When Khushboo Goel, an MBA student at Penn’s Wharton School, received two competing summer offers—one at the United Nations and the other at the International Energy Agency (IEA) in Paris—the decision was “surprisingly easy,” she said.
“While I knew that I wanted to work in an intergovernmental organization, the Kleinman Birol Fellowship at the IEA also offered specific experience in the field of energy,” said Goel. “And this is where I wanted my career to go.”
The Kleinman Birol Fellowship is offered though the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy at PennDesign, in partnership with the IEA. As a summer fellow, Goel is working on deep decarbonization strategies in India and the United States—research that will culminate in an insight paper that will be published on the IEA website.
“I would say this is an opportunity you don’t get often,” she said. “The opportunity to access all of the top knowledge in world energy. The opportunity to work with people from around the world. The opportunity to learn and work on something you are interested in—while at the same time coming home with an international publication.”
Goel became interested in energy while working at a large consulting firm in India. She worked on an array of projects, but particularly enjoyed the public sector and all things energy. She worked on a port development project focused on optimizing operations at India’s twelve major ports. Later, she worked on identifying and developing the bi-lateral trade strategy focused on energy investments between India and Spain. “I picked this project because I’m invested in what’s happening in India and the U.S. And I see myself working in one of these countries,” said Goel, who is originally from Delhi and is currently president of the Wharton India Economic Forum.
With a bachelor’s degree in commerce from Delhi University and a wealth of work experience, Goel entered Wharton’s MBA program. Her interest in energy continued at Wharton, where she served as the team lead on a project in Kenya to help women in clean energy. She also worked on a school project with the Philadelphia Energy Authority, to help develop financial instruments for attracting funding for the city’s distributed solar program.
This summer at the IEA, Goel is assigned to the gas, coal and power team. Because of the cross-disciplinary nature of her research, she is interfacing with other teams, including those in technology, renewables, and energy efficiency.
Goel says her experience at the IEA has been “above and beyond” what she hoped for. Unlike a typical internship, Kleinman Birol fellows get to select and design their own projects, she explained. Because of this, she is connected to internal experts who mentor and direct her. And these types of connections go beyond the walls of the IEA. Recently, IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol arranged a meeting to introduce Goel to India’s ambassador to France. Goel was able to personally share her research with the ambassador—one of the highlights of her summer experience.