Sebastian Despuig Reid
What work experience/internships did you have before beginning with Imperial College Business School?
I conducted research on the behaviour of offshore wind turbine foundations, which was very beneficial to understand how the technical aspects of a project impact the financial side of it.
Why did you decide to study an MSc Climate Change, Management & Finance at Imperial College Business School?
I’ve always liked to see projects from a broad perspective and my engineering degree alone didn’t provide me with all the necessary skills to do so. This MSc gave me the chance to explore the renewable energy industry from the point of view of investors, who will manage technical, policy, financial and operational risks throughout different stages of a project.
Additionally, Imperial College Business School had a really broad exposure to industry. I was able to attend company and industry presentations, as well as, panel discussions which gave me the chance to ask many questions and understand what career path I wanted to pursue. If you prepare by doing research about the specific company, topic or the speakers, it is very easy to engage and keep contact with them. I managed to follow up and meet up for a coffee where I have received career guidance and I even got invited to a couple of interviews.
What aspects of the programme do you most enjoy, and find most rewarding?
The classmates all come from a number of different disciplines contributing with a wide range of perspectives. All the activities organised around the teaching add great value to the programme with the opportunity to meet members of the advisory board, guest speakers, lecturers and students from other departments.
Which has been your favourite module so far and why?
Clean Tech Innovation and Investment was my favourite module of the programme. It provides you with a small taste of what you will be doing as an investor in the renewable energy space. We were assigned a team task where we will simulate the process of advising an investor on a renewable energy project. Chris Hunt, who is partner at Riverstone, attended the presentation and provided us with some feedback.
What has been the most challenging part of the programme?
The whole programme itself is challenging, it’s quite an intense year and the range of topics that you will cover are incredibly varied. However, the most challenging part for me, has been combining the MSc with applying to jobs. From researching companies and networking to writing cover letters and preparing for interviews, the process of finding a job is time consuming. I would suggest to not underestimate that part and start applying as soon as you start the programme because it’s a learning process.
How do you describe your cohort at imperial?
The cohort has been very close throughout the whole time, coming from a wide range of disciplines and providing many perspectives. I would say that I learnt almost as much from my class mates as from my lecturers this year.
Did you have a favourite professor/lecturer and why?
Josue Tanaka was my favourite lecturer of the programme and he taught us Climate Finance. Josue delivered the module in a comprehensive way from the perspective of industry, encouraged class participation and he was a great role model for a leader who has made a significant impact in developing countries.
Imperial places a large emphasis on group work; what did you like the most about working in this type of environment?
Overall the experience of group work was good and necessary to develop the experience that you will need in the workplace. There are always going to be people who you will be able to connect and coordinate with better. However, learning how to work with the rest of members, who you don’t always agree with and tackle problems from a different perspective is the most valuable experience.
What has been the greatest opportunity you have had at Imperial?
The greatest opportunity that Imperial provided me with is to be able to discuss the topics I am interested in with industry leaders and gather their point of view within an informal but professional discussion. These leaders could be lecturers, members of the advisory board, alumni, etc.
Which workshops, events or guest lectures at the school have been useful in developing your skills and knowledge?
In general, all guest lecturers have been excellent and the mixture set by the management team gave us an exposure to a wide range of issues related to climate change. I would highlight the 10th Anniversary Annual Lecture from the Grantham delivered by Al Gore as a great lesson of leadership, as well as, Bjorn Otto, Senior VP of Sustainability at Equinor (formerly Statoil) explaining the transition of a pure oil and gas company to a wider energy company.
How have you benefited from being part of the wider Imperial College London community, including Imperial’s Grantham Institute?
One of the main reasons why I choose to study this programme at Imperial is the wide networks it has across many disciplines from business to science and engineering. As a student I got to meet people across many disciplines which offer you a wide perspective of different issues in their respective industries.
What are your future career goals and how have they been realised since being at Imperial?
Combining my degree in Civil Engineering and this MSc, I would like to pursue a career in developing infrastructure that plays a key role to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Throughout my career I have studied the offshore wind industry in depth and I hope to work in some of those deals from the investor’s perspective at some point.
Have you received any job offers since commencing your programme?
I will be joining the Project Finance team at Natixis at the end of this MSc, where I will be working on a number of renewable energy projects and transport and social infrastructure. I will mostly be covering the UK market, with the possibility to cover some deals in Eastern Europe and the Middle East.
How did the services from Careers help you secure employment/in your professional development?
Careers offered me great support along the way. I started applying very early and with their help, I went through a steep learning process. Imperial College Business School Careers offered great support across all the stages of the application from tailoring my CV and cover letter to conducting mock interviews and collecting feedback.
Do you think studying in a central location such as London is beneficial for networking and career opportunities? Please share any positive experiences you have had.
Studying at a university with such a great reputation in central London is a great advantage to meet people from industry and bridge the gap between theory and practice. There are different events every week held by Imperial College Business School Careers, career clubs or the Programme team, where different companies present themselves or panel discussions about a particular topic. The fact that they are just around the corner.
Where do you live in London and why did you choose to live there?
I live close to Brixton, in a quiet street. The pace of living in London is quite high and I like getting away from the busy streets at the end of the day. Additionally, I enjoy living and studying in different parts of the city to feel connected to the wider society.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time in London? Have you had opportunities to travel?
The Master’s is quite intense but it still gives you time to enjoy the city and do some sport. There’s a group of around 15 of us who meet every other weekend to play football near Battersea and there are plenty of opportunities to go for a drink after class to the student’s union or in other parts of the city during the weekend.
If you had to move to London for the programme, what have been the benefits and challenges of moving to London? What advice would you give to someone in a similar position?
London is great city, it’s very dynamic and very diverse, and you hear people speaking in many different languages and accents. There are plenty of concerts, sports events and theatre plays, but living on a student budget it may be hard to get to do many of these activities.
When you move to London for the first time it may be very tempting to move close to a landmark or a vibrant area. If you are moving from a smaller town or city, I would recommend to move somewhere that has good transport links to the centre but is not too central, it will be quieter, you won’t be surrounded by tourists all the time and it will be cheaper.
Looking back to when you were applying for the programme, did you attend any online webinars or on-campus information sessions? Did you find these a useful part of the recruitment process? Would you recommend that prospective students attend these events?
I attended an online webinar when the application round had just opened. It gave me the opportunity to ask any questions I had to the students and Mirabelle, the Programme Director. Given that this programme is very niche, speaking to the students was helpful to understand that the programme was suitable for me.
What advice would you give someone who is thinking about applying for the programme?
The programme is designed to train the next generation of leaders in climate change across different industries with a particular focus in finance. However, the programme is not specifically tailored to students who would like to only work in banking. Whether you want to work for an NGO, FMCG or in energy or finance this programme could be suitable for you regardless of the industry you would like to end in. If you are curious, like to be challenged and you are eager to make an impact, this is probably the right programme for you.