NYWSE Profiles in Leadership Presents
NYC Energy Leaders: Part 1
By Malin Meyer
Men have traditionally dominated the energy sector, but in NYC several women have emerged as forceful leaders and have helped put the spotlight on female presence in the field. These women have chosen to work in one of NYC’s most exciting and impactful domains - one still largely governed by men - and can serve as much needed role models for women aspiring to be involved in the NYC energy space. To highlight the important role that women serve in the NYC sector, NYWSE is presenting a two-part interview series with Angelique Mercurio, the Founder and CEO of Enerknol - a platform for energy policy data information and analytics, and Kristin Barbato, the Vice President of Customer Energy Solutions at the New York Power Authority (NYPA).
This week, NYWSE is putting the spotlight on Angelique Mercurio, who in addition to working in a male-dominated field, is also an entrepreneur with her own company.
You are the CEO and Founder of your own business, Enerknol. What made you take the leap and start your own business?
I originally pursued a career in finance and worked in banking until I went to business school at MIT Sloan. This introduction to the energy industry really took root during my MBA internship at Barclays. That summer, I rotated through four sales and trading desks: mortgages, fixed income, foreign exchange, and energy commodities. From day one in commodities, I was hooked. I knew that the energy desk was the only one for me.
As an energy policy analyst, I experienced first-hand the challenges of tracking US energy policy information across hundreds of state and federal government offices. I realized the need for a more efficient process was a widely shared across the industry. So with that in mind, I created EnerKnol to address this problem, to provide financial institutions with a streamlined source of U.S energy policy information to support investment decisions across the industry, from oil & gas, to environmental commodities, to renewable power technologies, and beyond.
You did not start out your career as an entrepreneur. How has your previous career experience helped you successfully establish and nurture your business?
Having spent the first decade of my career on Wall Street, I most enjoyed advising clients on U.S. policy developments in the energy and environmental markets. At the same time, I experienced first-hand the challenges of tracking important policy information across the vastly fragmented US government landscape. I started EnerKnol by doing what I already loved doing on Wall Street: advising clients on US policy developments in the energy and environmental markets.
What excites you the most about your field?
I loved my job as policy analyst at Barclays… it felt great to have an edge, having a unique understanding of policy made my input valuable to the big energy capital movers and decision makers. But more importantly, sharing of my expertise to these people helped drive forward energy investments. It was in that job, which for the first time in my career, I knew that my work made a difference. Now, I get provide that type of information access and transparency not only to a group of clients at one bank, but to the world.
The energy sector is largely dominated by men, especially in leadership positions. As a result of this, have you found that women face special challenges in the field? If so, how have you strived to overcome them?
I can’t say being a woman in this space have ever been challenging. We definitely STAND-OUT as the only women-led company at ACRE, the energy technology incubator where our office is based. Being an ACRE startup is incredible, a space filled with New York’s most brilliant energy entrepreneurs. The fact that every other company in the incubator is founded by men has made no noticeable difference to me. We are a small team at EnerKnol, and besides me, our NYEW-Director is a woman, our chief policy strategist in DC, and the majority our research team members are also women. I actually didn’t plan it this way, talented brilliant women just keep finding their way to us!
Throughout my professional experience, I’ve observed how the strong communication and listening skills women bring facilitate thinking outside the box and finding alternative solutions to what could otherwise be looked at at problems or roadblocks. Having more women in energy will lead to driving the industry forward faster, with the growth needed for North America to remain a significant voice in the global sphere.
What has been your proudest accomplishment in your career?
Last summer EnerKnol was recognized by the White House Energy Data Initiative as one of “America’s leading private sector innovators using open data to solve our nations greatest energy challenges”. We were one of 30 companies invited to showcase our work at the White House Energy Datapalooza. The eight of us piled onto the bus to DC, and as we were setting up EnerKnol’s demo station, right between Opower’s and the EPA’s, seeing the pride on my team members’ faces was probably my proudest moment I can remember.
Creating New York Energy Week is also up there. EnerKnol is the first company to break down silos by bringing together every sector of the energy industry at a dozen partner-hosted events in a single week. Last year we had more than 3,000 participants at the events here in NY, and an online reach of more than one million energy professionals worldwide. Now an annual initiative, our team is having a blast gearing up for the third annual New York Energy Week coming up this June.
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