Found the energy to fuel a career move

While managing advertising technology in South East Asia, a power outage made Fatima Sani (34) realize everything starts with energy and infrastructure.

- I was at a time in my career where I started to pay more attention to the key needs of my clients and how my skills applied to those needs. Working for a global organization inspired me to apply my skills in industries with complex digitization needs, so energy and infrastructure came on my radar, Sani says.

A mix of curiosity and coincidence had taken her from her native Portugal to business studies in UK, then to a small startup company, followed by Microsoft and finally on to Google – in London, Spain and Singapore. For 5 years, Fatima specialized in managing operations for new markets expansion, introducing Google’s advertising technology for YouTube globally.

After that effort, Sani stepped back to consider her next career move.

Applied for a job she knew she wouldn´t get

- I tried to identify what changes I saw in the world, and how I could position myself to take part of it. I took six months analysing areas for growth thoroughly. Looking back, perhaps that is my best advice: When it comes to important career decisions, take your time!

Focusing on energy and infrastructure, she started by determining what kind of qualifications she needed.

- I applied for another job in Google, which I knew I was not qualified for. It was all about using the process to learn exactly what skills I was missing and the real expectations on the job, Sani says.

The feedback was that she needed to specialize and advance her engineering knowledge. Within Google, she had years of international experience with product solution management, but now it was important to gain insight into how products were developed.

Her scope was bringing technology and businesses together. To get into the energy and infrastructure sector, she needed to relate to engineering – without being an engineer.

"It was valuable to collaborate and have exposure to CEOs, entrepreneurs, and other professionals from different companies and industries . This contact with industry leaders was unique to BI and provided a higher level of experience"

Fatima Sani

Regional Manager, Google

A 360 degree scope

- I ended up with a shortlist that came down to two options. One was in Germany, a full time program that required two years away from work. The other one was a part time Executive Program with BI Business School in Oslo, Sani says.

At the age of 29 she applied for BI and the Executive Master of Management in Energy. As a cooperative program between BI and the IFP School in Paris, the program offered a comprehensive and current overview of the entire energy value chain, from policy, legislation, tech, research and financing. The program exposes students to a rich network of faculty and top professionals in the field.

The method of delivery included quarterly gatherings with top lecturers from the schools and the industry, self-study and a final collaborative project assignment, students get a 360 degree scope a manager needs to have in order to succeed in the fast-changing energy sector.

- It was valuable to collaborate and have exposure to CEOs, entrepreneurs, and other professionals from different companies and industries . This contact with industry leaders was unique to BI and provided a higher level of experience, Sani says.

She thinks taking a professional program while staying in her job made the courses even more relevant.


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Invaluable to apply the knowledge in day to day situations

- There is so much innovation and change happening in the Energy sector, that I felt it was extremely important to constantly apply the things I learned in my day to day. The opportunity to be, and then step back for a few months getting new and up to date knowledge, reflect on it and then bring it back to my daily work, was invaluable, Sani says.

During the program she stayed in contact with the Director who had rejected her for the job initially. After graduating, she reapplied and was granted the position as Business Development Manager for Google´s Access and Energy Department.

One of her first tasks was to partner with telecom companies to build fiber networks in developing regions.

- My job was to identify countries that met a business criteria and develop partnership models for that infrastructure. I got to use everything I had learned from the EMME program, like policy analysis, legal conditions, infrastructure and finance management. I dealt with local authorities, potential partners and international organizations like the World Bank and IFC. With BI and the EMME program I evolved from a tech specialist to a manager of infrastructure projects, Sani says.