Sustainability is an increasingly popular career path for IESE students. What are the types of opportunities available in this field and how can one best prepare for this career transition? In this post, David Bigorra Puente MBA 24 talks about his summer internship experience in Germany with Apricum, a global transaction and strategy advisory firm dedicated to renewable energy and cleantech.
Hi David! Please tell us a little bit about your background. How did sustainability and consulting pique your interest?
From a young age, I’ve been captivated by technology, which led me to study industrial engineering and subsequently immerse myself in the fast-paced world of IT and digital transformation during my tenure at IBM in Spain.
However, it was during a transformative year in Australia in 2017 that my passion for sustainability truly ignited. The country’s incredible biodiversity deeply moved me. This passion only deepened as I backpacked across South America, where the pressing need for change was evident. Upon my return to Barcelona, not only did I pivot my lifestyle – embracing more environmentally-conscious dietary habits and consumer choices – but also decided to seek an opportunity in consulting to amplify the impact of my work. This was one of my motivations to pursue my MBA at IESE.
Now that you’re in your second year, how was the first year of your MBA? Any surprises or highlights that you can share?
The first year was intense but extremely enlightening. It was a whirlwind of self-discovery, personal growth, and invaluable networking, culminating in an exhilarating internship in Berlin, Germany.
Over the course of the last 12 months, I learned how to best balance academics, social activities and rest (all while dealing with the feared FOMO). This wasn’t an easy task given the high academic standards at IESE. However, the faculty made the journey engaging by imparting the most eye-opening classes filled with cases and ‘eureka’ moments that changed my way of thinking in topics like leadership, ethics and (to my surprise) marketing.
In terms of highlights, where do I begin? Dancing at a team member’s wedding in India, pushing the boundaries of my public speaking skills, and winning an international impact investing competition are probably the most memorable. However, every day had its own story!
How did you land your internship? Can you please describe the internship search process? Please tell us what are some of the resources at IESE that helped you to secure the offer.
I wanted my internship to be a fruitful experience where I could test as many variables as possible while ensuring a focus in sustainability and strategy consulting. Thus, I went for a “triple jump”: a change in role, industry, and geography.
IESE played a vital role in my search process, especially through the internal job posts. This is where I found the opportunity posted by Apricum – The Cleantech Advisory, which seemed tailormade for my interests. To transform this opportunity into reality, in the words of a consultant, three factors were key:
- the consulting preparatory sessions
- the number of sustainability-related events and competitions at IESE
- the guidance and support provided by my second-year mentor
Together, these factors prepared me for interviews and helped me overcome my lack of experience in the clean-tech field. Additionally, the prep helped me showcase my interest in the industry, demonstrated my ability to learn fast and adapt in demanding settings all while helping my profile stand out.
This opportunity sounds very interesting. Can you please tell us what a typical day was like during your internship? Were you able to apply what you learnt in the MBA? What did you gain from this experience?
No two days were alike, yet all of them were challenging and stimulating. The Berlin office was a dynamic playground filled with an international group of youthful and exceptionally well prepared professionals. I had the chance to get first-hand exposure to what the job of a strategy consultant looks like, receive valuable and constant feedback from my mentor and team leaders, and work alongside some of the most influential voices in the clean-tech space.
Throughout the internship I took part in a couple of projects in the solar PV and green hydrogen industries. In these projects, I was entrusted with consultant responsibilities, and I had the opportunity to interview and present my findings to C-level executives.
The rigors of the internship often referred back to relevant topics from the first year of the MBA. As I grappled with real-world scenarios, the frameworks and theories from courses like Analysis of Business Problems, Competitive Strategy, and Communication became particularly helpful. These insights seamlessly integrated into my day-to-day contributions, bolstering the collective efforts of the team and aiding in the tasks at hand.
We are glad you had a great summer! Any advice for applicants who are targeting similar career paths for their internship or full time roles? Is there anything you wished you had done differently?
Start early. Define what you’re seeking, identify gaps in your profile, and address them as soon as possible.
This is especially vital for applicants aiming to transition from other industries or those without relevant consulting experience. One effective approach is to engage with clubs, participate in competitions, and immerse yourself in the industry you’re targeting.
Key habits that accelerated my learning included following industry leaders on LinkedIn, reading essential books on sustainability, and recognizing the power of podcasts.
In fact, to assist future students navigating the clean-tech sector, I am currently compiling a document with all the resources that benefited me. This initiative is part of my responsibilities as one of the Vice Presidents of IESE’s Responsible Business Club and in collaboration with the Energy Club.
It took me a while to incorporate some of these tools into my prep, and some I discovered only at the interview where I asked my interviewer for recommendations. Starting earlier is something I would definitely do differently.
Thank you David for sharing your experience and your valuable advice!
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