Paying it Forward: Alumni’s success opens doors for new graduates

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Premiere Energy Auction energy consultants Michael Warren (left) and Spencer Bernstein (right) work with a client on his company’s future energy plans.
Premiere Energy Auction energy consultants Michael Warren (left) and Spencer Bernstein (right) work with a client on his company’s future energy plans.
December 6, 2013

When Spencer Bernstein (’13 B.S. EBF) and Michael Warren (’13 B.S. EBF) began working at Premiere Energy Auctions as energy consultants after graduating in May, they immediately were placed into the company’s standard training program for new hires. It did not take long, however, for these two Penn State energy business and finance (EBF) graduates to show their employer they were not standard trainees.

“Spencer and Mike were able to grasp and expand on concepts faster than almost anyone else I have trained,” said Michael Weizman, business development manager for Premiere Energy Auctions. “Their in-depth understanding of the electricity and natural gas markets ultimately made my job easier and allowed them to begin contributing much sooner than our company average.”

Bernstein and Warren credit the comprehensive curriculum of the EBF major with preparing them so well for the demands of the energy market industry. “We have found that many of the courses we took were relevant to our careers at Premiere and have prepared us more than most of our colleagues,” Bernstein said. “For example, being based in New Jersey, the knowledge we learned about the PJM market has given us a better understanding and ability to consult on our clients’ energy needs. Additionally, the insight into the natural gas market and its direct impact on electricity prices broadened our knowledge of the energy industry as a whole.”

Overwhelmingly impressed with their skills right out of the gate, Weizman, himself a 2011 EBF graduate, shares his new colleagues’ sentiments about the program. “The first impression I got from Spencer and Mike at last year’s Penn State Career Fair was that they both were very professional, organized, and knowledgeable about the energy industry. Then the true strength of the EBF program became clear to me once we began the training program.” That strength will bring Weizman back to Penn State this year for the Spring Career Fair in hopes of recruiting even more EBF graduates for his company. “In order to further my success with EBF graduates, I am scheduled to speak to EBF students the day before the Spring Career Fair to educate them about the opportunities we have available.  After that, I am confident we will be able to find a number of qualified individuals to quickly contribute like Spencer and Michael already have.”

Premiere Energy Auctions is a full-service energy consulting firm based in New Jersey. Energy consultants like Bernstein and Warren work with large commercial and industrial facilities to develop comprehensive energy plans that satisfy efficiency and sustainability goals. They also help companies procure their electricity and natural gas in the deregulated markets and ultimately reduce their overall energy costs. Their main tool to optimize savings is a unique process called a “reverse open auction,” in which suppliers compete with one another to win the consumer’s business. The auction is considered open because the suppliers are able to see each other’s bids in order to maximize competition.

Because of their advanced EBF coursework, Bernstein and Warren have been allowed to begin working directly with clients by helping them navigate the volatile energy markets. During their first two months on the job, they were able to procure over 12 million kilowatt-hours of electricity and save their clients a total of $86,000. With numbers like these, they have fast become up-and-coming stars within their team.

“Working for a startup company operating in the deregulated energy markets our primary goal is to expand and grow the company,” Bernstein said.  “With our educational background in Energy Business and Finance, we have formed a passion and knowledge-base that has prepared us to thrive in this type of atmosphere.” And as they thrive, so do the opportunities for their fellow EBF graduates.