Ben Gordon, MDP
  1. Operations management
  2. Financial innovation
  3. Research and analysis
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I want to mobilize my academic research in the economics of technology adoption, agritech, and supply chains along with my community development finance work towards innovative companies and cities. I can add value through my ability to create decision-making frameworks, research topics and provide feedback, manage internal operations, help navigate tools and financial mechanisms, and, importantly, take action and implement ideas and plans. I'm a flexible and adaptable team player who thrives in complex and fast-paced environments. I hope you'll take a moment to read a bit more about my background.

By working with the leading agricultural economist, I was able to research how innovations are commercialized, brought to market and scaled drawing on many disciplines. By organizing workshops and conferences, I extended this investigation to many fields of natural resource use. In addition, I advised on every aspect and filled key program and development roles of a youth leadership NGO from start-up to $2mm revenue working with 40 schools in 3 countries.

Through my work I have developed meaningful relationships in academia and industry, which can help development efforts for innovative companies. I graduated from Brown University in 2005 with a BA in Organization Studies, from UC Berkeley in 2016 with a Masters of Development Practice; and was accepted to the PhD in Agricultural and Resource Economics at UC Berkeley (but moved to Los Angeles).


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Research - Agricultural Economics

My work with Professor David Zilberman, the leading agricultural economist, has been on economic theory and surveys of technology adoption, supply chains, sustainable development, biotechnology in agriculture, and water. (Links to publications below)

I've assisted on over 25 papers and am co-author on 10 papers, including: (i) economics of sustainable development and precision agriculture (ii) micro climate engineering techniques in perennial agriculture, (iii) what the economics of technology adoption tells us about autonomous vehicles, (iv) political economy of food labeling and biotechnology, and (v) surveys of agricultural development and agritech.

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Finance Experience

I served as analyst and portfolio manager for a structured investment portfolio to affordable housing and community facilities developers and private equity funds at Charles Schwab Bank (2010-2013) and Merrill Lynch Bank (2007-2009). My two primary achievements were: (i) taking on significant responsibility of portfolio management, including credit analysis and client communication, of our investment portfolios early on at Schwab; and (ii) creating a pro forma and analytical tool for our portfolio's impact on Schwab Bank, which had me meeting with the Bank CFO on a periodic basis - not common at Schwab for Manager-level personnel. 

On nights and weekends, I worked directly with the founder and Executive Director of Global Student Embassy, on all aspects of organization management, growth and fundraising to help grow it to a $2 million NGO working in three countries with over 50 schools and universities. As board member, I led budget discussions and helped map strategy and planning to financial projections for this growing organization dedicated to creating outdoor learning space for youth to engage with the ecological challenges of the 21st century.


Conferences and Workshops

I've played a key role in organizing the 20th International Consortium of Applied Bioeconomy Research ( and the 1st and 2nd annual Agrifood Supply Chain conference. I led much of the logistics for the Bioeconomy conference in Berkeley in 2017 which brought in 150 academics and professionals over three days with presentations on frontier knowledge in biotechnology and bioeconomy applications in agriculture. These conferences are an excellent venue for information transfer between academia, industry and NGOs.



I'm co-author on 10 papers, including: (i) economics of sustainable development and precision agriculture, (ii) micro-climate engineering techniques in perennial agriculture, (iii) political economy of biotechnology, and (iv) surveys of agricultural development and agritech.

Three papers are forthcoming, two of which I am first author, on what the economics of technology adoption tells us about autonomous vehicles, a survey of innovation and supply chains in California agriculture, the political economy of food labeling and a history of California water.


Recent Developments in the California Food and Agricultural Technology Landscape

Three years ago, a global assessment of all industries revealed that food and agriculture had dramatically lagged in the adoption of digital technologies. Recent emerging trends in venture funding for innovative agricultural technologies hope to change this assessment and may well alter California’s food and agriculture technology sector. This article investigates those venture-backed, California-based companies that are engaged at various points in the food and agriculture supply chain.

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Economics of Sustainable Development and the Bioeconomy

Sustainable development can be attained by policies that are derived by analyses that integrate biophysical considerations into economic models. We show that policies and incentives that correct market failure can attain sustainable development through enhancing conservation, recycling, the use of renewable resources, and development of the bioeconomy, which relies on biological processes and feedstock to produce renewable products. The design of sustainable development policies and analysis of the bioeconomy pose new challenges to applied economists, who are uniquely qualified to integrate economic analysis with biophysical considerations.

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Conclusion to Bioenergy Economics and Policy

Agriculture has had a high rate of technological change during much of the 20th century. Every few decades a new sector is added to agriculture and affects the rest of the agricultural sector, primarily by adding a competing demand for land and affecting the prices of crops. The biofuel sector was introduced within the past thirty years and expanded during the first two decades of the 21st century. With advances in molecular biology, the bioeconomy has expanded and is likely to grow further.


Can Micro-Climate Engineering Save California Pistachios?

Joaquin Valley is threatened by warming winters. Researchers found a way to lower tree temperatures during the winter, a solution concept we term “Micro-Climate Engineering.” We assess the economic gains from this innovation at $1-4 billion yearly in 2030. We believe this type of solution will play a major role in climate change adaptation. This solution may also have other applications in perennial crops both to address warmer winter temperatures as well as increased pest pressure, both of which are areas for new research.


How Politics and Economics Affect Irrigation and Conservation

A growing population and rising incomes have challenged agricultural supply and led to drastic increases in irrigated agriculture, which can produce yields two to four times greater than rain-fed agriculture. However, there is a perceived crisis in water availability and a growing need to develop solutions that will increase supply and reduce water demand. This article argues that much of the current water situation is a reflection of institutional and political arrangements. It focuses on the dynamics of water products and water rights systems in agriculture, as well as the challenges associated with introducing and adopting water conservation methods in agriculture and why their performance varies across regions. 


Innovations in Response to Climate Change: Climate Smart Agriculture

Climate change impacts on agriculture are varied over space and time. Innovation in agriculture is clearly an important response for effective & equitable adaptation & mitigation. We need to rethink how to promote innovation to address heterogeneity & uncertainty of climate change impacts. In moving towards climate smart systems in developing & developed countries, institutional and technological innovation will be key. Innovation can enhance technology adoption, may prevent or facilitate migration of production/population, enhance trade & aid, and increase efficiency of insurance & feasibility of inventories. 

Food beliefs and food supply chains: The impact of religion

This paper demonstrates that religion and religiosity affect norms, which affect food consumption patterns and production. Heterogeneity and asymmetric information lead to multiple certification channels as well as multiple supply chains. Technological change affects norms and thus the food system. We obtain these results by analyzing the food systems for meat products in Israel where there are three religions – Jews, Muslims, and Christians – and people assign themselves three levels of religiosity – secular, conservative, and orthodox. The immigration of secular Jews from Russia led to the proliferation of non-Kosher supply chains and products. New technologies and higher incomes led to emergence of fast food chains serving orthodox Jews that had previously tended to eat at home.

Other experience and life moments


Charles Schwab: Manager (Community Development Analyst), San Francisco, Aug 2010–Dec 2013 - Building on my 15 months at Merrill Lynch Bank in NY, I continued my experience in structured real estate finance and risk assessment. I designed financial models and pro formas for group’s loans and investments creating and utilizing large datasets with 20-plus variables. As our team's junior manager, I wrote quarterly and annual analysis of 20 non-profit partners (real estate developers and community service providers), liaised with 15 internal partners, including Accounting, Treasury, Compliance, and Bank Operations, and created and maintained quarterly reporting of Community Development portfolio to senior management.

Board Vice Chair and Volunteer: Global Student Embassy, Sebastopol, CA, May 2009 – Present - After returning from Nicaragua and Peru in 2010, I began realizing two brothers and close friends were serious about growing an NGO. We lived together and I spent most nights after work strategizing, writing grants, designing programs, and talking to students about GSE. One aspect of the work that is difficult to describe are the daily conversations I had with the founder and Executive Director. It was through these conversations, often late into the night, that I learned the most about how the allocate time and resources during the early stages of a company.

Director: Brown University Entrepreneurship Program, 2002 – 2006 (Director: May 2005 – June 2006) - for 15 months, I led a young student-run NGO during a time that the university wanted to take over its important functions. I cobbled together a 20 person student team and convinced alumni Board members not to jump ship. Working around the clock, I led our student team to hosting competitions and events at par with previous years, fended off university takeover attempts through strategic appeals to deans and alumni, and helped raise the organization's first direct endowment.

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After blowing all my bar mitzvah money on a Gateway laptop that was half the price six months later, I resolved to save money in every conceivable way until I bought a house to renovate. I slept on floors, couches, basements, and shared rooms with three people. In 2014, my dream materialized after a 33 year resident of the cottage on Opal St I had bought agreed to leave and let me move in. For the next 5 months, thick in the first year of my masters program, I gut renovated a 1947 cottage with a 1907 water tower along with a good friend and rag-tag team of contractors. Reflecting back, I realize that the universe knows how much I like layering distinct and difficult projects - why else would this opportunity directly coincide with the most challenging semester of graduate school (I even took a semester of Mandarin) and a rough patch at GSE! I'll do it again in a heartbeat. 

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In 2009, after 3 years in NYC working in community development finance by day and co-hosting large dinner parties almost night, I left the country for Peru and Nicaragua. I wanted to witness how community development happened in a rural setting and to become fluent in Spanish. By connecting the dots between a few friends, I was blessed to meet Conchita in Chacraseca, Nicaragua. At first I was an odd case, because I didn't have an "agenda" and wasn't affiliated with any project or organization - this was by design. Within a few weeks, Conchita handed me the keys one morning and asked me if I knew how to drive. That was the beginning to the most inspiring, educational and memorable experience I have had in development work. Conchita was a true community organizer - the key contact for a NY-based NGO building houses, the head of three business associations, and social worker to several single mothers in her town. This relationship helped foster the entrance into Nicaragua of Global Student Embassy, the youth leadership organization I have worked with for almost 10 years now. 

Ben at El Tour

I started biking and running when I was four, and won my first award for being the youngest to complete the 25 mile race as part of the El Tour de Tucson. I'm guessing the running and biking were the only way to get out the ridiculous amount of energy I had that my parents, and especially teachers, had no idea how to handle.