murray: Hard. And so how did you survive it?

Lampe-Önnerud: I don’t know if I survived it or, of course, I survived.

Murray: Of course, you survived. I mean, you you came out on top.

Lampe-Önnerud: It’s remarkable. It’s very hard.

Murray: And you have a personality, too, which is not, not—I’m not, not dissing chemists or anything. I’m just saying.

Lampe-Önnerud: The normal thing that people say, Oh, you you don’t strike me like a CEO. You don’t look like a scientist. Oh, okay, great. What does that look like?

Murray: Yes, but now it was not a straight line. I know enough about your background to know you considered some other career choices. You want to talk about those?

Lampe-Önnerud: I love the arts, and I got into a pretty interesting opportunity for the arts, and my parents said no. They said, This is a hard life. You should have music and singing and dancing and all this as your passion. School is too easy for you. We know what you scored on standard exams, and you should go for it.

Murray: They shut you down.

Lampe-Önnerud: Totally. I was 15.

Murray: Were you mad?

Lampe-Önnerud: Oh, just a tad. Very.

Murray: And what was great? What was the opportunity?

Lampe-Önnerud: So they felt like school was so easy, and they felt I had the passion to maybe talk to people. And I grew up in Sweden so the culture is, of course, try to avoid conflict at all costs and try to walk in somebody else’s shoes. And I think they saw an opportunity to do good and do well. And they thought, actually, I think my father especially said, It is not so bad if you are a little different.

Murray: The alternative was you would go to…

Lampe-Önnerud: An opera singer or a jazz singer or something like.

Murray: And at 15, you were angry?

Lampe-Önnerud: Yes.

Murray: How long did it take you to get over that?

Lampe-Önnerud: I still have not gotten over that.

Murray: You’re still involved?

Lampe-Önnerud: I am. I love the arts, so I am, actually. So I guess my revenge is, I’m letting my son pursue a career in music. So he’s at NYU as a musician performing major.

Murray: Okay, cool. And how about you? What? What?

Lampe-Önnerud: So I am singing with an a cappella group. I try to do a few of those things. Yeah.

Murray: You also considered medicine?

Lampe-Önnerud: I did, yeah.

Murray: Because?

Lampe-Önnerud: I come from a small town with perfect grades.

Murray: And that’s what you do?

Lampe-Önnerud: Yeah, that’s what you do.

Murray: You look at medicine. All right, so how did this get you to batteries?

Lampe-Önnerud: I got a scholarship, actually, from Sweden to come to the U.S. for the Sweden America Association. And it was a full ride. Then you can take as many classes as you like. So of course, I took medicine because this was pre-med kind of idea. And the chemistry professor, Dr. Butti, was very charming, and said, you could make some experiments, that it was very different than medicine, which was very study this, read it back to me. And chemistry was like, solve this problem. Oh, I don’t know if that’s right or not. What did the science say? What did the data say? So, to me, that was so, so interesting. And I grew up in Sweden, so skiing is kind of second language for us. Yeah. And I joined the ski team and it was only guys, it was my first opportunity in the U.S. to have this. Basically, I looked differently. I had an accent, I was different. But when it came to skiing, it didn’t matter? And with that, I went back to Sweden afterwards, finished my Ph.D., and came back to MIT for a post-doc.

Murray: But that means you spent a lot of time in rooms that were all guys.

Lampe-Önnerud: Yeah.

Murray: And what was your method for navigating that?

Lampe-Önnerud: So I don’t know that I’m such an expert at this. I think it’s like this, when you need something, I learned everything on the high school dance floor, full dance card.

So you’re going to have ideas. You have to have friends in the room. Very difficult now when I’m kind of in the middle of my life. I fight to have other women in the room as well. Yeah, I did well with my previous company as a sponsor, a big campaign called Women 2020, which was 20% on public boards. We’re now above 20% on public boards. And it’s very interesting, I serve on the MIT Visiting Committee, which is the audit body. And first time I was in the situation there were only two women, and now there are four women. But when you have two, you can repeat some of the language. It’s something how we speak or how we approach sometimes where it’s not heard. So a few friends, and maybe a few different thinkers, is helpful.

Murray: So talk about Cadenza, your current company. What is it? What’s it trying to do? How does it differ from Boston-Power?

Lampe-Önnerud: So, Boston-Power solved basically the idea of fast charging portable electronics and expanded into EVs. Exiting out to EVs. We were in 30 different EV models, and we went from cell all the way to [inaudible] electronics. So, we had to take it much further than we thought. It was much more complicated for the industry. Stepping off that, I actually did a stint with Ray Dalio at Bridgewater, which I loved. I had the office next to him. I think he’s awesome. I learned so much. That’s great.

Murray: Radical transparency.

Lampe-Önnerud: You got it. Which is easy if you operate from data. Very easy. And then I started this company on the side, and I said to Ray even, like, I have this idea, if I could contribute with lower cost and batteries that can’t explode, and I can cater the performance to what this electricity infrastructure play might be one day, my dream would be to put Lego blocks of energy into everybody’s hand. Make it so easy, plug and play. You have $100 today. You can buy one battery, you have $200 next day, you can buy two more, something like that. And I think now I’m just delighted we are realizing this idea with virtual power plants. We put one battery rack in that closetl and one in thatl and one in that, and five in the basement, and voila. Not only do you have backup power for your critical circuits, but you can trade electrons with the grid when the grid gets stressed. And because some of the policy in some of our states in the United States, I think this is going to get harmonized. This is actually why I’m hopeful, the payback on those investments can be as short as three years, and over the 10 to 15 years, the [inaudible] are spectacular. They outperform Wall Street. So, yes.

Murray: So that that gets to sort of a fundamental question. I mean, all of us with iPhones, you know, spend our days running around saying, oh, is there is there a plug in the wall somewhere where I can get a little electricity to make it through the rest of the day? And EVs are having trouble because of range anxiety and, you know, I can’t get my truck to my my ranch. Are we on the verge of a breakthrough in battery technology that’s going to not make that what seems to be the limiting factor in everything, right?

Lampe-Önnerud:  Yeah, I think so. I think there are two things. So Cadenza Innovation has made two investments. One is in batteries that don’t explode. I know you’re smiling, but like it’s a problem.

Murray: It is a problem. They don’t let you check your bag…

Lampe-Önnerud: And it is so simple. You don’t have to be a scientist. I’m sure some of you are scientifically inclined, but it’s so simple. We solved the problem. We just don’t have enough gas that can get ignited. So if you can shut off the battery before it has enough gas, you’re fine. You have solved it on first principle and then lower the cost like crazy. And then the second investment we did was in cloud. So when you can simplify communications so you don’t have to be a software engineer, it becomes intuitive, it’s simple and it’s cheap. And I can load it on your cell phone. And just like what happened with solar panels, I don’t know—I have 99 solar panels on my house, and when I first got that, we loaded it on the kids app and they went to school. It’s like we saved 65 trees this year. That’s so cool. Like, it becomes personal.

Like, you make these choices, and you have the data. So, all of a sudden, for the need to expand the grid where we’re just using more and more and more energy, yes, batteries will do arbitrage. They can be basically level the grid against traditional grid or sustainable resources. Either or. But the most important is, we give you the data. Yeah, it’s too late, when you get it a month later in a bill is almost meaningless. But if you have it at your fingertips, our moms were right. We should shut the lights when we get out. But we should do it. We should run the dishwasher at night. We should run our laundry at night. We should be careful with A/C. Just have it idle. And the peak of the stress, most stressful part of our grid is typically between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m., but the peak in areas like New York City, is 12 noon to midnight. So this is complicated. We will need multiple technologies. They’re going to be a lot of winners in the space.

Murray: Fascinating. Fascinating. So I have three last questions for you. First, the big one: Will we, in your view, based on what you know about technology, achieve net zero by 2050?

Lampe-Önnerud: We could, is the easiest answer.

Murray: But will we? We could, if we do the right things.

Lampe-Önnerud: Yeah. By 2050. Yeah, I would think so.

Murray: Yeah. And do you think we’re doing the right things? Are we headed?

Lampe-Önnerud: I think so. I think it’s actually unrecognized how many developments are happening under the radar?

Murray: Yeah, yeah, actually, it feels like—it feels like a sea change in the last five years. Yeah.

Lampe-Önnerud: I also believe that 2050 is, I would say, 100% is always very, very hard. Yeah. But say like 90%. Absolutely. Why? Because we’re lower cost.

Murray: Yeah. Interesting. Second question. What’s your favorite opera?

Lampe-Önnerud: Oh well, that’s difficult. I have many. Maybe The Magic Flute, because I grew up with that one.

Murray: What? Okay, now this is the moment when you should sing a bit.

Lampe-Önnerud: All right, let’s not do that.

Murray: All right, then, the last question: What’s the what’s the book you’ve read recently? We’ve been asking everybody on the podcast this question. What’s a book you’ve read relatively recently that inspired you, changed your mind about something, had an impact on you?

Lampe-Önnerud: I read many books. Hmm. Maybe Sapiens is still the most mind-shifting for me. I think it’s amazing when you boil it down, and you kind of step away, all of it, and just go, Huh?

Murray: Christina, such a great conversation. It’s always inspiring to talk to you, and really impressive what you’re doing. Thank you so much.

Lampe-Önnerud: Thank you, Alan. You’re a superstar. Well, thank you.

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Leadership Next is edited and produced by Nicole Vergalla. Our theme is by Jason Snell. Our executive producer is Megan Arnold. Leadership Next is a product of Fortune Media.

Leadership Next episodes are produced by Fortune‘s editorial team. The views and opinions expressed by podcast speakers and guests are solely their own and do not reflect the opinions of Deloitte or its personnel. Nor does Deloitte advocate or endorse any individuals or entities featured on the episodes.

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