I am related to Joe Lango, a famous geologist who, after 40 years of futile drilling, lost his financial backing and had to relinquish his stake in what, a month later, became the largest find of natural gas in our country's history.
I was always inspired by Joe’s persistent character, his pivotal role in this discovery, and his talk of a cleaner future, the need to free our country from its dependency on oil.
Joe was left with bragging rights only; the story painfully demonstrates how much is on the line when it comes to energy financing. That’s why after graduation I intend to join a leading investment bank, such as Credit Suisse or Morgan Stanley, and concentrate on their energy practice. Those firms are hands-on participants in clean energy assimilation, and positioned to advocate regulatory changes. They are also among Columbia's top recruiters.
That will be my first step towards achieving my ultimate goal – to lead a vehicle dedicated solely to investments in renewable energy projects. The $1.1 Billion Hudson Clean Energy Partners, a Private Equity fund I know firsthand from working on its investments in my country, is my beacon in setting this goal.
At university, I volunteered for the Clinical Program for Environmental Justice. This program taught more than just social environmental theory. I actively participated in several petitions to the Supreme Court, as well as promoted the adoption of a "Polluters Pay" bill.
My conviction that sustainability and business development are intrinsically contradictory was inverted, however, when I joined Veolia Environment. As part of a technical-legal-financial team qualifying projects for registration under the Kyoto Protocol, I learned firsthand how sustainability can be incorporated into international businesses’ long-term strategic plans.
I also worked closely with CEO's in the group and realized that eventually I strongly wanted to aim for international management.
Today, I am lucky to be on the Infrastructure Project Finance team at Tadmor & Co., where I had the "eureka!" moment for my career trajectory, after representing institutional investors, investment banks, and target companies in some of the most innovative, ground breaking renewable energy deals in my country.
Team-working to structure a $100 million mezzanine financing for a solar energy company, I witnessed how new investing solutions are tailored. The Decision Brief method, invented at Columbia by Dean Hubbard, will be the ideal tool for me to hone such problem solving skills, and redirect them from my previous experience in the military and as a lawyer. The opportunity to study with professors such as Bruce Greenwald, a leading authority on Value Investing, will complement those skills with a deeper understanding of investing considerations, another gap of mine.
Electives such as Introduction to Venturing, and Strategy For High Tech Companies also came highly recommended by a Columbia alumnus I've spoken with, to help me think strategically about renewable energy project venturing.
Columbia's program is exactly the inspiration I need to establish a renewable energy investment venture. Perhaps I’ll try for a 2012 win, similar to Columbia’s winning student team at the 2008 GSVC, with their business plan for MicroEnergy Credits Corp, using connections between emissions cap-and-trade market and the Internet to make resources such as solar lighting available to those without access to electricity.
With almost 40% international students, representing over 50 countries, Columbia will help me develop leadership and management skills in a true international context, while I contribute to my classmates’ learning experience from my own. I intend to take full advantage of the opportunity through a club membership.
Through email correspondence with Ramsey Troughton ('11), I learned that the Energy Club provides summer internships and full time opportunities to work in energy finance at larger firms and smaller boutiques. The Private Equity & Venture Capital Club, and the Investment Banking Club (IBC), are just as relevant, providing assistance in meeting industry recruiters.
The field of renewable energy has limitless growth potential; take, for example President Obama’s plan, outlined last year, to spend $209 billion from the federal budget and economic stimulus funds to promote clean energy. I cannot wait to learn and be challenged daily by the best and brightest from around the world at Columbia, as I prepare, personally and professionally, to jump into this developing world.