Executive MBA Alumni ITW : Free Lance Project Manager - E&P Hydrogen Liquefaction


Philippe OKALLA, can you tell us more about yourself and your background?
I am currently a free-lance consultant, commuting between Marseille where I used to stay and the Paris area where some of my clients are based. From a master’s degree in chemical engineering, I have gone through a career in Energy Industry, initially for oil & gas companies for more than 15 years, up to now for energy transition and more specifically for the hydrogen industry. I have covered a wide range of positions in the energy industry starting with technical positions, then project management contracts, and commercial management through a permanent position as staff, and now working for my own consulting firm Afhynium.

What brought you to KEDGE Global Executive MBA?
KEDGE EMBA brought me different soft and hard capabilities. Through KEDGE EMBA, I have met peers with rich and wide backgrounds from which I have learnt a lot besides the course and experience brought by Lecturers. I am still in contact today with some peers with business and/or friendship relationships. 
Through workshops, I have also learnt more about myself:  how to take the most from my strong capabilities; how to deal with what I am less comfortable with, and which is required to reach my objective, and of course this has impacts not only on my professional life but also on my personal life, as I have more confidence to make and stick to my choices. 
Also my Executive MBA brought me tools and methods to anticipate, analyse, deal and take advantage of complex situations again in my professional and personal life. I have also strengthened my technical background with more commercial and business capabilities. Last but not Least, I had good learning and fun times with peers, e.g. in Shanghai.

What have you been up to since you ended the programme?
Straight after the end of the programme, after the most important Covid lockdown in 2020, and following a tip shared by an EMBA mate, I have worked remotely for an Australian start-up, starting as a Business Development Manager, then as Head of the Business Development Department to expand the start-up blockchain based technology. 
It targets supply chain digitization of illiterate farmers in developing countries. All was new to me: the position, the industry, the product/service, but I succeeded in performing well in the short term which led me to be promoted amongst colleagues with more experience in the business. 
I then left for consultancy in commercial aspects of energy transition through Hydrogen and started my own consultancy company Afhynium. I am doing consultancy today for a major global player of hydrogen, dealing with daily tactics and strategy to manage the commercial execution of an hydrogen development program in South Korea. Once again, the EMBA helped me to quickly be efficient and effective to maintain and develop the financial results, while anticipating and managing risk and opportunities.

How did the EMBA help you with your career?
The EMBA helped me to test and dare with more confidence as it is supported by good analytical capability. It has also helped me to connect to other competencies.  The EMBA strengthened and developed my curiosity and my resilience. As a matter of fact, I more easily went through my career transition with this programme: deciding to leave, being promoted, getting new contracts for my company.
It helped me think differently with respect to sustainability.  I illustrated it in my EMBA capstone project, that was based on a platform project to lengthen shelf life of equipment by transferring used and refurbished equipment from developed nations to developing countries, where such equipment can be shared on other platforms to support informal sector entrepreneurs to be trained, start and develop their business.

Can you share a new business trend that currently fascinates you?
Currently I am really fascinated by energy transitions through hydrogen.  There is all the common and historic use of hydrogen which goes through a transformation to become more sustainable. 
The overall challenge is not easy on the renewable path as the remaining value chain is mastered and mature. What will be interesting to follow will be business models innovations around building and organizing the demand for a different use, as mobility, and new relations between production and distribution. 
Some business frame as decentralization, clusters that were common at the beginning of the century will be the most relevant to implement. Considering clusters and decentralization is considering platforms, collaboration, mutualization which will change the relationships within the ecosystem and its stakeholders. Hopefully, companies in this ecosystem will not seek competition for the sake of competing but will share resources and make efforts to bring more added value to customers.