Alejandro Concha Romero discovered that knowledge is more than a matter of technical skills. His original plan of becoming a technician evolved into a role that forms an important bridge between technology, innovation and financial interests.
Alejandro was a small child living in Chile the first time he heard about Sweden. His father often invited Swedish engineers, colleagues working at the pulp mill, to their home. Maybe hearing that strange language and seeing pictures from the country started a process in Alejandro. Anyway, later on in his career, a special concern for environmental issues pointed towards Sweden.
“I asked myself, which developed countries have had environmental problems within their industry and solved them? The answer was that Sweden is one of the leading countries in the area. The only thing I knew about Chalmers was that the Nobel Prize winner Gustaf Dahén studied and worked here. And thanks to my father’s colleagues, I also knew that it is a very good technical university.”Widened opportunities
In Chile, Alejandro’s earlier studies were within forestry industry engineering. He saw the master’s programme at Chalmers as a source of knowledge for future goals. It turned out to be even more than that. The possibility to work in another country, in another language, slowly emerged.
“You have options when you go to Chalmers, but more opportunities than you can possibly imagine will present themselves. It is important that you are willing to reconsider your life goals.”
And the Alejandro that left Chile was another person when he returned. He was less introverted, with less stiff traditional views and with more confidence. The teachers’ attitudes helped him a lot.
“I was very concerned about the English language in the beginning. I did not pass the first exam and was very disappointed, but the teacher told me that they evaluate my knowledge, not my language. He also gave me an opportunity to do an oral exam. I think they were always ready to support and encourage me.” Turning back
At first, his thought was to go back to Chile, but the new options made this seem like a less obvious choice. After some serious contemplation, however, Alejandro decided to shape his future platform in Chile after all. And with his education from Chalmers, it was a very different job situation.
“Then, I got a very good position three weeks after I came back at one of the best companies in the forest industry.”
After returning, he became aware of his learning outcome – a lot of the techniques he learned can be applied in other places. But he also realised that he had learned something else – the importance of showing not only how the technical solution benefits society and the environment, but also what its financial benefit is. For that, it takes something more than technical skills.
“When I came to Chalmers, I did not see this as my mission. My idea was to be a good technician. But back in Chile they saw me as a person who can do more. I had international experience and could speak with people from abroad. I was also able to manage, lead and make things happen. “
Alejandro now acts as a bridge between technicians and businessmen. He never works with the techniques, but needs the technical knowledge. This valuable position has been his platform ever since.
“I like it, but it is really a challenge! To sell the ideas, technology or products to upper management, you have to speak their language. Otherwise, the ideas will never see the light of day.”Next step
To further strengthen his ability to be the catalyst of technology transfer, Alejandro applied for and was awarded the Rune Andersson Scholarship at Chalmers 2011. This will help him to take the next step in his training process, an MBA at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT, USA. Once again a new personal goal has been set.
“I would like to lead international projects within the clean energy area, between international companies or between countries. That is what I really would like to do. But I will be open to all possibilities that the studies at MIT can offer to my future career.”
Alejandro graduated from the “Environmental Applied Environmental Measurement Techniques” master’s programme at Chalmers in 2005. Since then, he has established several cooperation initiatives between Chilean and Scandinavian companies. He currently works as a senior engineer in business development at the Chilean company RESITER, within renewable energy projects, and at his consultancy company BIORENOVA.