Alex is an Energy Projects Manager based in Luxembourg. He joined AWS in June 2019.
HereAtAWS: Tell us about your career journey. What brought you to your current role at AWS?
Alex: I have an engineering background and have developed my career in the energy industry, mostly in large utilities, managing different aspects of renewable projects but always in connection with my profound engagement to accelerate the energy transition and to fight climate change.
After 10+ years in that industry, I serendipitously received an offer to join Amazon, in their sustainability organization, to create and implement an EU specific energy program to meet the needs of our operations in the region.
It was exciting for me to move from energy companies, generators and utilities, to the other side of the table, and join a large customer with interesting ambitions and sustainability goals such as Amazon. I was also extremely curious about the company and the culture.
I was amazed by the Day One mentality, and the level of autonomy and empowerment received. In three years, I managed to build a small team, closed the first renewable deal for Amazon outside of the US, and launched our energy efficiency design program for the fulfilment centers, and many other amazing programs and projects. This was all leading to Amazon’s climate pledge announcement in 2019, which made me a real proud Amazonian.
At that time, I was invited to change gears and join the AWS energy team, and focus on large-scale renewable negotiations and power infrastructure for our data centers. That resonated with my background in utilities, knowledge of energy markets, passion for contractual negotiation, and my interest for international exposure. Since I joined, I’ve led our energy projects in South Africa, Middle East, and South Europe.
HereAtAWS:Can you explain in simple terms: your role, who your customers are, and how you help them?
Alex: My role consists on enabling the expansion of our AWS Infrastructure, by evaluating where it is feasible to build new data centers in relation to power availability, managing the actual development of the power infrastructure required to supply those new data centers, and procuring the renewable energy for their operations to meet our 100% renewable goals.
HereAtAWS: What technical and/or soft skills do you need to succeed in your role?
Alex: The role requires a good understanding of the energy markets, and all its aspects; from technical, regulatory, financial and political drivers that affect how we can or cannot operate in each country.
Beyond this technical skill, I do a lot of contractual negotiations, financial modelling and project management, interacting with hundreds of internal and external stakeholders in each specific project. It requires good communication (in different languages many times), cultural awareness, organisation and project management skills.
HereAtAWS: Have you had to learn any specific new skills (technical or soft) for your role?
Alex: Yes, absolutely! What we do is pretty innovative. The type of renewable energy contracts that we negotiate are still rare, and I have had to learn a lot about energy markets in countries that were new to me, such as South Africa.
HereAtAWS: How does your work with customers help to make a positive impact on society?
Alex: Energy consumption of the data centers is among the most visible environmental footprint of our operations. By directly working on this, I have a direct impact on our sustainability commitments. Negotiating more reliable connections to the grid, allow us to reduce the dependence of polluting diesel generators, and by negotiating the renewable contracts, we make sure the grids in which we operate become greener, for us and for our customers.
HereAtAWS:What’s the most exciting part of your job?
Alex: Learning about new markets where AWS is evaluating the opportunity to build a region. Working with our public policy teams to understand the complexity and interconnections affecting the energy sector in the country, with other economic, social and political variables that I need to consider.
HereAtAWS: What advice would you give people joining AWS?
Alex: This is a fast paced, ambiguous environment. It allows you to develop your own role, invent and simplify every day, to learn and to be curious about so many things….but you need to also keep in mind to constantly deliver for your customer, and make sure you always move in the direction that will deliver to their needs.
HereAtAWS:What three words would you use to describe workdays at AWS?
Alex: Diverse, challenging and interesting.
HereAtAWS: Is there anything else you would like to add about your personal journey?
Alex: I love the international environment at Amazon, the possibility to work with people from all over the world, each bringing different cultures and flavours, but all sharing a common attitude at work based on our Leadership Principles.