Like many graduate students, Winston Chen came to Penn to pivot his career. He had encountered the energy sector during his work in generalist private equity and strategy consulting. However, he knew he wanted to focus his long-term career on clean energy.
“If you are someone who believes that climate change is an important issue—and I think it’s the most important issue—then you should move your career in a direction that helps address it. For me, that involves working in the clean energy sector.”
As Chen was applying to Wharton’s MBA program, he also found the Kleinman Center website and learned about our Certificate in Energy Policy and Management. This was something he knew he wanted to pursue.
“It looked like a great opportunity to get some interdisciplinary training—to comprehensively understand energy,” Chen says.
Chen is now enrolled in the certificate program and has completed his first year at Wharton—next year, he will serve as co-president of the Wharton Energy Club. He has already taken several certificate courses, including his favorite: “Energy Law and Climate Change” taught by Ken Kulak and Ed Comer at PennLaw.
He also took “Energy Markets and Policy” taught by Wharton professor Arthur van Benthem. The course focused on electricity and energy markets—from an economist’s view—with an emphasis on oil extraction, cap and trade, and unintended policy consequences, among other topics.
Chen also took “Energy Finance,” taught by Jerome Taillard. Although the material primarily covered finance in oil and gas (not clean energy), he says he appreciated the foundation it offered him.
“The transition from fossil fuels to low carbon energy is happening, but there’s a lot of work ahead. There are valuable lessons from the oil and gas industry that can be applied to clean energy, particularly around financial innovation.”
While Chen says the main reason he pursued the certificate program was to catch the attention of future employers, he also saw the benefits beyond just the credential. Because the certificate program is interdisciplinary, with course offerings at several schools, he has made friends with like-minded students from Engineering, PennLaw, Arts and Sciences, and Wharton.
Being a certificate student also connects you with the many resources at the Kleinman Center, Chen points out. Accessing the latest energy research, being mentored by leading energy experts, and attending key events (like Former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy’s visit), have all “been very beneficial.”