By Leon Tsutsumi, Class of 2019
The energy industry is a hot arena (no pun intended). What are the emerging technologies, investments, and players in the space? What are the consequences of fracking? How should investors view the volatile pricing environment? Who are the innovators of the future that will transform energy use? Booth’s Energy Forward Conference, held on April 13th, was the best place to answer these questions.
The Chicago Booth Energy Group is a student organization that prepares members for careers in energy-related industries. With a membership of 70+ Boothies, it hosts various activities ranging from recruiting support to socials. Among these, the Energy Forward Conference is the most important event for the community, with 200-300 students and alums from the UChicago community attending each year. The conference discusses the latest developments in the economics, policies and investment opportunities of the energy industry in a global context.
Last week, on April 13, we held the conference at the University Club of Chicago, with over 200 people participating from across the nation. At the rise of the curtain, Sam Ori (MPP ’03), Executive Director at EPIC, made the opening remarks, followed by the opening keynote address by Jeff Currie (PhD ’96), Global Head of Commodities Research at Goldman Sachs. These were followed by three panels, focusing on Oil & Gas, Energy Investment, and Power & Utilities, with each digging deeper into the most important issues in the Energy sector today. The Oil & Gas panel focused on strategies for managing assets in a maturing shale environment, while in the Energy Investment panel, experts shared their views on how to deploy capital in a risky environment. The Power & Utilities panel, meanwhile, discussed the uncertainty and opportunities surrounding merchant power generation, a topic that raises many important questions for all stakeholders involved.
During and after lunch, we had the fortune to listen to two consecutive keynote speeches. Michael O’Sullivan (MBA ’87), Senior VP of Development at Nextera Energy Resources and Michael Polsky (MBA ’87), Founder, President & CEO of Invenergy shared their insights as industry leaders. Dean Madhav Rajan had an excellent conversation with Michael Polsky during the keynote, during which we got to learn about Polsky’s spectacular journey from engineer to entrepreneur and his views on renewables.
The afternoon session, following the two mid-day keynote speeches, consisted of two panels - Renewables and Transportation. The renewables panel examined ‘energy utopia’, exploring recent innovations to see how our current systems are being changed by these technologies. The Transportation panel discussed the prevalence of electric vehicles and its impact on the energy industry. We concluded the action-packed and informative day with a cocktail reception and networking at The Gallery, on the 12th floor of the University Club that overlooks the beautiful Millennium Park.
Leon is a marathon runner, automobile geek, science lover, and father.