Youth Day: Energy Challenge as the part of the 9th St. Petersburg International Gas Forum 2019

On October 1-3, 2019 the final events of the project of Youth Day: Energy Challenge were held at the 9th St. Petersburg International Gas Forum (SPIGF). It is the 5th jubilee edition of the project.

The organizer of event is Higher Economic School of St. Petersburg State University of Economics (HES UNECON) under the support of organizations members of International Business Congress (IBC): Gazprom, Gasunie, OMV, Uniper, Wintershall Dea, Shell as well as with partnership of Energy Delta Institute (EDI), European School of Management and Technology (ESMT), Schneider Electric, Siemens, Verbundnetz Gas (VNG) and Expoforum.

The main objective of Youth Day project is the providing of interactive educational platform united industry experts and talented youth from all around the world for transfer of knowledge about energy business and search of new ideas and solutions.

In 2019 the Youth Day project was carried out in a new format of Energy Challenge. It held two successive stages:

  1. 3-month online educational program at the Virtual Academy.
  2. 3-days meeting at the Youth Day of the 9th St. Petersburg International Gas Forum.

The participants of the project are talented master and post-graduate students from all over the world, experts and executives of major international energy companies, as well as representatives of the academic community.

More than 500 applications were submitted for participation in the Youth Day 2019. 223 students from 56 universities in 17 countries were invited to online educational program “Role of Gas in the Energy Balance” at the Virtual Academy.

Five training modules were conducted from April to July 2019. The students participated in 15 interactive webinars held by experts from the world’s leading energy companies, listened 2 video lectures, studied additional materials on oil and gas topics, completed 3 assignment (challenges) and presented their final #project_challenge. Based on the results of the Virtual Academy, 60 best students from 31 universities in 11 countries were invited to St. Petersburg to participate in the Youth Day of the 9th SPIGF on October 1-3, 2019.

Three days of the Youth Day program were full of formal and informal activities. On October 1 at the opening ceremony Elena Kasyan, Head of Department in Gazprom, and Yana Klementovichus, Director of HES UNECON addressed their welcome speech to participants.

To get to know each other, to identify leadership and teamwork skills, the participants played the #timbildingconstructor. Students from 11 countries, meeting for the first time, were able not only to establish a well-coordinated work, but also to set a record of the game to start the mechanism of the assembled construction by the first attempt. 

The second half of the first day was moderated by Vitaly Stelmashonok, PhD, Associate Professor of Innovation Management Chair of UNECON. He held SPIGF exhibition quest “In search for collaboration”. All participants were divided into 6 teams. Following the task, students had to visit various stands of energy companies and, after talking to their representatives, find ideas for cooperation. Finally, all the project proposals were presented and evaluated by the opponent teams. 

The whole day of October 2, was dedicated to the business game “Charge the City”, moderated by:

  • Christoph Burger, Senior Professor, ESMT
  • Natalia Sarakhanova, Scientific Researcher, HES UNECON
  • Pavel Metelev, Deputy Director, HES UNECON
  • Rob Veersma, Director Training & Development, Gazprom International Training B.V.

The game simulated the situations of uncertainty and variability typical for taking final investment decisions (FID) on energy markets. Participants had to find a way of providing electricity to a large city district. Moreover, the game was dynamic, the original conditions of the initial task has been changing during the game. The team’s solution should meet the expectations of all stakeholders as much as possible.

Experts from leading energy companies gave their consultations to the teams:

  • Julia Boermann, Senior Expert Strategy & Portfolio, Wintershall Dea
  • Dietrich Jochim, Senior Specialist Gas Purchase Russia, Gas Procurement, VNG Handel & Vertrieb
  • Alexey Koshelets, Head of Division (Strategy), Gazprom
  • Irina Kuznetsova, Specif er Leader for strategic projects, Schneider Electric
  • Jan Paul, Chief Scientist and Technology Manager, OMV Russia Upstream        
  • Konstantin Romanov, Head of Division (Green Innovations), Gazprom
  • Grigory Shevchenko, Business Development Manager, Uniper Global Commodities

In the final of the game, the teams presented their solutions to the stakeholders of the city (jury):

  • Britta van Boven, Director Strategy and Gas Business Development, Head of Representation in Russia, Gasunie
  • Lars Drage, Head of Exploration, Development and Production, OMV Russia Upstream
  • Margarita Hoffmann,Senior Vice President, Business Unit Midstream, Wintershall Dea
  • Marcel Kramer, President, EDI
  • Olga Orlova, Executive Director, Endowment Fund of UNECON
  • Maxim Nedzvetsky, Director General, Gazprom VNIIGAZ
  • Detlef Wessling, Head of technical cooperation, Uniper Global Commodities

3 teams with the best presentations shared the podium.

On October 3, after the plenary session of the 9th SPIGF, there was the key event of the Youth Day – Off-Tie Meeting with executives of energy companies on the topic“How to be competitive in 10 years and beyond?” The event was opened by Sergey Khomyakov, Deputy Chairman of the Management Committee of PJSC Gazprom, who also awarded certificates of honor to the best 7 students according to the individual rating based on results of the Virtual Academy and Gas Forum events.

Top-7 best participants of Youth Day 2019

Then the speakers – top managers of the leading energy companies – took their places on the stage:

  • Elena Burmistrova, Deputy Chairman of the Gazprom Management Committee of PJSC Gazprom
  • Andreas Schierenbeck, Chief Executive Officer, Uniper SE
  • Mario Mehren, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, Wintershall Dea GmbH
  • Han Fennema, Chairman of the Executive Board and CEO, N.V. Nederlandse Gasunie
  • Cederic Cremers, President and Country Chair, Shell Russia
  • Thomas Morris, Senior Vice President of OMV Russia Upstream GmbH

The meeting was moderated by Pevel Metelev, Deputy Director of HES UNECON and Rob Veersma, Training and Development Director in Gazprom International Training B.V.

After the welcome speeches the executives came down and joined one team each. For 15 minutes, they discussed various topics with students. Together they tryed to solve important dilemmas that energy industry faces: energy transition, digitalization, war for talents, environmental concerns, securing energy supply and energy security. All the dilemmas were united by the key topic of the Meeting: “What steps should companies take right now to be competitive in 2029 and beyond?”

Han Fennema (Gasunie) with Team Red

Then each team made a short presentation on its dilemma, receiving comments and questions from speakers and other participants.

Benedikt Behr, participant

A special support to the Youth Day was provided by the Rector of UNECON, Igor Maximtsev at the end of the Off-Tie Meeting. On behalf of the organizers he thanked all participants and partners of the project.

Igor Maximtsev, UNECON

Special thanks for the excellent work on the project should be expressed to the group of organizers from HES UNECON: Yana Klementovichus, Pavel Metelev, Mariia Shelepova, Yulia Bichun, Natalia Sarakhanova, Nikita Morgun, Vitaly Stelmashonok and Maria Apresyan.

In turn, the Youth Day team expresses gratitude to all partners for their willingness to look for new ways and means of cooperation with universities. Such interaction will allow to strength the energy industry with new professional and talented people. Participants of 2019 showed the highest level of skills and professional background, which was noted by all experts and managers. We hope that after a few years we will be able to meet them as participants of the business program of the St. Petersburg International Gas Forum (SPIGF).

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