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MBA Energy Management: 10 years of unique excellence for the energy sector

May 08, 2019

Prof. Jonas Puck talks about the highlights of the international success program

Ten years ago, the WU Executive Academy's MBA Energy Management, which is the only program of its kind in the world, was called into being by leading energy experts: This marked the beginning of an Austrian success story of global reach. Since then, the program has provided students from five continents with plenty of opportunity to interact with renowned researchers and distinguished guest speakers. On the occasion of this special anniversary, academic director Prof. Jonas Puck explains not only why the MBA Energy Management is still like no other program in the world but also why it offers students more than ever before when it comes to the overall MBA experience.

Image picture of the MBA Energy Management
The MBA Energy Management has been unique in the energy industry for 10 years.

Ten years ago, there were already clear signs of an emerging trend in the energy sector: Public debate was repeatedly revolving around the energy transition, and economic and political stakeholders were increasingly focusing their attention on renewable energies. Today, the global energy sector is still undergoing fundamental change. Stakeholders and management professionals are required to come up with innovative solutions and strategies for their business models. The increasing liberalization of energy markets, the effects of climate change and the phasing out of nuclear energy in some countries are creating complex management challenges.

Unique: learning with and from the crème de la crème of the energy sector

Very few training programs around the world are currently devoted to leadership and management in the energy sector. With its MBA Energy Management, the WU Executive Academy realized, as early as ten years ago, the need to provide energy-management professionals with knowledge that is sound, research-backed and practical. Since that time, the program has brought together stakeholders, decision makers and executives from the energy industries of five continents with a view to making them fit for the future of the energy business by equipping them with both the most innovative approaches to leadership and a thorough understanding of the oil, gas, nuclear and renewables sectors. This is done by enabling students to learn from the experience of the global players in the field of energy - in the course of interacting with renowned top managers and advisers from the industry. “No other MBA program in the world involves so many international experts as lecturers, advisers and guest speakers,” says Prof. Jonas Puck, Academic Director of the MBA Energy Management and Head of WU Vienna's Institute for International Business.

Picture of a power plant
Global players and experts from all energy sectors are involved in the MBA Energy Management.

A curriculum developed by global energy experts

The curriculum of the MBA Energy Management has been developed in collaboration with reputable organizations: UNIDO (United Nations Industrial Development Organization), the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP), the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences, representatives of OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries), information provider Energy Intelligence and the Siemens group have contributed their expertise. Some of the experts are still active on the program's advisory board. They include Marianne Osterkorn (formerly Director-General of the REEEP), Heinz Leuenberger (UNIDO), Ivan Sandrea (formerly CEO of Sierra Oil & Gas), Adnan Shihab-Eldin (formerly Secretary-General of OPEC) and Bernhard Bauer (Senior Director at Siemens).

A holistic transfer of practically relevant knowledge

Initially, the MBA Energy Management focused on traditional sources of energy, but 3 years into the academic directorship of Jonas Puck its focus has clearly shifted to renewables.

Portrait Jonas Puck

Prof. Jonas Puck

  • Academic Director MBA Energy Management

Our MBA program aims to help participants develop a holistic understanding of global and local energy markets. This is clearly reflected by the fact that we put special emphasis on the most pressing issues and current developments in the field of energy.

Even small changes in sectors of the markets can have a global impact. According to the expert, fluctuations in oil and gas prices have an effect on the demand for, and hence the prices of, renewable energies. “Subject-matter expertise in the area of renewables is becoming more and more important. But for the next 20 years, there will continue to be a need for fossil energy, so here, too, we have to make sure that we bring forth well-trained experts,” continues Prof. Puck.

The faculty of the program, whose language of instruction is English, comprises, inter alia, renowned experts such as Bassam Fatouh, Director of the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, reputable researchers of WU Vienna, Columbia University, INSEAD and Arizona State University as well as specialists of global consultancies such as Arthur D. Little, the Boston Consulting Group, McKinsey and EY. Cooperation partners in the history of the program include oil corporation OMV, which has made it possible for its high potentials to attend the MBA Energy Management.

The student body is a rich mix of experienced top managers, executives and energy-sector specialists. Over the years, classes have become increasingly international and diverse: “Nowadays, students from all parts of the world study in our program. They come from countries such as Russia, Brazil, Canada, Kuwait and Nigeria, Germany and Austria,” says Jonas Puck. The wealth of diverse professional experience that they bring to the MBA Energy Management is highly conducive to group learning: Engineers, geophysicists, finance and IT experts join forces with one another and develop practical solutions to job-related issues together.

Grouppicture of the MBA Energy MAnagement class 2018
The MBA classes have become increasingly international and diverse, as can also be seen in the current class.

Management and ethics

The specialization modules of the MBA Energy Management are arguably the only ones of their kind in the world. In Vienna, students develop a thorough understanding of the trends and developments on the global energy and renewables markets. They familiarize themselves in detail with the structures of the markets and with outlooks, analyses and value chains. In the course of the program's introductory modules, participants acquire the basics of management and leadership by attending classes such as “Managing Organizations” and “Managing People”, and courses like “Managerial Economics” or “Competitive Analysis and Strategy” help them sharpen their business-management skills. The “Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility” module enables students to take a closer look at ethical issues, sustainability and social responsibility. On top of that, there is plenty of opportunity for them to gain a wealth of practical expert knowledge regarding controlling, marketing and global markets.

Highlight: international residency

The concluding modules of the MBA Energy Management, which deal with the topics of US markets, trading and strategy, take place in the USA during the program's international residency. The classes delivered at the reputable Rice University in Houston, Texas, at the University of California in Berkeley and in Silicon Valley are taught in tandem by renowned researchers and management practitioners.

This gives students access to experts and decision makers in the USA and makes it possible for them to connect with the international energy community. The guest speakers are energy-sector luminaries: Among others, the former energy adviser of George Bush Sr.; James Hackett, formerly the CEO of oil exploration company Anadarko, and Jorge Montepeque, the inventor of the modern system of setting world oil prices, have been guest speakers in the history of the MBA Energy Management. The residency also features company visits in the course of which students can get behind the scenes of, for instance, oil and gas corporation Halliburton, renewables companies like Emeter and innovative software firms such as Bidgely in Silicon Valley.

Pic of Rice University
The last modules bring the students, among others, to Rice University in Houston, Texas.

Masterclass on the beach

What has been Jonas Puck's personal highlight so far? “There have been many great moments: a masterclass on the beach of Ipanema, complete with a view of the sea, for instance, or a luncheon with NASA astronauts; the opportunity to meet James Hackett in person or the welcome address delivered by former OMV CEO Gerhard Roiss,” he says. And: “Tim Duncan, the CEO of oil and gas corporation Talos Energy spontaneously filled in as guest speaker and spent 2 hours chatting with our students about the challenges CEOs have to cope with.” The MBA Energy Management has also been a catalyst for research projects such as the E-FIX - Energy Financing Mix project for funding sustainable energy projects, which is subsidized by the EU as part of its HORIZON 2020 program (energyfinancing.eu).

Networking with far-reaching effects

What program participants frequently regard as arguably the biggest asset of their training besides the comprehensive acquisition of knowledge is the fact that they have a much better understanding of the complexities of the energy transition, as academic director Jonas Puck explains: “At the end of the program, many students tell me that, thanks to the MBA Energy Management, they have a much deeper appreciation of the big picture as far as the energy sector and related areas are concerned. They are better able to reflect on current issues in a joined-up and solution-oriented manner.” What is more: Throughout the program, participants interact very closely with their peers from the energy sector and other fields, allowing them to expand their international networks. Time and again, this leads to valuable career contacts complete with a fruitful exchange of information, and many a graduate also benefits from new career opportunities.

Facts about the MBA Energy Management

This unique MBA program is designed for executives in middle and top management positions in energy companies or in the energy-management sector; experts of international organizations, such as OPEC, the IAEA or the OECD; analysts and researchers of financial institutions as well as technical experts who aspire to work in management positions.

As part of the WU Executive Academy's portfolio of MBA programs, the MBA Energy Management holds three accreditations of international renown: AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business), EQUIS (European Quality Improvement System) and AMBA (Association of MBAs).

The MBA Energy Management will next start in October 2019. Classes will take place on a part-time basis in Vienna at the WU Executive Academy as well as in the USA at Rice University, the University of California and in Silicon Valley.

For more information about the MBA Energy Management, please click here.

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