Business education is a cyclical industry. In times of economic strife, demand rises as people aim to sit out the storm and graduate into a recovery. This is true of energy management MScs, which have enjoyed a windfall of applications as sustained oil price falls have taken their toll on the oil and gas sector. With crude oil plunging as low as $45 in recent years, as many as 120,000 jobs were expected to be lost by the start of 2017 in the UK alone.
Carlo Capè, co-founder and CEO of Business Integration Partners, a leading consultancy in Milan, says that people have looked to shelter in education, but also to retrain in a sector that is rapidly changing and with ample job opportunity in areas like renewables, business development and asset management.
The consultancy sector is one area of job growth as energy companies look for more expertise to navigate digital technologies, regulation and renewables.
Business Integration Partners is a partner of the Master in Energy Management at the Politecnico di Milano School of Management — providing guest lectures and work experience for students.
“Our program aims to train young graduates in economics, engineering or other scientific disciplines,” says Capè. They study for 12 months in Milan full-time. In Italian, the course teaches students about technology, regulation, business models and the economic sustainability of investments through lectures, case studies, company presentations and a mandatory internship.
Graduates are hired in industrial and consultancy firms operating in the power, oil and gas, distribution, sales, trading and renewable energy sectors.
“The demand is growing as a consequence of the dramatic changes in place in the sector,” says Vittorio Chiesa, director of the Master in Energy Management. Incumbent companies are recruiting more people, as well as startups which are looking to break into an industry in flux.
Energy management: a shifting field
According to Praveen Kumar, the faculty director of Bauer College of Business’s Gutierrez Energy Management Institute, the principal trends are the growth of unconventional shale oil and gas production in the US, the growing role of wind and solar power, and the increasing use of low-carbon fossil fuel being produced by oil and gas companies.
This has been reflected in teaching on the Bauer College’s MS Global Energy Management course. “We have introduced new courses on the energy transition and future of electricity, and are working with energy companies to study digital innovation with the active participation of students,” says Kumar.
[See all MSc programs in Energy Management]
Most courses are taught by senior executives from the industry. The Houston location is a tremendous advantage in this respect, since it’s one of the world’s energy capitals and is home to the “Energy Corridor” — a business district home to many of the biggest global energy companies, such as BP, ExxonMobil, Shell and Chevron.
Kumar says job opportunities have risen at such companies as oil prices have firmed up slightly this year and the US labor market continues to boom. As such, more students are flocking to the Bauer College program.
“Demand for energy management education is rising as the challenges of transitioning to a low-carbon future and the financial management challenges of unconventional oil and gas production become apparent,” says Kumar.
Georgia Makridou, an affiliate professor at ESCP Europe Business School, agrees that demand is rising as energy enters a new era. “The price volatility and geopolitical instability are increasingly common, as are globalisation and market deregulation,” she says. “The rise of new technology adoption is changing the way businesses are operating, all while the environmental concerns are steadily growing.”
In particular, demand is rising for expertise in project management, supply chain, finance and human resource management as large amounts of capital are needed to develop technological innovation and boost energy supply in an uncertain world, she says. “While, arguably, the main energy industry challenge is linked to technologies, it is also largely managerial.”
This is all reflected in ESCP Europe’s MSc in Energy Management program, a significant portion of which is dedicated to renewable energy and digital innovation. Taught in London and Paris, the program prepares students for a wide range of careers.
The majority of graduates end up working for energy companies (35%), closely followed by banking and finance firms (24%) and consulting companies (18%). They work as managers, consultants, investors and traders in such companies as E.ON, Total, EDF, Schlumberger, BNP Paribas, Wood Mackenzie, Schneider Electric, KPMG and Deloitte.
Some 87 percent of students are employed within three months of graduation, while the average reported starting salary after graduation was around €40,000.
Makridou is not surprised by these statistics. She says: “With a still-growing human population, rapidly increasing consumption, and ever-increasing stresses on the environmental services on which we rely, one of the greatest challenges confronting humanity in the 21st century lies in the sustainable generation and use of energy.”
An opportunity to shape the future: that should appeal to myriad prospective students.