This is our third blog post with Farhan Farrukh, #InnoVoice and InnoEnergy Master’s student. In this blog, he will report on the InnoEnergy Game-Changing Impact Challenge, let us know how he is preparing for an internship, and tell us about some of the exciting events he has recently attended.
I really can’t believe just how much things have changed over the course of this year. I have moved to France, which was incredibly challenging but an unmissable opportunity. I have experienced a new culture, improved my spoken French and got to see first-hand how business is done in a different country.
As if that wasn’t enough I have been busy finishing off my Master’s project and setting about organising an internship so I can take my career to the next level.
Events are a great way to broaden your perspective
A key part of planning for the future is continued education and taking advantage of networking opportunities. The European Utility Week, held in November 2018 in Vienna, gave me the chance to do both. It is an event which brings energy focused organisations and professionals together under one roof, and provided me with an opportunity to connect with what may well be my future employers and find out about the roles they offer. I also used it as a way to find out what energy organisations are focusing on right now and where they are investing their resources.
Perhaps most importantly it was whilst I was in Vienna that I got to take part in the InnoEnergy Game-Changing Impact Challenge. In short, the Challenge saw InnoEnergy students from all sorts of different backgrounds and universities come together to try and come up with real-life business solutions.
Focusing on technical issues, the primary goal of the three-day challenge was to solve a concrete problem and develop a business proposition. In order to manage this, we were all put into teams using The GC Index®, an assessment tool that provides insight on people impact – this enabled us to understand very early on how each person could contribute to the project. It was great to have an understanding of how we could all contribute to the project so early on and to be able to bounce ideas around with the team without a filter.
My team was responsible for solving the Energy Web Foundation challenge, which is centered around blockchain, a new concept not many people understand.
During the challenge, we had access to directors from Energy Web Foundation, who acted as mentors. Working so closely with them enabled us to build a really strong relationship with very senior individuals, draw on their knowledge about the business to develop a solution that was fit for purpose and showcase our skills.
After developing our business solution, we were only given five minutes to pitch our ideas as a team. Obviously, this forced us to be concise, to truly understand our solution and to seize the judge’s attention. We used a smattering of humour to engage our audience and made sure we finished with a really strong message. Despite the quality of the competition, we managed to come out on top.
It was fantastic to have exposure to different energy companies at EUW and see how they are tackling problems. I made some great connections and I am now in the process of working with them to organise an internship.
Building your network
My development hasn’t just come about through competition however. The InnoEnergy Game-Changing Impact Programme also arranges coaching sessions, and mine have been fantastic. I have been privileged enough to spend time with industry leaders, who have bought the proverbial t-shirt, and given me the tools I will need to make my career as successful as possible
One coach talked about the power of social media and the fact it’s such a great tool to use to connect with people as well showcase skills. I took this on board and whilst I was in Vienna made sure I connected to people via social media. I have also set up a Twitter account for a business myself and some other students are working on: @PowerBlockPB
With the Power Block team members all located in different countries and studying it could be very easy for the business to go on the back burner. But we have a common goal and real understanding of how each of us contribute to this.
We used The GC Index®, delivered by InnoEnergy, as the basis of the team behind Power Block. This mean we all understand how each of us can best contribute to the business, how we see our own roles, and how we can bring the best out of each other. It has led to real sense of trust between us, which has improved our team-work immeasurably.
It is very early days but we have already had some interest and are planning to pitch to business hubs early next year to test the concept and secure some investment.
Making the most of the InnoEnergy community
InnoEnergy has created a wonderful community, where students can get involved as much or as little as they like, by simply accessing information online and listening to webinars, to attending events and volunteering.
Personally, I have volunteered to support the CommUnity delivered by the InnoEnergy team. I recently helped organise the annual flagship CommUnity event, which focused on sustainability and attracts hundreds of students and employers. As the lead of the speaker series part, I had to organise and get in contact with nine diverse speakers who came from different parts of Europe.
Not only did it enable me to develop and showcase skills in leadership, communication, working well with a team, and finding solutions for problems but I also got to put my marketing and event planning skills to the test. It was a great opportunity to make new contacts, make some amazing contacts and, most importantly, also given me some fantastic opportunities to showcase to future employers.