Johnson hosted its fifth annual Johnson Energy Connection at Sage Hall, Sept. 26 and 27, an event that brings together alumni experts in the energy sector to share their industry knowledge and insights with MBA students and with one another, and also welcomes graduate and undergraduate students from colleges across Cornell University. Co-organized by the Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise and SGE Club, the event was sponsored by Chevron and Emerson.
Alumni industry professionals represented a broad spectrum of companies involved in the energy sector, ranging from behemoths like GE and ExxonMobil to smaller startups such as Alteros Energies and Sunible. The lectures varied from new developments in technology to financing options in the energy industry. A few highlights:
- Jaime Martinez Soto, MEng ’12, MBA ’13, business development manager at Emerson Process Management in Mexico, spoke about Emerson’s foray into new technologies that would increase efficiency and safety on oil rigs.
- Paul Mutolo ’94, partnership director at NYS Center of Future Energy Systems and co-founder of Standard Hydrogen Corporation, dissected the efficiency of fuel cells and electric batteries, explaining why he thinks hydrogen makes the most sense for future vehicles.
- John Renehan, MBA ’07, manager at GE Power & Water, touched on the biggest markets for energy — emerging economies — and how increased fuel efficiency in these markets can bring about massive savings.
- Bill Davis, MBA ’99, vice president of liquid natural gas (LNG) market development at ExxonMobil Gas & Power Marketing, presented links between LNG and the future of energy.
- Brad Gallant, MBA ’08, senior associate with DTE Energy Services talked about the new rage in renewable energy finance: Yield companies (more familiarly known as yield cos), defined by Forbes contributor and peak oil and climate change investment specialist as “a publicly traded company that is oriented towards income as opposed to growth.” Gallant discussed the benefits of yield cos but also expressed concern about overvaluations.
- Seth Helfgott ’05, associate with Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, spoke about the waning interest in the field of clean-tech energy among venture capitalists and about other, more bullish sources of finance.
This year, the afternoon plenary panel, “Transforming the Energy Industry through Innovation,” attracted a full house of students and alumni. Moderated by Mark Milstein, director of the Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise, panelists included Helfgott, Brian Bauer ’85, executive-in-residence at the Southern Tier Innovation Hot Spot, and Mike Train, MBA ’91, president of global sales at Emerson Process Management. Afterwards, students were able to interact with alumni during company “office hours,” during which time they were encouraged to pose industry- and career-related questions to alumni, share experiences, and talk business.
Thanks to all for an incredibly successful event!