As part of our Green MBA Success Series, I am interviewing Green MBA graduates to uncover what steps they took to transition to green careers using their degrees. Meet Conor Carlin, Manager, Enterprise Energy Intelligence EnerNOC, Inc. Conor is also the managing editor of Thermoforming Quarterly, a newsletter of the Thermoforming Division of the Society of Plastics Engineering. Prior to transitioning to a career in energy management, Conor worked for 9 years in business development, sales and marketing in the plastics and packaging industries. Read our interview with Conor, in which he shares his story of how he transitioned from a career in packaging and plastics sales management to one in energy management. Don’t forget to check out our entire Green MBA Success Series and our Green MBA Directory.
Name: Conor Carlin
Company: EnerNOC, Inc. (NASDAQ: ENOC)
Title: Manager, Enterprise Energy Intelligence
Q. What are the responsibilities of your job?:
A. I am working as part of a small team within EnerNOC to develop and roll-out a new energy management technology application. We are focused on capturing real-time metering and monitoring data and presenting it in an intuitive way that allows businesses to understand how and where they use energy. I will be looking at business development, marketing and sales across several strategic sectors including state governments and large, multi-site commercial and industrial companies.
Q. What do you enjoy most about your job?
A. What I enjoy most is rolling up my sleeves every day and getting involved at an early stage where my efforts contribute to the success of a new and exciting cleantech program. It is very gratifying to be working for a company whose mission is in line with my personal and business philosophy.
Green MBA Program Attended/Year Completed: Babson College, MBA 2010; Concentration in Entrepreneurship and Sustainability.
Note from the editor: In 2008, Babson was recognized by the Aspen Institute’s Center for Business Education in their Beyond Grey Pinstripes survey as #31 on their Global 100 List of Business Schools
Q. What, if any additional certifications, training, degrees do you have that have helped you in your obtaining a position in the sustainability/green section?
A. I have been a member of the Society of Plastics Engineers for 10 years. This professional society afforded me numerous opportunities to network with CEOs and business leaders, to travel extensively both in the US and Europe and, perhaps most importantly, to learn technical subjects which are relevant to my current position.
Q. Why did you decide to make a career change into cleantech? In a word, “bioplastics”. While working in the plastics industry, I had read about developments in new, corn-based plastics designed to replace petroleum-based plastics. At that time (2000-1), CargillDow was developing polylactic acid for packaging applications and there were some interesting success stories in Europe. In short, this nature-based approach to technology spurred me discover the world of biomimicry and clean technologies. I wanted to be a part of what I believed to be a fundamental shift in the way we think about business; to be part of an exciting, innovative space filled with passionate, smart and optimistic people.
Q. What steps did you take that were the most effective in helping you make the transition to a career in cleantech?
A. The most obvious step in making the transition to a career in cleantech was leaving the industry where I had spent almost 10 years to enter business school. I went into the program knowing that I wanted to focus on the business side of cleantech and renewable energy, though I did not have a clear view of which sector interested me most. Many of my colleagues at Babson were career-changers, and we formed a tight-knit group around issues of clean technologies and sustainable business strategies. Thanks to Babson’s Management Consulting Field Experience (MFCE) program), I was able to work on several consulting projects for dynamic companies in biofuels, energy efficiency and water technologies. The domain knowledge gained through these projects and internships was simply invaluable.
Note from the editor: Conor made good use of Babson’s Management Consulting Field Experience program, as well as other opportunities made available through the school While at Babson, He was also a graduate research associate in Clean Technology Management and Entrepreneurship Program where he developed content for a new student-led sustainability website and served as a team member of a small group of students who were responsible for research and writing related to sustainability. He also served as Co-President of the Babson Energy & Environmental Club. Kevin worked as a a summer association with Novomer (green plastics manufacturer), a strategy consultant at Qteros Inc (a producer of cellulosic ethanol) and an MBA Technical Intern at Energy Climate Solutions (now called GreenerU, Inc) (a consulting firm that works with universities and colleges to help them reduce infrastructure and utility costs). His startup venture, Piggy Pellets, won the college Green Collar Venture business plan competition in 2009. Along with two partners, he competed in the Eastern Regional Finals at Columbia University.
I am fortunate that I live in an area (Boston/Cambridge) that is one of the top global cleantech clusters. There is a wealth of knowledge in the area, from MIT-sponsored programs to “green” start-up competitions to professional networking events. It was really the complete immersion into this world that helped build my knowledge and establish credibility with peers and industry professionals.
Q. What are your long term career goals?
A. I want to drive commercialization and market acceptance of new clean technologies. I continue to advocate for new business strategies that move us away from short-term thinking toward a future where we accurately value and price our natural capital. My long-term goal is to achieve a position of influence where sustainable business meets progressive policy.
Q. Please share any additional thoughts that you feel might be helpful to someone seeking to make this type of career transition.
A. I would offer that MBAs have a terrific opportunity to learn about green businesses, especially as more and more institutions are shifting focus to sustainability and related course work. Take advantage of your student status to attend events (quite often for free!), network with others, read the literature (especially “The Ecology of Commerce” by Paul Hawken) and build your knowledge base.
For entrepreneurs, there are many opportunities to provide innovative products and services to a growing number of institutions and companies. Enter competitions, give voice to your ideas and think aloud with peers. You have the chance to be part of a powerful and growing movement that aims to truly change the world.
Join us each month as we introduce to sustainability professionals who used a green MBA to make a green career transition. If you have a green MBA, have successfully transitioned into a career in sustainability, and would like us to spotlight you in the Green MBA Success Series, or if you know someone you think we should spotlight, drop me a line. Don’t forget to check out our entire Green MBA Success Series and our Green MBA Directory.
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