GeekyForester.com is the brainchild of Daniel Crawford. The site is a hub of my thoughts and things that are interesting to me.
Note: GeekyForester.com is a side project and is secondary to my primary responsibilities with my employer.
When people ask me what I do for a living, I generally say:
“I’m a forester and a finance professional.”
After completing my forestry degree at Auburn University, I began my career as a timberland appraiser for James W Sewall Company based in Charlotte, North Carolina where I learned the methodologies for completing complex timberland valuations for the TIMO industry’s managed assets. In my time at Sewall, I not only completed valuations in the US Southeast, but also in the US Northwest, the Lake States, and in Uruguay. I also worked on two special projects for a prominent timber REIT in support of acquisition due diligence and analysis. My experience with Sewall gave me a firm understanding of cash flow modeling, asset due diligence, market due diligence, and many other elements that I believe fundamentally provided a proper foundation for my eventual career endeavors.
I transitioned to my role at Hancock Forest Management (now Manulife), with intentionality, to better understand the impacts of active forestland management techniques and their implication on asset value. In addition to my responsibilities in support of the silviculture program for the US Southeast forest management program, I also had the opportunity to manage the ongoing annual SFI and FSC certification projects for the region (including assets in the Northeast). The FSC certification process was particularly rewarding because I was a member of a small team responsible for achieving the initial certification for investor assets in New York and Pennsylvania.
In late 2011, I was offered a position with Resource Management Service (RMS) in a role similar to my role at Hancock, but positioned at the corporate office in my hometown of Birmingham, Alabama. This role gave me exposure to a broader perspective of the many different business segments within a vertically integrated TIMO. In my role as Silviculture Decision Support Analyst, I worked across all levels of the organization in support of the corporate level strategies for actively managed forests and provided guidance for the forest operations staff as to which applications were most appropriate across the management footprint based on investor objectives. I was also responsible for university research cooperative engagement, assisting with the purchase of herbicides and fertilizers for the entire management program, and working with seedling vendors to secure more than 30+ million seedlings for planting each year. As a member of the company’s technical team, I was able to leverage the experience of colleagues to become proficient in the use of ArcGIS and Microsoft SQL. Along the way, I developed automated data decision algorithms to assist in annual silvicultural prescriptions. One such project was creating a Leaf Area Index analysis process using remote sensing to support fertilization decisions to ensure assets only received nutrition when necessary.
I transitioned to the Investment Management side of the business in 2015 as a Portfolio Manager, where I was responsible for the oversight of a previously established commingled fund strategy with five timberland assets across four countries (Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, and China). In my somewhat short tenure in this role, I learned how to communicate with institutional investors and work internally to ensure assets were managed in alignment with the investment objectives. In addition to authoring frequent investor reports and supporting ongoing investor inquiries, I spent a material amount of effort working with local, in-country colleagues in support of the work being implemented.
In 2017, I stepped into a Business Development Associate role with a focus towards the fundraising and new business aspects of the business. I spent the next two years learning and shadowing the companies leadership team and provided background support for the company’s capital development initiatives. In January 2020, I transitioned to a new manager position, further focusing my responsibilities towards the company’s client service & business development initiatives. In this role, I now oversaw a small team and worked collaboratively across business units to oversee day-to-day interactions with current investors and, in collaboration with company leadership, had responsibility for new fundraising initiatives.
In 2022, I departed my position from RMS (and sold my ownership stake), and joined Finite Carbon as the Director of Acquisitions where I contribute to strategy development for existing deal structures and on the acquisition of new business. I’m very pleased to grow and learn through this exciting opportunity and to help innovate carbon and related financial tools resulting in environmental and economic gains.