UCLA: Anderson School of Management - Energy Management Group

Franck Gautier, President of the Energy Management Group tells us how the cost of abating emissions will balance the benefits

Franck Gautier is studying an MBA at UCLA Anderson, and previously worked in software sales for IBM, where he got involved in energy efficiency initiatives.  He hopes to expand his understanding of business and switch from software sales to a general management position in an energy company As president of the Energy Management Group, Franck tells us about the buzzing clean technology sector in Caifornia and how to balance the cost of abating emissions with the benefits.

What is the main aim of your club?

The Energy Management Group is a club at UCLA Anderson dedicated to placing students in exciting careers in the energy industry. We have three main focus areas: education, networking, and career. We organize a range of events during the school year: Energy 101, Speaker series, Career fairs, Alumni networking events, Career treks, and Dinner-for-eight.

During these events, our members have the opportunity to discuss the challenging issues arising in the energy world with the current leaders of top energy companies. For instance, the Energy Management Group had the opportunity to exchange ideas with Danny Kennedy, CEO and co-founder of Sungevity and former activist at Greenpeace, during our San Francisco Career Trek last year.

Who was your most exciting speaker you had this year?

My personal highlight from 2011 was clearly the opportunity of having been invited with seven fellow students to Tim Conver’s home during an event called Dinner for Eight. Tim is Chairman and CEO of AeroVironment, a technology company in Monrovia, California that is primarily involved in energy systems, electric vehicle systems, and unmanned aerial vehicles. Tim is also an MBA Graduate from the UCLA Anderson School of Management, and very involved with the development of the school. He shared with us his perspectives on the electric vehicle market, the challenges occurring when working in partnership with global corporations like American automakers, and the opportunities he foresees in the energy world. I felt a lot smarter at the end of this evening!

What do you hope to gain from your MBA?

I am a former IBM-er. I worked in software sales for five years and I came to UCLA Anderson to expand my understanding of the business outside of the sales function. I am looking to get a holistic view of how the different functions in a company are tightly interwoven. After graduation, I hope to move into a general management position in an energy related company. While in IBM, I also grew more and more interested in energy especially clean technologies. I got myself involved with the energy efficiency initiatives happening in IBM at the time. When I started school, I knew the Energy Management Group with its network of great leaders would be pivotal to help realize the switch from IT to energy sector.

What are the main benefits of doing an MBA at UCLA: Anderson?

The collaborative environment, the diversity of profiles, and the overall strength of the program made UCLA Anderson an obvious choice for me. Aside from this, I wanted to spend two years in a place where I could not only refine my leadership skills and grow my understanding of business questions, but also be in a place where energy policy is shaped and where energy start-ups innovate. Thus, I felt California was the place to be.

Besides, UCLA Anderson and the Energy Management Group have growing links with UCLA campus-wide with engineering schools and clubs that definitely enhance our school experience. Finally, L. A. is a very exciting place to be for MBA students with a lot of hype going on around energy and clean technology.

Will we run out of energy on this planet? Or will the price mechanism ensure that an efficient alternative is always available?

To answer this question, I would first ask what do we define as energy? Given that the sun can be assumed to be infinite in lifespan, there will always at least be solar energy available. Many other sources of renewable energy like wind, geothermal, and tidal are also being developed. Being renewable by nature, these energy sources will ensure that we don’t run out of energy.

If it is about natural resources such as oil and gas, we will continue to find new supply sources for these as both technology advances and the price for these commodities justifies the investments made to get the resources from difficult-to-reach places. Additionally, the price mechanism will drive prices up to a point where, as we see today, we start looking at alternate energy sources, which will eventually maintain the demand for natural resources.

Do you think the costs of abating emissions balance the benefits?

I talked about this question with a friend and we agreed that the cost of abating emissions seems more ethical than financial. We can measure only a portion of the cost of NOT abating emissions. What is the price tag on a species going extinct due to global warming, on rising sea levels, or on more extreme weathers creating stronger hurricanes? I feel that global warming and meeting growing energy needs are the most pressing energy-related challenges for our societies. My humble opinion is that we will have many debates about the best way to balance both.

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