The future of energy demand and the energy transition is a difficult nut to crack but there are many professionals dedicated to that very discipline. CommUnity by EIT InnoEnergy spoke with Chiara Gullì about her career.
What was the main learning you took from your studies?
It is certainly difficult to summarise that in just one sentence. During my studies, I truly learnt about the scale of the challenge ahead of us when it comes to climate change. The InnoEnergy Master really showed me how cutting-edge technical knowledge needs to be linked with a strong business mindset in order to deliver true impact and contribute to tackling this challenge in the most economical and sustainable way.
What was your first thought when you graduated? Did you feel prepared or daunted?
I would say a bit of both. As regards overall job opportunities and future development - I felt relatively prepared (and excited!!) to deal with any challenges that would be ahead of me. I felt like an ocean of opportunities was just up there and I just had to navigate it and made my mind about what I wanted to do. Which at the same time can be daunting - as I knew that most of my future would depend on that choice and picking one opportunity meant giving up on others! The second reason for the "daunted feeling" was definitely saying goodbye to the carefree university years and to being so close to some brilliant people and friends on a daily basis.
What was your first work experience after graduation?
My first work experience (after graduation and pretty much ever) was as an analyst in McKinsey's Energy Insights, where I have been working for the past 3 years.
Can you share a tip on how you got this position?
Prepare, prepare, prepare and rely on a bit of luck and trust in your talent! There is plenty of material online to focus your preparation and provide hints on what the interviewers test you for during the interviews. It's important to read through them well and think through how to show the best of yourself without over-stressing.
Can you explain more about your current role and the company?
I am an Associate in the Global Energy Perspective team of McKinsey's Energy Insights. We are the analytical-arm of McKinsey when it comes to the energy transition, providing perspectives on how the energy demand might evolve in the future and how it could impact businesses and industries. We bring these (and many more) perspectives to our clients and develop tailored insights for their business.
Which skills and experience do you need for your current role?
A very broad set of skills, ranging from excel modelling and analytical problem solving, to leading and working with a team, while being adaptable to different situations and able to manage some "crises". We switch teams in almost every client project, and they are often multicultural and cross-functional - the academic years at InnoEnergy really gave me the right tools and experiences to thrive in all the team set-ups, even the most challenging ones!
What is its link to the energy transition?
Pretty much every topic I work on is related to sustainability and/or the energy transition! From renewables integration into the power grid, to the hydrogen economy and challenges in decarbonising heavy industries, I am serving clients across the energy industry and governments/institutions, supporting them to define their strategy and next steps to navigate the energy transition.
What is the biggest lesson you learnt after graduation, in the "real" world?
I learnt that there is no university that will ever prepare you fully for your career - this is a never-ending process of growth and development, with pivotal moments. You should embrace this and enjoy the ride! I also realised how important the networking power of InnoEnergy is, it really creates a web of professionals that have shared fun and inspiring experiences together and when meeting them in the "outside" world you can relate to them immediately. Also the business opportunities and new insights you get out of these relationships are so much stronger - I have met my university colleagues in conferences and offices and had inspiring conversations also years after leaving university!
How has the pandemic affected you, did it accelerate your work or curtail it?
Covid made everything a bit more "still" and uncertain - since March 2019 I have been at my office only for 2 days! All the business travel has stopped and working in a team room seems like a far away dream. At the same time, working from home brings other opportunities for spending more time with friends and family (instead of time on a flight or in hotel rooms). I hope that the "new normal" will have a more balanced mix of these aspects.
What do you think will be your next step?
I am planning to continue my professional path at McKinsey, growing in the role of Project Manager and further developing my leadership skills.