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Centre for Building Sustainable Value · Rebecca Zuker, HBA '23 Candidate

Umad Khan: Creating sustainable impact - An MBA alum’s transition from Oil & Gas to renewables

Apr 6, 2023

UK (1)

Umad Khan, MBA ‘22, has made the big shift from Oil and Gas to Renewable Energy. He also works to provide students from underserved communities in Southeast Asia with mentorship and career development resources. 

After obtaining an engineering degree and working in the Oil and Gas industry for over seven years, Umad Khan, MBA '22, realized he was missing something - he wanted to start creating a sustainable impact in the sectors he operated in.  

Shifting Gears  

When working in the O&G industry Umad knew he served a greater purpose but understood that the industry needed extreme change to be sustainable. For him, 2020 was a turning point. Umad attended an energy conference for O&G executives in Houston and felt a sense of urgency regarding the need for sustainable development in the industry. He wanted to understand and be part of this conversation, which prompted him to return for an MBA to learn more about the role of corporations in this transition. 

"I realize that energy is a key catalyst for economic development. The energy transition requires everyone. It's not a full shift like many believe - it's a transition. Take the rising energy costs primarily caused by tensions in Ukraine - this example shows how one crisis can have a detrimental ripple effect. Corporations have always been central to economic progress through the development of technology, expertise and manpower thus having a critical role in building a more sustainable future.”  

During his time in the MBA program, Umad realized the impact and responsibility corporations have on shaping the world. The course Embedding Sustainability into Businesses taught by Prof. Robert Klassen helped him to further understand the balancing act between profitability and sustainability that corporations face.  

Umad currently works at BerQ RNG Inc. as a Business Development consultant. In this role, he develops renewable energy projects by looking for innovative ways to turn waste into energy.  Umad is currently investigating the business case of incorporating carbon capture infrastructure in the current renewable energy projects to further abate emissions and increase returns. This is specifically an interesting topic for him as carbon capture technology has taken a full circle since he last worked on it. During his undergrad, he worked on a carbon capture research project, and the key element holding back scaling the technology at the time was that there was limited commercial viability. However, in today's business world, he believes there is a growing market for carbon capture technology whether it’s for utilization of or storage of CO2. 

Creating Worldwide Impact  

Outside of his professional career, Umad is highly involved in the social impact space. He has co-founded an initiative called The Mentoring Program, which aims to uplift youth from underserved communities in Pakistan. The organization provides resources and mentorship for career development. Umad realizes that there is an immense gap between studying something in theory and being able to apply it in practice, especially in that part of the world, where there may be a lack of opportunity for practical application. To address this issue, his organization provides structured mentorship and practical workshops that enable individuals to practice their learnings, helping to provide them with an equal footing in the job market. 

Umad advises students interested in sustainability to seize opportunities and drive the integration of sustainability throughout the ethos of the companies they will be part of, rather than keeping it siloed as a separate subject. 

As for leadership, organizations today need to recognize that young professionals are seeking purpose and impact from their careers. Based on his experience in talent acquisition, Umad advises companies to embody their values and beliefs in action as a way to attract top talent. By aligning their practices with their words, companies can create a culture that empowers and motivates individuals to make a meaningful impact in the world. 

“Sustainability is an exciting and dynamic field to pursue, with a unique set of challenges that require adaptable and innovative solutions. Unlike other professional services that require a well defined set of technical skills, sustainability demands a diverse range of abilities, including critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration. With the urgent need for sustainable practices in all industries, the field is constantly evolving, presenting a window of opportunity for individuals to make a meaningful impact on the world. We are currently witnessing a renaissance in sustainability, where businesses and organizations are recognizing the value of implementing sustainable practices, making it a crucial time to enter and contribute to this field.” 

To connect with fellow alumni, join Ivey's LinkedIn Sustainability Community.