Kina Markova just started working at Summit Energy and on her first day she interviewed Marleen Leconte, the Human Resources Manager. Summit Energy is a dynamic consultancy firm with different sites in Europe that helps its clients optimise their energy consumption. Here, Marleen reveals how you will definitely NOT get hired and tells us about her own very first working day...
Marleen Leconte joined GfE energy management as a young starter. She grew to a management position and when Summit Energy Inc. acquired GfE in 2006, she became HR-Manager.
In her current position she is responsible for HR and recruiting for the European operations.
E&M: What is Summit Energy all about, and what kind of a potential employer is it for young Europeans?
Marleen Leconte: Summit Energy is a market leader in the area of energy procurement management and sustainability consultancy, helping many different international companies with their gas and electricity purchase, as well as other services related to energy management and sustainability. We have been recently acquired by the French energy giant Schneider Electric, which means the start of a very exciting new period for us. In this sense, Summit might be a very interesting career choice for young Europeans because of the constantly changing market, the daily contact with diverse nationalities and the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of the energy business straight from the horse's mouth.
E&M: What are the typical starter positions in Summit in terms of functions and fields of work?
Marleen Leconte: Some positions such as risk management require a few years of experience because even the smallest mistake can cause severe losses for our clients. Therefore, they are not suitable for starters. However, other positions such as that of customer support analyst are a great match for recent graduates because they get the chance to improve their expertise and learn how to communicate with clients. The customer support analysts work under the direct guidance of the client energy managers and this job can be often seen as a stepping stone towards higher positions.
E&M: Is energy consultancy a world reserved only for men in suits or is this a common misconception? Are there job functions in Summit which are typically "female" or typically "male"?
Marleen Leconte: The energy business is still a small world dominated by men. For example, if you go to a conference about energy, you'll immediately notice that 80% of the participants are male. However, this ratio is beginning to change and the number of women choosing a career in this field is increasing. At Summit, we are trying to support this trend and we judge our applicants based on their qualities and not on their gender.
E&M: How culturally diverse is Summit and how do the different nationalities interact with each other?
Marleen Leconte: Summit is quite culturally diverse. Our main office is the United States and the European headquarters is situated in Belgium. In addition, we also have offices in France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Since we work with global clients, we also have native speakers for the various energy markets. In order to be able to communicate properly with each other, we have decided to choose English as our corporate language. We also strive to achieve a work atmosphere where people respect and cherish the cultural differences and perceive them as a valuable chance to broaden their perspective.
E&M: What are the qualities and qualifications required to get a job at Summit? Are there any do's and don'ts for an young applicant during a job interview?
Marleen Leconte: Depending on the job position, we look for specific qualifications. The majority of our team is comprised of graduates in Economics or Engineering with strong mathematical skills. Besides the educational credentials, the personality of the candidate is of great significance too. For us, it is essential that the applicant demonstrates from the very beginning eagerness, diligence and some basic understanding of the company's services and the energy market. A strong personalised motivations letter showing distinctive interest in this particular company is also a must. During my years of experience, I have quite often received motivation letters which have been copied from the internet or have the name of another company. This is a major faux-pas, which can be easily avoided. In addition, I have noticed that a lot of young applicants fear that their profiles on social networks might influence their future career negatively. At Summit, we do not attach great meaning to Facebook profiles because they are part of the individual's private space. However, we do consider negative or offensive comments about previous employers published on Twitter or Facebook unacceptable.
E&M: Besides a good salary check and interesting work activities, what else can attract a young applicant to apply for a job at your company?
Marleen Leconte: I believe that the energy sector is flourishing immensely in the context of an urgent need for efficient sustainability strategies, which match the very stringent European legislation. Therefore, the dynamics of this area might be very intriguing to young people who are often looking for new challenges and don't want to get bored of their monotonous daily routines. In addition to this more work-related factor, I think that the agreeable work atmosphere and the great personal contact which exists between our employees is definitely something that sets us apart. It is important that our employees perceive Summit more or less as a second family.
E&M: What was your first day at Summit like? How have you developed as a person and employee since this first day?
Marleen Leconte: My first day was many years ago at a Belgian company which was later acquired by Summit. I can still remember the positive stress which I was experiencing. It was a unique combination of eagerness, curiosity and a bit of fear of the unknown. Back then the "on-boarding" programs were not that well developed and I was just shown my desk. That's why later on in my work as a HR, I have tried to create a proper introduction programme for new employees in order to get them acquainted not only with their colleagues but also with the corporate values and culture.
E&M: Where can I find information about potential job openings or internships at Summit?
Marleen Leconte: This information is usually published on our website in the "Career" section. There is also a possibility to send an open application and your resume. Furthermore, we are constantly looking for interns to support our risk management, data management, and client energy management teams. It is also common for interns to continue working at Summit after completing their work-placements.
Photo: Kina Markova