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Success Stories

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The UNC Kenan-Flagler Energy program is proud of the success its graduates have achieved.  These results speak to the preparation these students have received, their dedicated work efforts and to the range of interests they have in energy.  Click on their success stories to see the details of their post-graduation journeys.  Something similar may await you in the future.

 

Success stories

(Select a photo to read each individual’s story.)

Angelica Ly

Angelica Ly

Finance & Commercial Development Program Analyst, Chevron
Houston, Texas

Angelica Ly

Angelica Ly

After seven years in the energy industry, Angelica Ly (MBA ’20) set out on a business school program to propel her career and landed the ideal job with Chevron.

With a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from UC Berkeley, Ly realized being an engineer wasn’t quite the right path for her.

Instead, she pursued a career in technical project management, where she could combine her “passion for engineering with her love of people interaction,” she says.

After six years at SMA-America, a solar technology company, Ly was looking for a new challenge. “I realized that, though I enjoyed my job, I wanted to have more impact on business strategy.

“I knew I wanted to stay in the energy industry but wanted to refine my skills in finance, so I targeted schools that excelled at both energy and finance.”

In the end, the MBA energy concentration at UNC Kenan-Flagler was the ideal fit.

“The School’s curriculum allowed me to build my financial knowledge from the ground up,” Ly says. “Also, at UNC Kenan-Flagler, they are growing the energy concentration, so I had options to take an entire spectrum of classes.”

An in-depth look at energy

The energy concentration at UNC Kenan-Flagler focuses on all aspects of the industry, “from oil and gas to renewables and utilities,” Ly says.

Taught over two years, students have a wide range of courses to choose from, including Industrial Finance, Decision Making in the Energy Industry, and Energy Taxation and Policy. Courses focus on case-study learning, offering students the chance to dive deep into the workings of the industry.

“Most classes are taught by energy professionals,” she says. “We have CEOs or treasurers of major companies teach us fundamentals and then tie them back to what they’re doing.”

Ly’s most memorable course was taught by the senior vice president and CCO of a company in the natural gas space. “I loved the way he broke it down – how they make money, what’s important to them, and what problems they are facing today,” she says.

Angelica Ly and TeamStudents have additional opportunities to immerse themselves in energy at the Energy Center, which focuses on internship assistance, career events and research, and the student-founded Energy Club.

“The club provides students with knowledge and skills to understand the industry.  More importantly, it connects students with industry professionals, from business leaders to professors at other schools,” says Ly.

A career in energy

For a school so focused on energy, it makes sense that UNC Kenan-Flagler has strong links with the best in the industry — that was exactly how Ly scored an internship with giant ExxonMobil in Thailand.

“I would not have gotten the opportunity at ExxonMobil, without the help from UNC Kenan-Flagler faculty, administrators and alumni,” she says. But had another career-altering realization during this time.

“I absolutely loved the company and my project,” Ly says, “but after interning in the finance department, I realized that pure finance wasn’t quite the career that I wanted for the long term.”

Instead, she looked to other sources for her post-MBA job, and, with help from a school alumnus, secured a position at Chevron, in an exciting commercial and business rotation.

Coming from renewable energy and moving into oil and gas was “not what I expected coming into school,” Ly says. “That’s what business school did – opened doors I didn’t know existed. There are so many different facets in the energy industry.”

“I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to do after business school, but my goals continue to adapt and change. Thus, Chevron is perfect for me because I can continue to rotate throughout my career, while I keep growing and learning about myself. Also, it allows me to work on my engineering, finance and people skills.”

For Ly, there’s no industry more exciting than energy, and nowhere better to study it than at UNC Kenan-Flagler.

“The industry is redefining itself  — there are more questions and unknowns and thus more new ideas and innovation,” she says.

“The size of UNC Kenan-Flagler’s energy concentration is growing with the industry, which makes for a great opportunity to explore the rapidly changing energy sector.”

This article originally appeared in BusinessBecause.

 

Laurel Meeks

Director of Renewable Business Development, Duke Energy
Charlotte, North Carolina

Laurel Meeks

The UNC Kenan-Flagler MBA was a pivotal launching point for Laurel’s career in the renewable power industry.

Laurel completed a BA in Spanish at the University of North Carolina, culminating with UNC Kenan-Flagler’s Business Essentials program. Using her language and business skills, she spent four years in a business development role with an energy efficiency contractor in the Charlotte area. In this role, she implemented HR, finance and marketing strategies to pursue business growth in the green building space.

Recognizing her passion for the energy space, she knew a career in renewable generation was her next growth opportunity. The perfect place to further her career was back at her alma mater.

In the MBA program, Laurel lead marketing efforts for the MBA Energy Club, participated in energy career treks and interned with Duke Energy. She says the UNC Kenan-Flagler Energy Program “not only gave me the opportunity to build a lasting career with my top-choice employer but was critical to expanding my network with industry professionals.”

After graduation, Laurel returned to Duke Energy. She is now responsible for a team of professionals managing strategy and project development of regulated microgrid and battery energy storage systems. Her role allows her to generate and execute on opportunities to invest in clean energy technology. Laurel credits the Energy MBA at  UNC Kenan-Flagler as being instrumental in her career progression.

Christina Jeffress

Tina Jeffress

Sustainability and Energy, Panasonic
Durham, North Carolina

Tina Jeffress

Christina Jeffress

Sustainability and Energy, Panasonic
Durham, North Carolina

Tina Jeffress is a senior manager on Panasonic North America’s government affairs team in Washington. With a background in public policy and international development, Tina came to UNC Kenan-Flagler to tie her passion for sustainability and human development with tangible impact in the private sector.

She came to UNC without an industry concentration but dove headfirst into energy after conversations with Professor Stephen Arbogast. The comprehensive approach to the energy value chain taught at UNC Kenan-Flagler gave Tina the foundation to pursue a role in energy consulting at ScottMadden, working with utility clients on a wide range of issues. During her time with the firm, she established the first-ever internal ESG management program and led the publication of their inaugural sustainability report.

Tina joined Panasonic, one of the world’s largest lithium-ion battery manufacturers, where she splits her time between lobbying on energy and sustainability issues and supporting the company’s internal ESG goals.

She remains active at UNC Kenan-Flagler, serving on the Energy Advisory Board and Recent Alumni Council.

 

Trey Martin

Trey Martin

Vice President of Corporate Development, StarTex
San Antonio, Texas

Trey Martin

Trey Martin

Vice President of Corporate Development, StarTex Field Services, LLC (“StarTex”)
San Antonio, Texas

Trey Martin chose to pursue an MBA to accelerate his career as a leader in the energy industry. Prior to attending UNC Kenan-Flagler, he earned a degree in petroleum engineering, spent four years with an oil and gas upstream operator, and two years with an oil and gas private equity firm. Through the energy program at UNC Kenan-Flagler, Trey broadened his understanding of the energy value chain and refined the qualitative and quantitative skills needed to propel him to a career in an evolving energy landscape.

“UNC Kenan-Flagler fully integrates all parts of the Energy Value Chain into its program and coursework,” says Trey. “During my time in Chapel Hill, I participated in classes and conferences led by the C-Suite leaders with decades of experience in oil and gas, renewables, and utilities. Most MBA programs don’t offer access to such experienced executives from across every sector of the industry.”

In addition to serving as the president of the Energy Club, Trey led student recruiting trips to Houston and competed in the University of Texas McCombs MBA Case Competition. He was involved in the planning and execution of one of UNC Kenan-Flagler’s premiere energy events, “Meeting the Challenges of Renewables Intermittency Conference.”

After graduation, Trey returned to Texas. He has held positions as a vice president of financial planning and analysis and VP of corporate development at privately held, San Antonio-based pipeline companies. “My involvement with the Energy Center at UNC Kenan-Flagler expanded my understanding of the industry’s business models and challenged me to sharpen my leadership skills. I had the opportunity to collaborate and learn alongside classmates who are establishing themselves as leaders in their respective fields. Those experiences and relationships have already brought tremendous value to my career.”

Byron Kelly

Finance Manager, Tax Projects, NextEra Energy Inc.
West Palm Beach, Florida

Byron Kelly

Finance Manager, Tax Projects, NextEra Energy Inc.
West Palm Beach, Florida

After seven years of studying petroleum geology and geophysics in Canada, Byron never expected to find himself discussing the outlook for renewable energy with a senior VP of a large U.S. public utility company in North Carolina.  

Byron is a graduate of Memorial University of Newfoundland and the University of Calgary, two Canadian schools with strong geoscience and engineering curriculums tailored towards careers in the oil and gas industry. After completing his master of science degree, Byron began his energy career by joining a Canadian oil and gas firm.  

“I really enjoyed working in the oil and gas industry, however the low oil price environment in 2015 impacted the Canadian market in a major way” says Byron. “At the time, I did not understand how market dynamics and global events could trickle down to impact the economics of my projects and my company. As I saw major projects being canceled and Canadian companies being sold to foreign buyers, I began to develop an interest in the broader market fundamentals and decision-making that led to these events.”  

UNC Kenan-Flagler’s MBA energy concentration presented an excellent opportunity for Byron to complement his technical background with finance and management skills from a top-tier institution. In the program, he took advantage of numerous opportunities to gain exposure to the broader energy industry. Byron obtained both the energy and corporate finance concentrations, taking classes taught by bankers and executives of major companies. He joined the student-run Energy Club and lead a team of MBAs in publishing a white paper on the all-in economic costs of renewable energy as baseload power, published in conjunction with the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise.    

After graduation, Byron joined ExxonMobil in a corporate strategy role. “My skillset was considerably expanded after business school” Byron says. “At ExxonMobil, I found myself solving challenges that reached across industry verticals. I drew upon the financial and managerial skillset developed at UNC Kenan-Flagler to help set the strategic direction of the company, evaluate major capital investments, and manage the impact of COVID on our business.”  

After three years at ExxonMobil, Byron left to join NextEra Energy to obtain diversified exposure to the energy industry beyond oil and gas. “Part of my decision to obtain my MBA was an interest in transitioning into the renewables space. My time at UNC Kenan-Flagler gave me the credibility, knowledge base and experience necessary to transition from an oil and gas company to a renewables company that is at the forefront of the energy transition.”  

 

anthony miner

Anthony Miner

Enterprise Strategy Associate, Caterpillar
Chicago, Illinois

Anthony Miner

anthony miner

Enterprise Strategy Associate, Caterpillar
Chicago, Illinois

“After beginning my career at PwC in technology industry management consulting, I came to UNC Kenan-Flagler with a passion for energy and sustainability but zero experience in the field,” says Anthony Miner. “UNC Kenan-Flagler provided me with access to thought leadership, networking opportunities and coursework needed to understand the business of energy. I was able to put knowledge to practice through internships with ScottMadden (energy consulting) and Dynamhex (cleantech startup). I wouldn’t have been able to get my current job at Caterpillar without the two years of in-depth energy knowledge and experiences to display on my resume and showcase during the interview.”

Anthony believes that the energy transition is the largest investment opportunity of our generation and stated, “MBAs from UNC Kenan-Flagler gain the core business skills required to think critically about investment and business positioning opportunities facing organizations today, such as finance, strategy and marketing, with the tactical energy and sustainability knowledge from the Energy Concentration to help energy companies navigate the vast uncertainty and opportunity.”

Anthony is part of the enterprise strategy function at Caterpillar, which is focused on sustainability strategy and aftermarket services growth, helping the organization understand the energy transition landscape, ESG considerations and areas to focus on. Caterpillar is the world’s leading manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas engines, industrial turbines and diesel-electric locomotives, with almost 100 years of experience serving customers across the globe. A leader in energy and infrastructure, Caterpillar is focused on navigating the energy transition and supporting its customer’s sustainability goals.

Ed Hirsch

Edward Hirsch

Senior Analyst, New Business, Baltimore Gas & Electric
Baltimore, Maryland

Edward Hirsch

Ed Hirsch

Senior Analyst, New Business, Baltimore Gas & Electric
Baltimore, Maryland

Edward Hirsch has always been interested in how things work.

He began his career as an engineer at the Salt River Project (SRP) in Phoenix, Arizona. He spent six years in a rotational program at SRP, working and learning about different parts of the electric utility industry. While the job offered a lot of exciting opportunities, he realized he was ready to take his career in a new direction.

After a lot of research, he chose to take the next step and earn an MBA from UNC-Kenan Flagler, based on the energy concentration and the impressive roster of industry leaders on the faculty.

“I really wanted to get more business and management experience, but I also wanted to make sure it was relevant to my career in the energy industry,” says Edward. “Finding out UNC Kenan-Flagler had an energy concentration available really felt like the perfect fit.”

In the program, Edward took advantage of coursework focused on the energy industry, served as VP of alumni relations in the student-run Energy Club. He took an internship with Summit Midstream in Denver, Colorado, an opportunity in the oil and gas industry that led to a full-time position after graduation.

When he decided to return to electric utilities, he took a position on the new business team at Baltimore Gas & Electric (BGE), part of the Exelon Corporation in Baltimore. In addition to this role, he also serves as a lead on the BGE innovation team and helps facilitate the adoption and implementation of innovative ideas generated by employees within the company, from meeting lower carbon emission targets to customer service to safety to reliability. His experience and exposure to the full energy value chain during his time at UNC Kenan-Flagler helped him evaluate new projects and potential impacts.

“My role on the innovation team allows me to interact with all kinds of people and see how we’re keeping pace with the changing demands of the environment, people, and business,” says Edward. “It’s such a huge opportunity and a really exciting time to be working in the energy space.”

 

bradley harris

Bradley Harris

Manager, Rates and Regulatory Solutions, Duke Energy
Raleigh, North Carolina

Bradley Harris

bradley harris

Manager, Rates and Regulatory Solutions, Duke Energy
Raleigh, North Carolina

Bradley Harris joined Duke Energy in 2019 after completing his MBA at UNC Kenan-Flagler, as well as getting his master’s in public policy from Duke University. His master’s thesis was structured as a consulting project for Duke Energy and addressed longstanding rate design and net metering issues in North Carolina.

Bradley got the idea for his thesis topic while in a class at UNC Kenan-Flagler taught by Rob Caldwell, former president of Duke Energy Renewables. Rob Caldwell and the support of the UNC Kenan-Flagler Energy Center proved critical in enabling Bradley to produce original research in his thesis. This work led to Bradley landing his position at Duke Energy, where he has implemented some of the ideas that were generated while in the classroom at UNC Kenan-Flagler.

For example, in his thesis, Bradley recommended that Duke Energy offer discounted pricing during mid-day hours for non-summer months as part of reforming the company’s time-of-use (TOU) pricing structures. During these times, the utility has excess solar energy, driving down both the cost to serve and the carbon intensity of the grid. Offering discounted rates creates incentives for customers to shift load to these lower-cost, cleaner time periods. Electric vehicles, in particular, are expected to benefit from this pricing structure as customers can create charging schedules around the pricing structure. The North Carolina Utilities Commission approved two new pricing structuring that incorporates these new TOU periods on Aug. 25, 2021.

Bradley’s thesis also discussed net metering-policies that determine how rooftop solar is priced and customers are compensated for energy they export to the grid. Bradley was the lead analyst supporting Duke Energy’s net metering negotiations and subsequent settlement with the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association, Southern Environmental Law Center, Vote Solar, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Sunrun Inc. and the Solar Energy Industries Association. The settlement has been hailed as an example that other utilities might imitate elsewhere with Utility Dive referring to it as the “South Carolina Model.” In 2020, Bradley appeared as a witness in front of the South Carolina Public Service Commission in support of the settlement. As of Jan. 1, 2022, the settlement has been filed with the South Carolina Public Service Commission and the North Carolina Utilities Commission.

Bradley is a guest lecturer at UNC Kenan-Flagler, where he teaches  about cost of service, rate design and the regulatory structure of utilities as a part of the Business of Power course. He has also been a guest lecturer at Duke University, but don’t worry – he’s a proud Tar Heel!