After two years in a management rotation program with the industrials giant Siemens AG, Rotimi Thomas is now working in a role that marries his passions for energy, environment, and emerging markets. As a Development Fund Investment Manager for Siemens Power & Gas, he helps steer the company’s investment in development funding investments in Africa.
Originally from Nigeria, Rotimi graduated in 2013 from Duke’s MEM/MBA joint degree program with a focus in Energy & Environment. We asked him to share thoughts on his career since graduation and his passion for bringing clean energy to the developing world.
What do you think are the most critical skills needed as an MBA entering the energy industry?
I believe that creativity, patience, and skills associated with capital markets are all critical for students entering the workforce in an energy career. Business development and market strategy are also important to anyone entering the industry in the coming years.
What has been the most rewarding part of your job so far?
Thus far, I have most enjoyed getting to pursue my dream of potentially developing and funding power projects in Nigeria that will make a noticeable difference for the country. Building out a power concept that will change Africa’s power landscape, if successful, has given me optimism for what the future may hold.
I love that I get to be an intrapreneur, leveraging the Siemens platform to potentially light up Africa. A couple of projects I’m working on have the capacity to begin this process for the bulk of sub-Saharan Africa. Having this great an impact on the lives of others and the conceivable development of Sub-Saharan Africa’s power market is by far the best part of the job.
What are some of the most interesting trends affecting your business right now?
Some of the trends affecting Siemens now are a shift to the importance of emerging markets for power deals and an increasing global shift to faster, more flexible turbines. This switch to smaller more flexible gas turbines is one of many changing trends, along with hybrid power solutions and the emergence of “prosumers” (producing customers).
What is the ultimate impact you hope to make?
Ultimately, I hope to light up Africa and enable further wide spread economic development by providing affordable, available, and reliable power supply across the continent. I’m tired of the fact that long power outages are the norm in Sub-Saharan Africa and that we rely so much on environmentally harmful sources for power generation. The utter lack of access to electricity is what I hope to help abolish.