If you are fortunate enough to be located in one of the InnoEnergy co-locations, you may have had the chance to collaborate on an opportunity between CommUnity Members in the IE staff and Master’s students. If you have been in the Barcelona area for studies or business, you may have had the opportunity to meet Montse Gelonch and Monica Mejli, two of the newest CommUnity Representatives working in the Barcelona office. As true models of the spirit which the CommUnity seeks to inspire, Montse and Monica have been very active proponents for the CommUnity since its inception. During a casual lunchtime coffee at the InnoEnergy offices, the CommUnity Post was able to catch up with them.
Montse Gelonch is the InnoEnergy Iberia CEO Assistant in Barcelona. As part of her busy role, she provides logistics and legal documents, and is the bridge between InnoEnergy and its partners. On top of this, she manages the stakeholders, bookkeeping and office. She has been with InnoEnergy for over three years seeing the company from its early stages. According to Montse, “I’ve seen the idea of the CommUnity, and now it’s a reality, and it’s growing… things are growing, new needs are appearing… there are new challenges, it’s very dynamic, and very versatile.”
Monica Mejli is the Industry Liaison Officer. In this role, she facilitates industry participation in the Master’s programme through promotional actions, marketing and communication campaigns. She has a heavy involvement in the Master’s thesis process and investment plans for the company. Monica and Montse attended the CommUnity Representatives Reunion in February in Bilbao, Spain, along with Mikel Lasa (CEO InnoEnergy Iberia), and all gave some very valuable inputs in their presentations to the collection of representatives located throughout Europe. Mikel himself is an active participant and proponent in CommUnity activities. According to Mikel, “being in the CommUnity allows me to share and learn fresh new ideas from many different stakeholders. Very important for me, all this happens in a trusted environment.”
In our conversation with Monica and Montse, we discussed their experiences as members, and the tangible values they believe can be realized through this growing network.
Question: What made you decide to become a more active CommUnity member?
Monica: “I think that the InnoEnergy CommUnity is a tool to connect each other (the business creation, the education and the innovation departments). The main goal is to bring people with interests and technology together. The most important thing is to collaborate and work together because I think we can create the largest CommUnity for innovation in Europe.”
Montse: “I remember attending the first speaker series at UPC (Barcelona), I remember thinking ‘wow, this is huge, people are committed here.’ Some people have perceived the CommUnity as just for students. For [Monica and I], we have always felt like we belong to the CommUnity and [have] not seen this as only a ‘student club’. As we are part of InnoEnergy, everyone is involved in whatever happens with InnoEnergy. The CommUnity has always been of interest to us. The more time goes on, the more things we see, the more we feel reinforced to take part of the CommUnity.”
“The outcome from the reunion in Bilbao was so amazing. We saw the structure, the way [the organisers] work, how you function, how you integrate your ideas, how you organise between yourselves, and the network that you have between yourselves.”
Q: What were some takeaways that you had from the CommUnity Representatives Reunion?
Montse: “Homework. We took a lot of homework with us from the meeting. We know the company from the inside. We can give a lot of support and feedback. [Students and alumni] have a point of view, and we [in the office] have another one, although it’s the same scene. It is our turn to materialise the outputs. I was amazed at how many representatives were there and I was not aware of how spread the CommUnity is and how structured and organised the CommUnity is. The amount of projects that are going on at the same time is amazing. So for us, there is homework because we have to enable things to happen and impart our knowledge to help the CommUnity and light the path.”
Monica: “The level of commitment is high, and you challenge each other. The teamwork and the coordination with each co-location centre is amazing.”
Q: With the presence of CommUnity representatives in new locations, do you think that this could lead to the possibility of growing the business potential in that location as well?
Monica: “Yes, I think so. Why? Because, basically, you guys can approach potential clients or sponsors, for the business lines which are: education, business creation, and innovation projects.”
Montse: “You are the perfect ambassadors for our Master’s programme and for InnoEnergy itself. Your voice is so important for spreading the awareness—this is the simplest example I can think of. If you prepare a speaker series that could be interesting for startups in a new location, another idea may appear and create another opportunity.”
Q: The CommUnity Platform just launched a few months ago. What do you think of it and have you been able to work your way around it and make use of its features?
Montse: “We are taking advantage of the platform. It is a working tool now and we are making the most of it. In the near future our partners will use it, our startups will use it.”
Monica: “[The Platform] is a way to connect each other for the business lines, for potential investors, for students or for graduates.”
Montse: “Yes, exactly. A company may see one of the challenges and want to do the same and create a challenge for themselves.”
“We are spreading the word. We are preparing a meeting with a training on use of the Platform for all the co-locations to utilise the space of each co-location within the platform. I think it’s the perfect tool. It’s an example of something that would not have existed without the CommUnity. The role of an ‘intranet’ has been overtaken by the platform and it’s even better.”
Q: What are your goals, whether they be for the CommUnity as a whole, or for you personally within the CommUnity?
Montse: “We want to make the CommUnity become known and the platform to become known by everyone. So our goal is to normalise our interaction with the CommUnity as it is normal to communicate with the other three business lines. It’s like a business line itself, or a link between the three business lines.”
Monica: “On one hand, I think we are collaborating with the CommUnity without expecting anything in return because we like it and we believe in it. On the other hand, I think that it is a tool that can be used in the long term. In my example, we can use CommUnity events for attracting potential sponsors and companies who may be looking for students for the Master’s thesis or job positions. Apart from that we can align the InnoEnergy CommUnity with challenges proposed by companies. In this sense, we can integrate these challenges in the CommUnity platform. This way we can create a network between companies and a group of people who can give an answer to a challenge proposed by ‘X’ company.”
Q: Did you enjoy the pinchos tour in Bilbao?
Montse: “Oh yes! When are we going back? If we can bring useful collaboration, please count on us to be present for the next reunion.”
Q: What is your favorite quotation?
Montse: “I’ve been reading the Godfather so I’m not sure if it suits here, but one quote is, ’Keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer.’ I would translate this to ‘stay close to the things that interest you, but stay closer to people with new ideas, the people who challenge themselves.’ Stay close to the ones that you can learn from. This applies to being able to learn things from those who are younger. We can learn from [students] every day. Just because someone is older it does not mean that their knowledge is greater, it is just a different kind of knowledge, and something that you can learn from.”
Monica: “If you have an idea, go for it.”
This conversation was an opportunity to get an inside perspective from professionals in the CommUnity. One thing to realise is, as Monica put it, “[we collaborate] without expecting anything in return because we like it and we believe in it.” As the CommUnity continues to grow and evolve, it is true that the value gained by each of the network’s participants is vastly different. For some, it is the opportunity to see what is happening in other locations, others are able to find collaborators and future teammates through the platform, and in the future, the CommUnity, the Platform, and all their functions will continually be refined, improved and given new qualities.
“Being in the CommUnity allows me to share and learn fresh new ideas from many different stakeholders. Very important for me, all this happens in a trusted environment.”
Mikel Lasa, IE Iberia CEO
Those of us affiliated with InnoEnergy, its partners and involved with its initiatives are already CommUnity members. We can already enjoy the benefits of the Platform and from attending CommUnity events. It is a manifestation of the fact that we all have similar beliefs and we all seek to advance technology in energy whether it be nuclear, solar, hydro or other forms of sustainable energy. The CommUnity is a place for this collaboration to occur.
Interview By Rudolph Santarromana
The CommUnity Post