Alumni talks: Tommaso Mura
In the latest catchup with EIT InnoEnergy alumni, we spoke with Tommaso Mura, whose professional path has taken him into the world of solar photovoltaics. He gives us an insight into the challenges he has faced and what the future holds.
What was the main learning you took from your studies?
I arrived at EIT InnoEnergy from a bit old school, a theory-centred university which on one side gave me a solid engineering background but on the other left me pretty unprepared for real-world projects. The main lesson I learnt during the EIT InnoEnergy Master programme is that the engineering part is just a little piece of the puzzle and that you have to match many others to have a successful project.
What was your first thought when you graduated? Did you feel prepared or daunted by going into the "real world"?
I felt quite prepared and confident, maybe even more than I should have, then I learnt it takes time and patience to get things done.
What was your first work experience after graduation?
I threw my heart and effort into Solcor Portugal, a PV development and financing company I co-founded with my EIT InnoEnergy colleague Vincent. You can read more about Vincent's side of the story in this EIT InnoEnergy article.
Can you share a tip on how you got this position?
Well, I didn’t really go through lots of interviews. It was just a matter of being crazy enough to believe that we would have made it with Solcor Portugal being two 25-year-old foreign guys with no experience, not a single good connection in the country and very poor Portuguese at that time.
Why did you choose Portugal to relocate to?
It was mostly because I really liked the place and I was a bit sick of moving from one place to another every six months or every year as I had been doing for the last few years. Then the opportunity to start Solcor appeared and it was the confirmation that it was a good choice.
What is Solcor and what is your role in it? Is there a link with the energy transition?
Solcor is a PV development and financing company. We build photovoltaic installations for energy-intensive companies with ESCO model. Our clients do not have to bear any upfront cost but instead decide to buy the electricity produced by the solar panels at a cheaper price than they would from their electricity retailers. From 2018 to now, I covered a large number of roles in Solcor, but at the moment I’m mainly focused on the actual development of photovoltaic projects. I would say it is definitely related to the energy transition, in that it is giving a big boost to renewable transition in the C&I sector. We are also committing to broadening our target market to energy communities unlocking this beneficial business model also for aggregates of private people.
Which skills and experience do you need for your current role?
The skills you need include a lot of patience, a problem-solving mindset and good organisational skills. This package must come with a decent engineering background to know what you are talking about. It involves a lot of struggling and my day to days are unforeseeable but I’m having fun and learning a lot, it’s good to look at yourself 6 months in the past and think “what an idiot!” So far I had the same feeling every 6 months.
What is the biggest lesson you learnt in the period after graduation?
Be prepared for everything! There’s no limit to what you can see in the working world. Joking aside, maybe the biggest lesson is that a good life-work balance pays back more than overworking yourself.
Has the pandemic affected you? Did it make your work easier or make it more difficult?
Of course! Like almost all businesses we were negatively affected. In the first wave, we were on hold and a lot of possible clients put this type of non-essential projects on hold. Now it is going far better but there’s still a lack of optimism in the market.
What do you think will be your next step?
My next step is to keep doing better and better! Solcor Portugal is getting bigger, now we are six people, and we just got our first serious office. New projects are not missing, and we are doing our best to deliver a good experience to a much broader amount of clients and this means a lot of work to structure and solidify the company.