Profile of the monthMay 2016: Business, marketing and strategy analyst, Areva
1) What is your background and what led you to your current job?
I graduated from ECE Paris, a French school of engineering which focuses on cutting edge technologies where I majored in embedded systems and minored in robotics with an expertise in computer vision. I've always wanted to be involved in critical projects that give meaning to what I do. So I started to work in the health care sector as an embedded software engineer intern to upgrade a portable and intelligent personal ECG Monitor for the early detection of cardiac ischaemia and arrhythmia. I then had my first professional experience with a company that develops the air traffic control towers for the French army, also as a software engineer. But after 2 years, as I matured, I felt ready to move forward. I wanted to work abroad and handle more responsibilities and have a bigger impact. With the world becoming more aware of our environment and nations defining precise sustainable development goals, the opportunity to work at AREVA Taiwan in the nuclear and renewable energy domain seems to be the perfect fit. So today I am a business, marketing and strategy analyst who supports Taipower Company in their projects.
2) What are your duties and responsibilities and challenges you are facing?
The development of energy technologies is critical for a country on many aspects: political, environmental, economic, social and financial. For Taiwan, where the energy is 98% imported with no grid connection with the neighboring nations, which means it is energy dependent, the challenges are even bigger. The Fukushima nuclear accident in March 2011 worsened the situation as strong anti nuclear opposition rose. So since 2011 and the Paris COP21, the Taiwanese Government has to find a solution to supply the population and industries with sufficient energy with no nuclear, less fossil fuels but at a cheap price to support the growing economy. So, in my position, I have to gather market information and produce business and financial analysis to help my company's leaders and the clients make thoughtful decisions. Each solution AREVA offers has to be compliant with the clients and the government (hence public) expectations and be viable in the long term with general safety as the first priority. In that regard, marketing and communication with the clients or the population represent another big part of the job. These tasks are more difficult than I first imagined as it requires to deal with information very carefully and to have a broad knowledge base of international and local Laws and regulations. To another extent, I also work with my company's country leader to support our foreign experts to develop new and existing businesses. It includes attending energy (both nuclear and wind) conferences, visiting the nuclear plants, supporting the creations of new collaborations, giving assistance in the tendering process and contract negotiations.
3) How do you see the evolution of your career (job content, geographical mobility, etc.)?
I have the chance to work directly with Taiwan's general manager and be part of a small team (only 3 people) but to cover a wide range of activities with a support function. This particular situation let me handle various tasks, as mentioned above, and learn from different perspectives. As thus, with the quick development of green energy, in the future, I think I would be able to take the lead in the decision making process, as a business and strategy manager or director.
On the geographical mobility question, the energy industry offers great opportunities to work with colleagues from different countries such as the USA, Germany, China, Japan and of course France. But chances to travel and work in foreign countries are also very important.
4) Given your background, in which other sectors can you also work?
I have personally worked in the health care, military and energy sectors but I could also work in transportation, aerospace or finance sectors or any other field. The nature of my degree and expertise provide me with a large range of possibilities and take either technical or functional positions.
5) What advice would you give someone who wishes to join your sector (wind power) sector?
As the political, financial, economical and environmental factors are really important in this sector, I would suggest someone who wants to join the sector to develop his/her curiosity and critical sense on these aspects. I would also recommend to have a strong ability to communicate on different levels. But this is true for everyone in general.
February 2016: Sales and Marketing Director Solar Salts
1. What is your background?
I studied Geology Sciences at the University in Sicily, Italy. I followed my girlfriend and came to Belgium at the age of 24. Upon my arrival I took some intensive Dutch language courses as this is a prerequisite to find a job in Belgium. I came across a position at Dupont de Nemours. They were looking for a native Italian speaker with technical background to help them with the delocalisation of some of their businesses. For four years, I worked in three different divisions. I am now working in Antwerp for a mining company.
2. What is your role and responsibilities and what led you to your current position?
My current title is Sales and Marketing Director Solar Salts. I am responsible for the industrial sales covering markets in Europe, the middle-East and South Africa. This was a new position that came with the development of the CSP industry as there was no CSP plant being built (commercial ones) before 2007. I showed interest for it and management decided to offer me the position which requires strong technical background and commercial competencies.
Prior to taking up this position, I was already working in the company, responsible for the sales of nitrates and lithium in the industrial market (Molten salts are an end-use of these nitrates that my company produces).
3. How do you see the evolution of your career?
I am happy to take up new challenges linked to this new position. However the weak point is to depend entirely on this (one line of) business but I am willing to take the risk as it has lots of potential and is for a good purpose. We are at the moment a team of two people. The plan is to build a larger division but it takes time. The uncertainty of the solar thermal market is making it difficult to guaranty the continuity of existing jobs and predict future workload. For the moment, many companies in the sector are adopting a wait & see position.
4. In which other sector(s) can you work?
Given my experience and background, I could work in any sector where technical and commercial skills are required such as the chemical industry for instance. The solar thermal sector is a hands-on industry where time management, organizational skills and willingness to learn are valued.
5. What advice would you give someone who wishes to join the solar thermal electricity sector?
Two main piece of advises:
a. Value the flexibility during the first years of a career. Be open to learning opportunities and absorb as much as possible
b. Be humble and keep your feet on the ground
Soft skills are important in life. The right personality can be more value than technical skills which can always be learnt on the job.
Picture: Salt by kevin dooley via flickr
January 2016: Chief sales & Marketing Officer, Solar sector
1. What is your background?
Mechanical Engineer and MBA
2. What led you to your current position and what are your responsibilities?
Trajectory of techno-commercial jobs including project management and business development in different companies, since 10 yrs. in solar energy. Current responsibilities: entire M&S portfolio of our group of companies.
3. How do you see the evolution of your career in the sector?
The renewable energy sector is developing extremely fast providing energy solutions for tomorrow with decreasing prices, local socio-economic development and clean solutions.
4. Given your background, in which other sectors can you also work?
Any sector where technical solutions need to be commercialised, as long as you are open and flexible to adapt to new situations.
5. What advice would you give someone who wishes to join the Solar Thermal Electricity sector?
Not specific for the Solar Thermal Electricity sector but in general. Know and be yourself and your strengths at all times and built your relationship and knowhow from there. Experience comes with the years. In case the technology and solutions Solar Thermal provide (dispatchable clean energy solutions and local socioeconomic development) interest you, it will be easy to learn fast and earn your position since the market grows so fast.
December 2015: Area manager/business developer, hydropower
1. What is your background (trainings, experience)?
I am an electrical engineer with specialization in renewable energy sources. I graduated in 2007 from ENSE3, formerly ENSIEG, a school part of "Grenoble INP” engineering schools network. After a BA in Mathematics and preparatory courses in Mathematics and physics, I passed a competitive exam. The high scores I obtained at this exam allowed me to choose the university where I wanted to study and given my interest in renewable energy, I joined ENSE3.
2. What led you to your current job?
My first professional experience (6 months internship) was with Bouygues, a building construction company. I joined as an assistant project manager for infrastructure project (road tunnels). There, coached by a senior staff, I learnt to choose suppliers, to manage planning and studies, contracts etc.
Following the internship, I was hired to work in the Bouygues building department for industrial services in charge of Energy. During the 3 year-time, I managed my own projects (construction of a private clinic in Chambery, refurbishment of hotel in Courchevel. I was particularly in charge of the bidding process and the completion of contracts.
While these first experiences were very enriching, I wished to return to my initial interest; to work in the renewable energy field. I quickly found a position as project manager at the EDF energies nouvelles in Paris working first with PV projects. Back in 2010, there were lots of interest and we had about 200 projects to complete. I was particularly in charge of building solar farms for industrial roof tops. But in 2012, the legislation became less favorable with subsidy cuts and so after completing my last PV project in 2012, I worked for a year on wind farms.
In mid-2014, after 5 years spent in Paris, I felt the need to go back to my sources. I was able to transfer to another role within EDF and became Business Developer for hydropower energy.
3. What is your role and responsibilities and what are the challenges in your job?
I am new in the hydropower sector but I had already previous professional experience within the EDF group. I joined in mid 2014 the hydropower unit so I have now been working for 1.5 years as area manager/business developer. While this is a commercial role, there are some similar tasks with the previous roles I performed at EDF Energies nouvelles. For exemple the contacts with investers, bidding processes, collaboration with partners… and project management aspects are also very present in my current job.
My current challenge is to win new contracts and to develop business in France, Switzerland and Belgium.
4. What do you like in your job?
What I particularly like in my job is dealing with a multitude of different projects. I find it very interesting to discuss with clients. And working for a big group such as EDF brings many advantages with regards to availability of resources and careers opportunities. As a big utilities company, EDF offers a whole scope of activities one can choose from.
5. How do you see the evolution of your job (technological, market trend, trainings needs, policies, legislation, etc…)?
My objective is to develop more activities, more contracts but technical skills training would be very helpful in my current job as our activities concern many refurbishment projects. I have so far received a one-week general introduction course and I believe additional training will be beneficial. I have already made the request for technical training.
6. What quality and competencies should a person possess to perform your job (soft skills, core, functional, technical skills, etc…)?
To perform my job, the person is required to have a good knowledge of the sector. This knowledge could be acquired by first joining an engineering unit or company and start by learning the design of hydropower plants.
Many projects are now in Africa and Asia so if you are interested in joining the sector, you have to be ready to travel and live in different part of the world.
November 2015: Business Developer, hydropower
1) What is your background and what led you to your current job?
I'm an Industrial Engineer and I have always been working in Sales since I finished my degree. I've been selling electronic components for different international distributors but one year ago I joined Gamesa Electric because I prefer to work for an electromechanical equipment manufacturer in the Renewable Energy sector.
2) What are your responsibilities and duties at your current job?
We supply the electric generator for the hydropower station, usually to the turbine manufacturer. It's a very interesting job because we sell a critical equipment in the project and we have to be in contact with our customers all over the world. Of course, we have a lot of competitors so each project is a real challenge.
3) How do you see the evolution of your job and of your career (what has changed from when you first joined Gamesa)?
I've been working only for a year so it's a bit soon for me to talk about what has changed since I joined Gamesa Electric. What I have seen during the last years is that nowadays we have to focus on international business instead of local business. We have to change our mind and try to work in this way if we want to have a successful future in sales.
4) What skills and competences should a person possess to do your job?
Technical background, positive and enthusiastic, organized, results oriented, communication skills.
5) What advice would you give a candidate who wishes to join the hydropower sector?
Hydropower is a very interesting renewable energy for the future so maybe specific training about this kind of energy would be a remarkable feature. Inside hydropower sector you can work in different areas (project management, sales, finance, equipment design...) so first of all think about what you want to do inside this sector and after that start contacting companies with this activity. Maybe some of the biggest companies have training programs to get into this sector and start working on it.
October 2015: Environmental geologist
The environment geologist profile is situated at the project development phase of the geothermal value chain (i.e. site assessment or environmental impact assessment) and will enable the development of further RE activities.
1)What is your background and what led you to your current job?
Already in high school, I realized I had some affinity with maths and sciences,particularly biology so when I enrolled at university, biology was naturally my first choice. Later I switched majors for a silly personal reason and graduated four years later with a Bsc. in geology with a major in environmental geochemistry. Looking back, I had no idea that an interest in biology will lead me to a career in geology!
I am now working for an environmental consulting firm as an environmental geologist.
2)What are your duties and responsibilities and what is your working environment like?
As an environmental geologist, I study the earth with the specific focus of understanding human interactions with the land, particularly as a means to predict or anticipate geological issues and provide information to help minimize impacts on the environment.
My job keeps me in the field most of the time for instance, examining commercial and industrial buildings for PCBs, asbestos and improperly dumped chemicals or overseeing the removal of underground tanks.This also includes collecting soil, sediment, and rock samples, recording geophysical measurements using field instrument. But I work also sometimes from the office preparing reports or in the laboratory analyzing samples I have previously collected.
3)What do you like in your job?
What I like in my job is first the mixed working environment and the fact that each case comes with its own specificity and challenges. My job is therefore never boring!
4)What skills and competences should a person possess to work as an environmental geologist?
The work I do requires well-developed investigative skills. People skills are also high on the list because you have to be reassuring, firm and fair in dealing with clients. When I return to the office, interpretation skills come into play. You have to combine evidence from sources such as samples, historical research, aerial photographs and interviews to form a complete picture of a particular site.
5)What advice would you give to someone who wishes to work in the sector?
Be curious, passionate and do not be afraid to fail. Good luck!
September 2015: Energy auditor