I recently received ta mail from colleague asking for some technical advise. I have changed the names to keep the privacy of the sender. The email read as below;
Hi Chris,
My name is Felix, a former Kenyatta University Energy Engineering graduate. I currently work with Skylux Energy Limited in the Sustainable Energy Division. Since completing school back in 2010, i have worked in the sales department mostly in the energy sector with an exception of construction equipment sales at a Construction company Kenya.
 I am writing this mail to seek your advice on how i can improve my skills and thereafter my career/ enterprise options. I feel that i have not achieved what i sought after school as most of the jobs(that i know) in the renewable energy sector in Kenya are in Sales. I feel like i would do more in research and product development (still in the renewable energy sector). It is for this reason that i seek your advice on how i can achieve my
career goal of ensuring that we all live in a green sustainable world. I have just sent a request to be in your network at LInkedln.
My Response
Hi Collins,
Thanks for your mail and connection on LinkedIn. I do face the same challenges you are facing in the energy industry. Most jobs available involve sales and marketing. I otherwise learned that we can look at it in a different way. Technical sales is actually the best job an engineer can have if you intend to make an impact to users of your products.
Selling is one area that allows you to interact with the user/customer of the product in a unique way. You are always learning what the user wants in a product.  I therefore think its the best way to get into research as you are ultimately making products or services that will help the user/customer. Personally before I ventured into energy auditing, I used to work in a technical sales company where I could sell energy auditing training courses and energy audits. This gave me an opportunity to learn the energy efficiency business and find ways in which I could add value to companies by reducing their energy bills. I nowadays I do energy audits for my clients. I still do sales to get more business and more importantly, to find out exactly what my client needs. From selling, I can be able to customize my service to suit the client’s needs.
My advise would be that you maximize your work as a technical sales person. Use that experience as a research work to find out what customers really want and what you can do to improve their experience with the products you are giving them. Listen keenly to what the client wants and find ways in which you can help improve their user experience. That in itself is research work. That in itself will make you grow in leaps and bounds in your career.
Also find out what exact field in renewable energy you are more passionate about. Is it Solar? Is it Biogas?  Is it wind, geothermal?Whatever….the energy field is so wide and you need to at least focus in one or two areas you are most passionate about. Focus helps you to make a bigger impact with your work.
Whatever you do, do it with all your heart….Collosians 3.23
best regards,
Chris Mbori