Switching to Renewable Energy – Part II

I went to a Haas Energy Club (BERC) event yesterday. I suddenly realized that I am on the other side of the table now – instead of talking to people “in the industry”, I belong to it and was supposed to impart wisdom to students who are still trying to make a switch to renewable energy 🙂

In one of those chats, I was questioned about the profiles that would be a good fit in renewable energy. This is important to know since most of us do not come from a power engineering or a semiconductor background to make an “obvious fit”. Knowing your transferable skills is key to be able to tailor your resume and highlight projects that reflect those skills, so it makes sense to a recruiter in renewable energy. Four such profiles are:

Sales: If you have done sales, you can always sell something else. Most sales people know this – so I will not belabor the point. It’s easier though if you have done B2B sales since many non-residential sales are a multi-week/month sales process and knowing how to navigate through the sales cycle and the organization is key skill.

Technical Application: I seem to be getting pushed into this direction because of my technical background. I don’t remember when I had to last use laws of thermodynamics in a professional setting. Interestingly, I remember more than I ever thought from those classes in undergrad that I never paid any attention in. I am sure that is the case with many ex-engineers. Understanding the technology helps in competitive analysis, market analysis and even speaking to prospects. These are typically bucketed in “biz dev” but instead of talking in pure $ or cost-benefit, if you can tailor your experience to demonstrate that you can understand and apply new technology – that would be useful.

Financial Modeling: All renewable energy needs money and most companies selling technology have none. So money needs to come from outside – venture capitalists, private equity, banks, government, etc. All these institutions need to see models highlighting the assumptions that the renewable energy company is making to claim the “low-cost energy source” that they make. So if you can highlight any excel or deal structuring skills – that would be useful. The two companies that I have worked in have separate departments for the financial modeling for cost/benefits of the technology.

Regulatory/Policy/Government: I am clubbing these together – and I am sure there is a lot of difference in each of these, but the idea is that in renewable energy the macroeconomic context matters – unlike software or other non-regulated industries. So if you have had an opportunity to work with government officials, any policy issues within external organizations, telecommunication which is semi-regulated or perhaps a regulated industry in another country – then those skills can be useful in renewable energy.

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