As Markus Wilhelm, Strata Solar CEO and keynote presenter for UNC Kenan-Flagler’s Careers in Sustainability Forum pointed out, the growth and development of renewable energy is a major disruptive business trend, especially as the global demand for energy rises. Not only did this session’s speakers bring this message home, but they also offered sage career advice for the students and professionals in the audience.
Lawrence Dernulc is the business manager with NextEra Energy Resources and a UNC Kenan-Flagler alum. Prior to becoming a Tar Heel, Dernulc worked in the financial services industry and has brought that experience to his current role, managing the profitability of NextEra’s 10MW+ portfolio of wind projects throughout the US and Canada. Dernulc was attracted to NextEra because he was impressed by the women who interviewed him and appreciated his company’s practice of developing talent from within the organization.
When asked about a disruptive trend in the industry, he immediately highlighted the proposed rules to limit carbon emissions from power plants—a topic that co-panelist, Chris Frantz, knows in and out. Frantz is a project lead with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and directs an interdisciplinary team that specializes in developing air regulations for the oil and natural gas industry. While he acknowledged that MBAs are rare to find within federal government agencies, he also highlighted that his role has allowed him to take on lots of responsibility quickly. His previous experience as an environmental consultant with The Cadmus Group gave Frantz exposure to developing recommendations geared towards sustaining natural resources, and he has leveraged his MBA/MEM from UNC Kenan-Flagler and Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment to make a huge impact within the EPA.
Alex Grawe also appreciates the variety of experiences he has had within DuPont’s Marketing Leadership Development Program. In his current role as a business development and marketing analyst, Grawe works with the Industrial Biosciences team, which identifies enzymes used for biofuel production. This company may not be the first that comes to mind when you think sustainability, but it should. DuPont has dedicated more than half of its R&D resources to identifying food security and non-petroleum fuel solutions so that the world can meet the challenge posed by a rapidly growing population. Grawe enjoys his work and recommended that students in the audience hone in on their primary goals and passions when pursuing their careers.
With the help of the moderator, Dr. Christopher Wedding, who shared wisdom from his work as an entrepreneur, professor and senior advisor with Cherokee Investment Partners, participants engaged in an informative and inspirational session to hear opportunities to drive how large organizations align their resources to promote sustainable energy generation.
By Meisha McDaniel (MBA ’16)