I started with an undergraduate degree in chemical engineering. I worked for 5 years as a process engineer and project engineer in the oil and gas industry and got a professional engineer designation. At that point, I returned to school to complete a topic-focused masters in business leadership and clean energy engineering. During the masters, I pursued as much entrepreneurship experience as possible - taking courses, going to meetups, and participating in an early idea validation accelerator programme. I connected with friends in the startup industry and was introduced to the current founder as someone pursuing work similar to my interests. I did some work for them as the startup was first getting off the ground and was hired as head of marketing and business development.
Every day is different, working in commercialization and market development for new materials for hydrogen fuel cells and hydrogen generation. Overall I am responsible for engaging with the customers, identifying their specific needs to recommend solutions, and working with them throughout the qualification and testing process. Some days are more technically focused on product development and characterization teams to identify or update required product specifications and internal testing to be performed. I'm responsible for the planning of market outreach activities - conferences, press releases, advertising, as well as inside sales execution and international outside sales.
Working on new technology to advance energy storage, production of clean fuels, and zero-emission vehicles is extremely interesting. You get to learn new things every day as I am working with world experts regularly. I love working with people and specifically with our customers to learn about exciting new technologies. Planning and strategizing for entry into markets that don't yet exist is exceptionally challenging and can be stressful at times, but also feels like you are part of pushing the boundaries.
International travel, flexible schedule, office beers
International travel for work is not as glorious as it seems. Every day you are often waking up early to drive or bus or train or fly to the next location. You usually have to leave on and work through weekends and adjust quickly to new timezones with limited sleep.
Working for startups has its challenges. Most are doomed to fail, and you often have to be very reactive to refocus on funding efforts outside of your main priorities.
Degree in engineering or science
Outward personality and passion for technology
Getting into sales and technology startups is often more about your passion and making the right introductions than specific technical training. It is essential to have a solid foundational technical degree (i.e., engineering science); however, advanced degrees beyond that are more critical for specialist technical roles than business and operations.