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Northwestern University: Kellogg School of Management - Energy Club

This active club hosts an event every week! Co-President Adam Atkinson-Lewis tells us about their speakers and endorses a cap and trade system to reduce carbon emissions

The Kellogg Energy Club is the focal point for professionals in the energy sector at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management. Students interested in the sector get plenty of opportunities to learn about, discuss, and work in energy-related fields.

The club organises at least one event each week, attracting speakers from energy companies, consulting firms, venture capital firms, and the Northwestern student and alumni body.

We talked to Adam Atkinson-Lewis, Co-President of the Energy Club and a second year on the combined MBA and Masters in Engineering Management programme at Kellogg. He told us about favourite speakers, upcoming events and reducing our carbon footprint.

What is the main aim of your club?
The Kellogg Energy Club is a professional organisation dedicated to broadening the community’s interest and career opportunities in the energy industry.

The Energy Club seeks to provide resources to support energy careers, build networks across Northwestern and the Chicago community, maintain and build relationships with energy-related companies, provide learning opportunities for students, and partner with other Kellogg clubs such as the Consulting, General Management, Sustainable Business clubs to provide high impact speakers and insight into various energy industry career options.

Who was the most exciting speaker you had this year?
That's a really hard question to answer. In the 2011-12 year we had over 30 events (that's an average of one per week of the academic year) with speakers from energy companies, consulting firms, VC firms, other graduate schools within Northwestern, and our very own student body.

My favourites were a renewable energy industry overview hosted by Acciona North America and a discussion hosted by Boston Consulting Group about nuclear in the post-Fukushima world.

We're looking forward to our upcoming year, with plans for more speakers than last year and our first official Kellogg Energy Conference, to be held on February 13, 2013. Details are here

Who is the most successful alum from your club?
While I can't say who the most successful alum from our club is, one of the most successful Kellogg alums in the energy field is the General Manager of GE's new energy storage business.

Why did you decide to do an MBA?
I view an MBA as a career accelerator. My professional background is a combination of project work at a civil engineering firm and energy policy for a non-profit. I see the energy sector as a three-legged stool, with the legs being technology, regulation/policy, and business. To excel in the energy world, you need to have a fluency in all three, and I found the perfect fit at Northwestern with the MMM program. It's an MBA from Kellogg and a Masters in Engineering Management from the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

In the MMM program, I'm able to take advantage of all that Kellogg has to offer--which is an almost overwhelming roster--as well as some of the innovation- and operations-focused curriculum at McCormick. I look forward to completing my degrees with a strong and competitive skill set that will maximize my future impact in the energy sector.

What proportion of your members are interested in the oil and gas business, nuclear business and renewables?
We don't collect information about this, but I ballpark it at the 60/40 mark, with about 60% of the club's membership more interested in clean technologies (including renewables, but also energy efficiency and smart grid), and 40% focused on careers or interests in the traditional energy sphere.

Do you think the costs of abating emissions balance the benefits?
Undoubtedly yes. Internalizing the externalities of carbon emissions is key to properly pricing the energy we use. Creating a market-based incentive (e.g. a well designed cap and trade program) for low-carbon economic activity is the best way forward.

In looking at the effects of carbon emissions from fossil fuels--climate change--there are two main areas in which we have to focus: mitigation and adaptation. In other words, we have to reduce our emissions into the future as well as adapt to the changes we've already caused in the planet's climate.

Moreover, pricing carbon shifts our energy dollars away from commodities coming out of the ground and towards the job- and industry-creating activities of innovators around the globe. There is a great article on this topic by Bill McKibben in Rolling Stone's August 2nd issue. Definitely worth a read. 


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