June 17, 2013

Career Spotlight: Samir-Al-Wakeel

Today in conversation with: Samir Al-Wakeel, MBA MSc (owner energyvision), Alumnus Class 2010-2012s

You already have had a Bachelor „Electrical Engineeering“ at the University of Applied Sciences in Zurich and an Executive MBA „Business Administration“  at the International Institute of Management in Technology at the University of Fribourg. So, one program with technical, the other one with business focus. Why did you decide on another program with a technical focus? What did you expect from the MSc program „Renewable Energy in Central & Eastern Europe“?

I've always been interested in technology and in particular "new and innovative technologies". My first experience with PV, I made in 1990 during my apprenticeship as physics laboratory technician at the ETH in Zurich. Regarding the MSc course with main focus on subjects related to environment, energy efficiency and renewable energies, I find it an ideal supplement to a purely technical bachelor's degree. In general I’ve perceived the curriculum as very well balanced. In addition to technology developments, great emphasis was placed on economic, environmental and legal aspects. Furthermore, many relevant topics, such as energy storage, smart grids, LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) and CO2 certificates were discussed as well as trainings in general management with focus on leadership and team building behaviour, public participation, conflict management and social skills to name a few, have provided a comprehensive and a well-rounded program. In that respect the offered course of studies is unique in Europe regarding the selection of topics, the practical relevance, international orientation and particularly the modular design. It’s a great advantage that you can easily study and work at the same time, even abroad, in my case, in Zurich.  Hence, my expectations were therefore fully met. As for the MBA, I believe that business management and economic skills are just a necessity today if you want to meet professional demands of increasing responsibility.

You´ve intermitted for several years between each of your three study programs for working. Do you consider it important to gain working experience?

Well, actually, I was always working. I have completed all three studies while working. However, in principal I think it is very important gaining working experience, building up a professional network and to get a feeling of the challenges and needs of the private sector and the market. Last but not least it’s also very important to apply what you have learned in the professional world. On the other hand, while working for a certain period you have time to make up your mind and concretize own interests and preferences in peace, so that you pick out the right education or select an appropriate future training. As you know, flexibility, mobility and continuous education are nowadays more in demand than ever.

By now you look back on 25 years of working experience. You carried out various projects worldwide – in Europe, Asia and the USA. Have the contents of the MSc program „Renewable Energy in CEE“ been internationally usable?

Well yes, but let me answer this way…
I have completed my study of renewable energy only one year ago. So, not much time to apply. Previously, the last 15 years I was working mainly in the ICT industry. But I will certainly profit from these experiences. However, in this context, I find the overlaps and the interface between the ICT-world and the power supply of a post-fossil energy society very interesting, namely the upcoming topics such as Smart Grid, Smart City and Smart Home. Furthermore during the master study one could get a good insight into the energy markets of different CEE countries and establish valuable contacts. In this respect, great opportunities, synergies and chances are available for the future.

Did the program enhance your international career or did it open the door to an international career?

Oh yes. With one of my fellow students I even work together. After the completion of the program we have set up our own business. "Energy Vision" our company is internationally active with offices in Germany, Switzerland, Slovakia and Czech Republic. On top of that and based on the alumni network we have also established some business relations and co-operations with other companies in the industry, such as CES (Combi Energy Systems), or EWS Consulting in Austria. These are all former fellow students. Of course, we also continue to maintain the contact with the TU Wien and the Energiepark Bruck/Leitha. However, I also would like to point out, that on the personal level many wonderful friendships has been formed. Some of my colleagues I meet regularly.

What career plans do you have for the next 3-5 years?

I will certainly continue to be involved in and work on topics related to renewable energy and sustainable environment.  Thereby my major focus will of course lie on the development of our business. "Energy Vision" will then be a successfully and internationally operating company. However, I do not want to exclude the possibility of attending a further training or a study, according to my lifelong learning motto. Maybe I'll even be delivering casually some lectures at the university or a technical college.

How do you start your working day?

My day begins with an aromatic fragrant Nespresso coffee. At the same time I check the online headlines of the daily press on my iPad. After that, the laptop is used. For about 30 minutes, I dedicate myself to e-mail reading and I check my agenda for the day ... When done I’m ready to take off …

(Interview dtd June 17, 2013)

please click the link to see the visual video >>

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