Joe Andronaco’s, WG’01, job at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Loan Programs Office (LPO) is “the culmination” of all of his work experiences and Wharton education. “My job as senior advisor combines everything that I learned in the EMBA program with my past work and passion for energy efficiency to make an impact on the national level,” he said.
His goal at the DOE is to help the U.S. meet two important deadlines: to significantly decrease global warming by 2030 per the Paris Agreement and to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.
“The DOE has $46 billion in loan guarantees to support innovative companies that within the next 20 to 30 years will contribute to a reduction in greenhouse gases to get to a net zero society. I want to find those companies and invest in them,” explained Joe.
Part of his plan involves engaging the Wharton community. “Wharton develops leaders who want to solve the world’s problems. We want to address issues at a societal scale, whether it’s racial justice or planetary challenges. Many people in this community are working on the next big idea.”
So far, he is off to a great start, connecting with faculty, alumni, and research centers across Penn. “The university has leaders in research, access to equity, emerging technology, cutting-edge innovations, and interesting solutions. I’m excited to be part of this community.”
Discovering a Passion for Energy
Joe did not start out in the energy space. Born in Venezuela, he spent much of his childhood in Caracus before his family moved to Miami, FL for better opportunities. At the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, he majored in history before starting a career in investment banking.
“My first job after college was at Lehman Brothers and then I worked for Buenos Aires Capital Partners in Argentina, where I was exposed to energy projects. The country was privatizing utilities and I worked on the sale of a hydroelectric company,” he recalled.
After several years, Joe decided to move back to the U.S. and joined WGL Holdings Inc., where his career in the energy sector took off. From that point on, he focused on his passion for the environment and efficiency.
Deciding to Get an MBA
With a successful career in the energy sector, Joe didn’t think he needed an MBA. However, his mindset began to change when his partner at the time suggested going back to school. “He told me, ‘You don’t know what you don’t know,’ and he was right. It was precisely at that time in my life that I needed to grow,” said Joe.
He explained, “I had begun working in the chairman’s office at WGL Holdings to help guide the strategic direction of the company and realized that I needed different perspectives from my own. I needed to be more open minded about what I don’t know. That’s when I started researching EMBA programs.”
In the end, Joe only applied to Wharton. “I was 10 years into my career, and I wanted the best program, which was Wharton. I’m so glad I made that decision because it changed my life.”
He recalled, “On the first day of school, I sat in the auditorium with 100+ classmates and we all shared who we are and what brought us to Wharton. I heard from students with mind-blowing accomplishments. I realized that I was part of something special and much bigger than myself. That was the start of a transformational two-year experience.”
How Wharton is Adding Value
After graduation, Joe joined forces with an entrepreneur and became president of USA Technology Services, which grew from $500,000 to $11.2 million in revenues within five years. Partnering with energy service companies, he worked on major projects with BWI Airport, Maryland Transit Authority, Prince George’s County Schools, and Gallaudet University.
He then started his own company called Access Green, which focused on energy conservation and the creation of impactful career-pathways for returning citizens, individuals with disabilities, and persons in recovery.
“In addition to my passion for efficiency, I also care deeply about creating meaningful pathways for underserved people. I want to make a better planet and better lives for everyone,” he said.
This past spring, one of his mentors was named a director at the DOE and Joe jumped at the opportunity to make a bigger impact and came on board as a senior advisor.
Joe pointed to several aspects of Wharton’s EMBA program that are continuing to add value, even 20 years later:
“Wharton gave me the confidence to step into this next stage of my career. I know I have the education, tools, and mindset to work on the national stage and help meet extremely ambitious environmental deadlines.”
“I still think about learnings from many of my Wharton classes. For example, I did two independent study projects with a finance professor, I learned about emotional intelligence and executive skills in leadership classes, and I did a risk profile for a utility moving toward deregulation. That unique mixture of classes prepared me to help solve the problem of climate change.”
“I’m tapping into the Wharton network to develop a web of contacts with leaders throughout the Penn community. I am fortunate to have access to the best and brightest people in the energy field.”
Joe added, “This program was worth it, and I would do it all over again if given the chance. It gave me the breadth and depth of education across multiple disciplines to go beyond business as usual to address important societal issues.”
-By Meghan Laska
Posted: July 5, 2021