When Mattox Hall graduated from Duke’s 3-year Master’s of Environmental Management/MBA joint degree program with a focus on Energy & Environment, he knew he wanted to work in the power sector. After weighing options, he decided to join the wind energy company Vestas in Portland, Oregon, where he now works in its Strategy & Market Intelligence group–a small team within Vestas Americas. Mattox’s role is in in business development and analytics. He is focused on helping the organization and sales teams understand where markets are headed and how to best take advantage of them.
We caught up with Mattox and asked him to share his thoughts on his role and his journey.
What’s been the most rewarding part of working at Vestas Americas so far?
I think our product is really cool and it’s a super exciting time to be working in the renewables industry. We’re at the beginning of what will be a long transformation of the electric power system both in terms of how power is generated but also how it is consumed. There are so many impressive changes happening in the industry right now–from the investment in new technology, turnover of existing assets and the speed with which everything is happening in an industry with investment horizons over many decades.
What are some of the most interesting trends affecting Vestas Americas right now?
I think that advancements in technology are having an incredible impact. Wind and solar are the cheapest forms of power both in terms of new build but also when compared to the marginal cost of the grid. Policy is also having a tremendous impact as the multiyear extension of the production tax credit gave the wind industry a level of certainty it has always lacked. The combination of policy certainty and lower costs is driving the market to be bigger than it has potentially ever been. We’re seeing new investors interested in owning projects – particularly utilities as they’re finding wind assets will reduce customer rates – and project economics penciling in regions and wind regimes where they would not have in the past.
How did Duke help prepare you for your career?
The team-oriented focus of Fuqua’s curriculum was super helpful to me in developing the collaborative skills necessary in the business world. I’m a better team member and leader as a result. The level to which people will go to assist you in both coursework and career was and continues to be helpful. Similarly, the Nicholas School was fundamental in terms of understanding energy, learning the basics of the industry and being competent in energy markets and technologies. I also discovered my passion for the electric power sector there. Both schools had a strong concentration of people interested in the energy sector.
What do you think are the most critical skills needed as an MBA entering the energy field?
I think with energy more than other industries, you have to be able to talk the talk. Having a good understanding of how the industry functions—both from a resource perspective and how that resource is put into action as a consumer product—is essential if you want to hit the ground running. Duke was great for that.
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