- Programme studied: Executive Global Master's in Management
- Year of Graduation: 2020
- LinkedIn profile
Meet our September Alum of the Month, Andres Friedman. Andres is Co-Founder and CEO at Solfium, a solar energy tech company that makes solar power more accessible to homes and businesses. After graduating from LSE's EGMiM programme in 2020, Andres pivoted his career after 16 years in the Aerospace industry.
Why did you decide to study the Executive Master’s in Management (EGMiM) at LSE?
I’ve always wanted to study at LSE. I was first accepted in 1999 for my undergraduate degree but couldn’t attend. 19 years later I was delighted to start my Executive Global Master’s in Management at LSE.
The EGMiM was the right program for me. Having undertaken a Bachelor of Commerce & Economics in my undergrad, combined with 17 years of corporate experience, I always felt that an MBA or EMBA, while potentially interesting and enriching from a networking point of view, would not provide me with the intellectual challenge that I was looking for. LSE’s academic approach provided a different lens to gain a deeper perspective on management theory and practice.
How did the EGMiM help you on your career journey?
It was a great springboard in my pivot from my corporate career to an entrepreneurial one. After 16 years in the Aerospace industry, I was looking to network with and be exposed to other industries, new technologies, and different approaches to business challenges. The structure and content of the EGMiM program helped me achieve that. In addition, the calibre of my EGMiM cohort was second to none; its diversity both in terms of personal and professional backgrounds provided the enriching environment that I was looking for and shaped a big part of my LSE experience. There were several current and aspiring entrepreneurs in my cohort that indirectly helped me in my career transition. One of those, Zach Magnan, joined me as Co-Founder and CFO of Solfium, our company that aims to make solar energy more accessible to homes and businesses.
What is the greatest challenge you have had to overcome in your career and what lessons have you learned from it?
I have been fortunate to have been selected for leadership development programs at my former company Bombardier, which have allowed me to work and live in Canada, Mexico, Germany, while also running projects in Asia and North Africa. This career path required me to change roles frequently, from Finance to Strategy, Supply Chain, Production/Operations and finally as Program Director, running one of Bombardier’s new aircraft programs. The biggest challenge was adapting to these very different new roles, which required fast learning, and a lot of flexibility, especially when working across cultures.
These experiences have led me to gain a broad perspective on business which is very useful in any role. I always encourage my team members and younger colleagues that I’ve mentored to seek exposure beyond their immediate teams and departments, and to learn about other parts of their organisations.
What inspired you to start your business, Solfium, and what impact is it having?
My Co-Founders and I created Solfium to facilitate and therefore accelerate the adoption of solar energy in homes and businesses. Many people are attracted to the idea of adopting solar energy but get discouraged because it’s a technically complex and long undertaking (from finding an installer, understanding the type of system, getting a quote, the installation, and managing the whole life-cycle which can last 25 years).
Solfium provides an easy alternative with its innovative platform that has “Uber” and “Amazon” elements in its busines model. The whole process is managed with a user-friendly app; after the installation the customer can monitor and manage their electricity usage and generation, savings, and the environmental impact of their photovoltaic system.
Solfium launched operations in Mexico and we plan to scale up in Latin America next before going to other parts of the world.
What do you see as the future for renewable energy?
Residential solar needs to be a bigger component of the energy mix if we want to achieve CO2 neutrality by 2050 (large solar and wind projects alone won’t get us there). My vision for Solfium is to help make solar energy ubiquitous, present in every home, just like a TV or a fridge. It took 30-35 years for the latter to achieve almost 100% penetration, we can’t afford to wait that long to switch to renewable energy. On the other hand, as an industry, we will need to find ways to cope with the increased demand on key raw materials, and ensure our industry is more circular (for example by developing more efficient ways to recycle and reuse solar panels).
What is your fondest memory whilst you were studying with us?
While the overall experience was memorable, the overseas module of the EGMiM in India was my highlight of the program. We got to visit fantastic companies and social organisations that showed us how business innovations can make a difference in society. I also got to celebrate my 40th birthday in a rooftop bar in Bangalore with all my friends from the EGMiM!