Our final feature on management capabilities in the energy sector focuses on Frank Madden, former Tuck MBA graduate and Chief of Staff at Ogin Energy, a U.S.-based manufacturer of wind turbines with a mission to make affordable, clean energy available to everyone.
Innovation is in Ogin’s DNA
Responsible for strategic planning, risk management and operational execution at Ogin, Frank Madden describes the company as a venture-backed wind manufacturer and developer with innovation at its heart. ‘By using proprietary aerodynamic technology to accelerate the flow of air, we can double the velocity of wind at the turbine rotor plane and in the process bring utility-scale economics to much smaller mid-scale turbines,’ states Madden.
Focusing on smaller wind turbines allow Ogin to go where traditional wind turbines can’t, including distributed, re-power and any other application where large turbine height, space requirements, noise, radar and environmental impacts may prevent development.
Ogin recently began commissioning turbines at its first commercial project in Palm Springs, California, with plans to begin installing behind-the-meter projects in Europe in the coming two years. When asked about the future of wind-generated energy, Frank Madden asserts that not only are there great opportunities for traditional wind solutions globally, but that Ogin sees an even bigger long-term opportunity in distributed applications closer to load. Ogin’s record seems to support this conviction: since 2010 the company has grown from 10 employees to over 80, including for Tuck alumni, with headquarters in Boston and additional offices in Western Massachusetts, California, Denmark and China.
Talent needed: Frank Madden’s tips into a career in the wind-energy sector
‘As an early stage company,’ professes Madden, ‘we certainly value individuals who have demonstrated the ability to be versatile leaders while working with diverse, global teams of people who aren’t MBAs. Energy/wind experience is great, but not always critical.’
Most of the people in Ogin are engineers: structural, software, electrical, controls, supply chain, and quality, to mention but a few. Turning towards MBA candidates, Frank Madden states that the typical MBA jobs at Ogin have been through the CFO’s office where he himself started, business development, and the supply chain organization. However, Frank Madden asserts that by working in a smaller-sized energy provider, newcomers can quickly leverage their success to take on broader responsibilities.
‘The more capable you are as a cross-functional leader,’ maintains Madden, ‘the better your chances of advancing your career. Be intellectually curious – know what you don’t know, and don’t be afraid to ask dumb questions!’ Frank Madden adds a reassuring note that asking questions will lead to most colleagues being only too happy to help, with the result that they will respect you more for it in the long run.
Choosing the right academic track
Frank Madden maintains that an MBA program might not be able to exactly replicate everyday industry experience that is so precious, but providing opportunities for students to work on real-world projects is a great start. For students interested in the energy industry, a first-year project or Tuck global consultancy project focused on some part of the energy industry is a tremendous opportunity to broaden students’ knowledge base, get a better feel for how people in energy think about the challenges facing their industries, and, going forward, give students something to talk about in networking and job interviews.
‘Increasing the degree of cooperation across graduate programs could increase that even further,’ insists Frank Madden, speaking from experience. ‘If you’re at Tuck that could mean auditing a class at the Thayer School of Engineering or finding a new product idea from one of the graduate schools to help develop.’
Read more about Ogin Energy
Visit the Careers page at Ogin
Read more about Frank Madden
Energy, Business, and Society: Visit the Council on Business & Society’s 2015 Boston Forum page
Discover Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, a founding member of the Council on Business & Society
Download the Ogin Energy Q&A booklet: wind turbines
Edited by Tom Gamble, Council on Business & Society, from Forum speaker’s notes and by kind permission of Frank Madden, Ogin Energy.
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