MBA Summer Internship: PG&E in California
September 24, 2013 -- Guest post by Wrishi Sutradhar T'14 --
My long term goal is to work in the energy industry, and even though I came to Tuck with five years of oil and gas experience, I wanted to work in an organization that focuses on customer delivery within the industry. So for my summer internship, I chose to work for Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) based in San Francisco, California. PG&E is one of the largest public utility companies in the U.S. and is regulated by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). Given the current trends in the U.S. energy industry and the regulations surrounding it, PG&E sits at an inflection point in its history and is working on modernizing its businesses. Many issues of national importance that we debated at the Center for Global Business and Government (CGBG) can be seen directly impacting PG&E’s business.
I worked as a leadership intern in the company’s gas business. My primary goal was to realign the company’s operating model with its organizational structure. In simple terms, the company has a business process to plan, prioritize, and execute work. Ideally the organization should be structured to efficiently execute projects according to operating model. However, in large organizations that have grown organically this poses a major challenge. Therefore one of my primary challenges was to communicate regularly with senior executives and understand exactly what their teams were mandated to do. I was not only able to gather this information for 10 key director portfolios but my recommendations became part of the company’s ‘Workforce Planning’ strategy.
My day-to-day work involved attending strategy meetings with managers and directors and effectively communicating the progress of our project. Tuck's ManComm classes I took during spring term were really helpful in shaping the content that I presented at these meetings. Moreover, even though I had the technical background in the industry, very often I had to explain complicated business issues to team members from many different backgrounds. This experience reminded me of my study group and FYP [First-Year Project] experience when I interacted with classmates who came from a variety of different industries and backgrounds. In hind sight, I believe the experiential portion of the Tuck first-year curriculum significantly contributed to the success of my summer experience.
I also developed a strong network of friends and colleagues and even though I had worked in the U.S. before, I came to appreciate the openness in the American work environment all over again. Even in a large organization like PG&E, my opinion was given as much value as any other senior employee’s. I made a lot of friends in the MBA internship cohort, most of who were from Tuck’s competing schools. I was very impressed to hear their opinion about Tuck. When we are inside the Tuck community, I believe, sometimes we take for granted the amazing close-knit environment that the school offers. To hear good things about this community from outside observers made me feel really proud.
Outside of work, I utilized most of my free time exploring the West Coast. Among other places, I drove to Monterey, Big Sur National Park and the very popular “17-mile drive”. I found myself near the ocean more often than I wanted to. So one morning I decided to drive to the wine country to visit a really special winery. Castello di Amorosa is a winery located near Calistoga, California. It is the pet project of a fourth generation vintner, Dario Sattui who decided to build the winery in the form of an ancient castle. I highly recommend a trip to Castello not just for its fine wine but also for the amazing tours! On other days, I walked around San Francisco exploring its variegated culture and way of life. While I had been to San Fran as a tourist before, living this life up close was a novel experience for me. What impressed me most was the city’s extremely progressive culture and assimilative nature. I think San Francisco is a true microcosm of the United States.
In the last week of my summer, as I sat near the Fisherman’s Wharf comparing among other things the weather in San Francisco and Hanover, I had a difficult time picking one over the other. I will keep you posted if my opinion changes in the winter.
(Photos - Top: the author (on right) with a friend visiting the Golden Gate Bridge. Bottom: the author at a Giants baseball game with friends.)
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