By TAMAKI STILES, Financial Analysis and Data Management Advisor, Leaders in Energy
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects that renewables will be as the world’s fastest-growing energy source – “increasing by 2.6% per year through 2040…”  To manage and take advantage of this growth, companies and organizations that have a stake in this sector – and not only energy companies – will be similarly looking to grow their staff, funding, and partnerships. On the flip side, professionals in clean energy and related fields are also looking for forums to share ideas and learn about opportunities.
Leaders in Energy has sought to fill these growing needs through creating a vibrant community of like-minded industry professionals. Starting with a LinkedIn group of just 25, Leaders in Energy is now a global community with well over 2,000 members. Here are some key facts about Leaders in Energy and the value it provides:
Mission: “Build a community of engaged leaders to enable and create a sustainable energy system, economy and world.”
On our LinkedIn group, Leaders in Energy Research, Communications, Policies & Analysis, there were 2,140 members as of May 17, 2016, and Leaders in Energy continues to grow rapidly. At the end of 2014, there were 1,140 members, so that means our membership has almost doubled within the span of a year and a half. In addition, we have 1,370 people on our mailing list who have attended our events. Moreover, we have over 650 followers on Twitter, 100 on Facebook, and many other connections through other means (many of our followers like to keep up with us across social media platform). Here we focus on the LinkedIn group, the origin of our group and the place where we have the strongest interaction.
Based on LinkedIn search, 77% of the group live in the U.S. and 23% outside the U.S. In fact, although we have a strong presence in the Washington, DC area where we hold our networking events, we strongly believe in building a global community, and one of our promising initiatives is a periodic webinar under the Leaders in Energy Without Borders banner. Two webinars have taken place so far – one on December 17, 2015 and another on February 29, 2016.
Out of those living in the U.S., 57% of them are located in the Washington, DC area, followed by 4% in New York, 3% in San Francisco and Baltimore, respectively (see Figure 1).
Figure 1: Location of Members (U.S.)
Figure 2 shows the top six industries where our members are currently involved in, categorized by DC members vs. all members. These categories are non-overlapping because on LinkedIn profile you need to choose one industry where you currently belong to (e.g. Oil & Energy). As expected, we have attracted people in Renewables & Environment. Also unsurprisingly, public policy is listed as the third most common industry in the DC area. Of course, these industry buckets are based on LinkedIn users’ own industry identifications, which may be aspirational. It is also important to point out that there may be confluence between industries. Indeed, Janine Finnell, Founder and Clean Energy Ambassador, has often said that our group is interdisciplinary in nature.
Figure 2: Top Six Industries
Profile of Leaders in Energy Members
Table 1 below shows another way of looking at the areas where our members have been involved in. This table was compiled simply by typing in keywords and seeking how many members had those keywords in their current and past titles. These keywords are almost certainly overlapping, unlike the categories in the prior table, which helps to account for the higher percentages. For example, John is currently the Director, Environment Management, while he was a sustainability intern in the past. In this case, he has had exposure to different areas.
What Table 1 indicates is that 61% of our members have careers (now or in the past) related to the environment. Energy policy is the second biggest area in DC, whereas it plays a lesser role outside DC. This is consistent with the top five functions of our members that we saw earlier. We see a big gap between DC and outside DC in the areas of Smart grid, Sustainability, and Energy efficiency.
Table 1: Keywords for Leaders in Energy Members
Top Five Functions
Beyond industry and location, one of the features LinkedIn allows is job function (see Figure 3). Again, these are self-identifications by the users. Seen from this perspective, almost a third of our members are involved in Research and Consulting. We are pleased to see that about 10% of our LinkedIn group are entrepreneurs, which is something that we have observed as well as entrepreneurs have been some of our most active members.
Figure 3: Top Five Functions
Well over half of our members have more than 10 years of experience (61% in DC). Mid-career professionals (6-10 years) account for roughly a quarter of members, and less than 20% are young professionals (less than 5 years). Our group welcomes professionals from all ages and celebrates generational diversity. This is the core theme behind our annual Four Generations (4Gen) event in December – see the recap from last year’s 4Gen event here.
Figure 4: Years of Experience
Given the high proportion of 10+ years’ experience in our group, it is not surprising that senior professionals account for more than 40% in DC and Leaders in Energy as a whole (the numbers below can overlap). If a user’s current or past title says, “Senior” Manager or “Senior” Advisor, for example, LinkedIn regards them as a senior professional. According to our conversations with LinkedIn, seniority is based on what users describe themselves, not based on LinkedIn algorithms. If they are currently Director and were Senior Advisor in the past, they are categorized as “Senior” as well as “Director”.
Figure 5: Seniority
The chart below shows what our members are “Interested in”. We can see a similar trend between DC and all members. Networking is their top interest. Learning is also important (Industry Expertise). People looking for jobs and consulting opportunities are also around 70% in DC and all members.
Table 2: “Interested In”
The “interested-in” data suggests that people join Leaders in Energy as a way to connect like-minded industry professionals. It implies that Leaders in Energy has informally served as a matchmaker for employers, collaborators, and perhaps investors. Through this matchmaking, we hope to help companies and organizations fill the needs of growing a more sustainable economy.
Tamaki Stiles is the Financial Analysis and Data Management Advisor for Leaders in Energy. Her experience includes financial models, budgets, economic analysis, and market research. She has served at companies such as ExxonMobil, TD Bank, and Toyota, where she has helped employers improve the accuracy of forecasts and supported decision-making.
 International Energy Outlook 2016.