The Clean Energy Evolution

Thursday, March 23, 2017

UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School’s energy concentration drew several first-year MBA students to pursue their MBA in Chapel Hill due to their interests in renewable energy and environmental policy.

Matthew Ruscio, a first-year MBA Kenan Scholar, spent four years after completing his BA in Government and Environmental Studies at St. Lawrence University working in the renewable energy industry and energy policy.

In Virginia, Ruscio worked with the state General Assembly on legislative items to remove barriers that prevented sustainable energy use such as a local tax on solar equipment. In doing so, he got the opportunity to collaborate with major corporations.

“I worked with utilities, I worked with corporations, such as Facebook and Google, who are under more pressure to get their energy from renewable sources,” Ruscio said. “So, they had a stake in making it easier to get renewable assets.”

Harry Masters, Ruscio’s fellow first-year MBA Kenan Scholar, also worked in energy policy post-grad by promoting clean energy in Bermuda, the island that sparked his interest in the field growing up.

“I think part of [my interest in the energy industry] is being from Bermuda, from a really small island that has tremendous natural beauty but no natural resources,” Masters said. “We’re very heavily reliant on external energy.”

Like Ruscio, Masters initially worked in policy. Masters promoted solar energy and energy efficiency in the Bermuda government, before transitioning into a private sector job working in sales and marketing for a solar developer.

Masters and Ruscio’s similar paths through the energy industry led them both to a crossroads in which they decided to develop more business skills before returning to the energy industry.

“I realized how much I didn’t understand about the industry, about energy, and more specifically, I realized there were a lot of technical gaps in my knowledge,” Masters said.

“You can really talk to legislators and talk to industry representatives a lot about the benefits of solar [power], but at the end of the day, the economics are what drives these deals and puts deals on the ground in terms of renewable energy,” said Ruscio. “I recognize the need to understand more of the complex finances that go into these unique deals – not every deal is the same – and therefore you have to be creative and innovative.”

Kenan-Flagler offers a program that suits their interests – a concentration in energy. The energy concentration allows MBA candidates to apply business skills to situations and challenges specific to the energy industry.

Looking forward, the first-year MBA Kenan Scholars, including Ruscio and Masters, will begin their graduate research this spring, a pinnacle piece of the signature Kenan Scholars program.

“UNC Kenan-Flagler had an energy concentration that’s not just focused on renewables or not just focused on oil and gas, like some other MBA programs, but really provides a comprehensive look at the energy industry as a whole,” Ruscio said.

Kenan-Flagler’s energy concentration is fairly unique among MBA programs, and its presence is vital in drawing MBA candidates who hope to play a role in the increasing implementation of renewable energy in business.