Networking Lunch - Diversity of Energy
When I came to Texas A&M in the fall of 2005, I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. I had just finished one year at another university and had transferred solely to be with my friends. For several years, I struggled to balance school and work and life, never really succeeding and definitely failing a time or two. I continually wondered if I would ever find that happy medium and truly find where I could contribute my talents.
In July 2011, I was hired by the Finance Department at Mays Business School, Texas A&M University and assigned to assist Dr. DeUef Hallermann with the Trading, Risk & Investments Program (TRIP). TRIP's mission is to provide students with real-world markets experience in conjunction with their finance-focused education, including internships and visits to physical assets. I also gained a professional network - a large board of primarily Aggies representing major oil and gas companies, trading firms, and investment banks. While TRIP is broad in focus, there is a great deal of exposure to the energy markets (this is Texas after all!), an industry of which I had no knowledge. Little did I know at the time how crucial this job would be to my future career!
I vividly remember when we took the students on a visit to a combined cycle power plant. On that very cold January day, another power plant in the area went down. There was a great deal of hustle at the plant we were visiting as they prepared to correct the market imbalance created by the other plant's failure. That experience made me realize how necessary it is to maintain balance.
While I loved the work I was doing with TRIP, I knew that a career in power is what I wanted. That day at the power plant provided me a strong metaphor for life. Imagine life as one giant power grid, with each facet a different power plant providing energy. Each plant has its ups and downs, its forced outages and its peak running capacity. When one goes down, the others have to ramp up to meet the energy demand. They all must work together in order for the grid to serve its customers. Without balance, everyone is left in the dark. I realized that balance, once my greatest weakness, was turning into one of my greatest strengths.
In December, I joined an energy trading firm in Houston, Texas as a day-ahead power scheduler for the Western interconnect. So what exactly does a "day-ahead power scheduler" do? My job is to work with other companies, utilities, and transmission providers to ensure that the power grid is balanced for the next day. My work has followed me home as I do my part to help conserve energy. I invested in a programmable thermostat to regulate my A/C, change the filter often, and use the ceiling fans while I'm home. I do my laundry in the evenings and start the dishwasher before I go to bed. The Texas sunshine serves as my clothes dryer whenever possible. Most importantly, I observe the conservation alerts issued by the state's system operator, ERCOT, to help avoid a power emergency.
It is an exciting time to be a part of an evolving industry. The increasing amount of renewable energy products, such as solar and wind power, coming online creates a new set of challenges and opportunities. In my personal view, a diverse mix of energy generation sources is vital for powering the energy-hungry world in which we live. Think of it like your retirement portfolio – you wouldn't choose to put your life savings in just one investment! That wouldn't be a wise decision for both you and our future generations. As more of these technologies come online, market operators are adjusting to make sure that these sustainable energy sources run efficiently while maintaining system reliability. The energy industry itself, once considered an old boys' club, is also becoming increasingly diverse. The opportunities within the industry are abundant for everyone willing to work hard, play hard, and try something new!
A day does not go by that I do not thank my lucky stars for the powerful network I have thanks to my Aggie family. I would have never dreamed that I would be doing what I do if it hadn't been for my time working with TRIP and the many different companies and Aggies who support the program. Aggies help Aggies – it’s what we do!
Inquiring minds want to know! Why did we used to have brown-outs? Why does the Reliant Energy Degrees of Difference program offer rebates to curtail energy use 2:00pm-5:00pm on some days? How can/Why does TXU offer Free Nights or Weekends – i.e., encouraging their customers to postpone non-essential electricity usage until night or weekend hours?
Much like an investment portfolio, a reliable and sustainable power grid requires a diverse supply of generation to meet our society’s demands. Alyssa Peppmuller '08 will give a short presentation on the different types of technology that produce power followed by a discussion on working in the power industry.
Afraid you won’t know anyone there? Bring a friend!
These Reveille Club events, sponsored by Houston Aggie Women, are OPEN TO ALL – men and women, Aggies and Non-Aggies – anyone needing a little boost.
Can’t find a friend to bring? Don’t worry! In a room full of friendly Aggies, you’re bound to find a conversation to join. And with our wide range of Class Years, you’ll probably find someone with a Class Ring just like yours.
$25.00 for the incomparable Maggiano’s family-style Italian lunch, complete with that to-die-for chocolate cake.
Second Tuesday of every month – networking starts at 11:30 a.m., lunch from 12:00 noon to 1:00 p.m.
2nd floor banquet room