“The contribution that a business developer should ensure for the company they work for, and more broadly, can bring to the implementation of the energy transition, is to develop projects with high performance and innovation standards from an increasingly comprehensive perspective”


For the EF People column, we interviewed Alexandra Papalexopoulou, senior business development manager of EF Solare Italia, who talked about the increasingly importance of her role in the development of renewables.


The renewable energy sector is experiencing a strong expansion. How can the role of a business developer support a company in its growth and contribute to the energy transition?

In the photovoltaic sector, and also at EF Solare, we are experiencing a phase of significant growth, making it crucial to promote initiatives characterized by increasingly higher performance standards. This refers not only to technical and economic efficiency parameters but also, increasingly, to environmental, social, and inclusive performance concerning the communities affected by the project. I also believe that the sector has a responsibility in terms of innovation and its dissemination. Therefore, each project should be approached by the business developer with a strong focus on innovating every aspect, including its structure or relationships with involved entities.

The contribution that a business developer should ensure for the company they work for, and more broadly, can bring to the implementation of the energy transition, is to develop projects with high performance and innovation standards from an increasingly comprehensive perspective. Currently, I’m facing the challenging growth objectives outlined in the company’s industrial plan, which also require innovation capabilities. A significant portion of these objectives involves the development and detailed implementation of “advanced” agrivoltaic projects we are committed to.


Due to the “race for renewables” to achieve the 2030 goals, the role of a business developer is increasingly in demand. What are the main characteristics, knowledge, and experiences you recommend for

those who want to pursue this career?

A business developer must possess strong interpersonal skills to engage and manage diverse stakeholders who play decisive roles in project development. They need analytical skills accompanied by a forwa

rd-looking vision and a team-oriented attitude, crucial for tackling interdisciplinary projects. An attentive understanding and critical reading ability of regulations, along with continuous updates, are fundamental. In my experience, it’s strategic to understand the crucial aspects inherent in project evolution, even in stages beyond development. There are also specific specialized skills, easily acquired through experience with a scientific background.


What are the ongoing changes in the role of business developers? How does technology impact this?

As the sector moves towards operating under market parity conditions, competence and sensitivity regarding project valuation aspects will become increasingly relevant, even indirectly, including various implementation methods affecting investment determination. Currently, it’s crucial to interact with regulations and their principles, given the recent phase of regulatory evolution and significant technological advancements. Familiarity with tools provided by digital transformation has become indispensable, reforming databases, interaction portals with administrations, and operational methods. For instance, the submission and deposition of authorization requests, once a time-consuming ritual, are now efficiently conducted through digital platforms.


What have been the fundamental stages for your professional development?

Experiencing the intense phases of development, initially perhaps pioneering, and the rapid and total disengagement that occurred in Italy between 2003 and 2012 was fundamental. This experience was crucial as it was lived in constantly transforming corporate environments and highly structured contexts. Collaborating with professionals in international and multidisciplinary settings while interacting with all corporate departments was also important.


Like other sectors, the energy sector still has a gender gap. What advice would you give to women who want to enter this field?

Historically, the energy sector has been characterized by a significant gender gap. A moment of change occurred with the market liberalization, gradually leading to the emergence of crucial female managers in leading sector companies. However, this journey is far from complete, and achieving it will require continued effort and innovation from everyone. Closing the gender gap would benefit the sector, given its ambitious growth objectives. With organizational skills, multitasking abilities, determination, focus, and most importantly, the inclusive approach that only the female world can provide, greater female presence could be decisive in achieving these objectives. I would advise those starting their careers in business development and energy to focus on enhancing these abilities rather than replicating models typically associated with the male-dominated world, which often fail to make a real difference.

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