Share this:
  • photo of Pedro J. Pizarro
    Pedro J. Pizarro
07/24/2018 18:13:22

Pedro J. Pizarro Elected as New Caltech Trustee

The energy executive has brought a background in science to his long career in business.

Pedro J. Pizarro (PhD '94), president and chief executive officer of Edison International, has been elected to the Institute's Board of Trustees.

Pizarro, who spent his early years in Puerto Rico and now calls Pasadena home, earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry at Harvard University. After completing doctoral studies at Caltech, also in chemistry, he worked with the global consulting firm McKinsey & Company, advising energy, technology, engineering, and banking clients.

He joined Edison International in 1999.

Pizarro has served in a number of leadership roles at the company, including as president of Southern California Edison—one of the nation's largest electric utilities—from 2014 to 2016.

In addition to Caltech's Board of Trustees, Pizarro also serves on the boards of Argonne National Laboratory, the Electric Power Research Institute, and the Edison Electric Institute.

He is one of two individuals to have joined Caltech's governing body in recent months. The Board is led by David L. Lee (PhD '74), chair, and Ronald K. Linde (MS '62, PhD '64), vice chair. It is currently composed of 44 trustees, 26 senior trustees, 21 life members, and one honorary life member.

Pizarro recently reflected on his career in energy and his connection to Caltech.

How did you get into your line of work?

I was interested in science from a young age and started Harvard as a premed student. However, midway through college I realized I enjoyed more quantitative physical sciences and decided to instead pursue a PhD in chemistry (chemical physics). I started at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, then transferred after one year to Caltech in order to follow my then girlfriend—now my wife of 29 years, Monica Kohler (PhD '95), Caltech research professor of Mechanical and Civil Engineering. Upon completing my PhD, I declined a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellowship at MIT to become a management consultant at McKinsey. I was attracted to business by its potential for large-scale impact and its emphasis on teamwork. Then, after nearly six years, I was recruited by one of my clients, Edison International. Similarly, I was attracted by the broad impact of electric power across society. We power our portion of the world's fifth largest economy and are a key force behind California's ambitions to address climate change through greenhouse gas reduction. I was fortunate to take on different executive roles across the business every few years and even more fortunate to be named CEO in 2016.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

I enjoy my work, in particular our Edison team's sense of societal mission and public service within an innovative Fortune 250 company. That said, my true love is spending time with my family. Other fun activities include running 20 miles a week to keep myself healthy and sane, and the occasional day (perhaps once every three or four months) when I can make dough and sauces from scratch, fire up our wood oven to 800 degrees, and bake Neapolitan pizzas.

How did you become interested in Caltech?

I was first drawn to Caltech by its world-class graduate program—and, as I noted above, by my wife (then girlfriend) deciding to attend. I appreciate Caltech's innovation, excellence, and unique ability to stimulate collaboration among scientists across different fields.

Written by Jennifer Torres Siders