Duke Professor on New Energy-Finance MBA Program

In September, Duke’s Fuqua School of Business became the first top ten business school in the United States to offer a concentration in energy finance.

Faculty Dean Jim Anton, professor of managerial economics, says changes in the energy markets led to the need for a more in-depth focus on energy finance.

“In particular, what we’ve been seeing in the U.S. for the past few years with natural gas and petroleum, and as the U.S. becomes a net exporter thanks to fracking technologies taking root, the energy infrastructure needs energy financing,” says Anton.

He says projects involving drilling, refineries, pipelines and liquefied natural gas facilities are very complex and can last decades in some cases. Not to mention, they also are incredibly expensive and risky.

“The financing – finding the money to get these projects off the ground – is beyond the scope of any single entity, whether it might be a state government, federal government or private firm, so we often see syndication,” says Anton. He says students will be required to do a capstone project that deals with both the energy issues in the field as well as real-world policy challenges.

He says a demand for jobs in the sector has also led to an increased interest on the part of the student body. Graduates, says Anton, will be prepared to work in investment banking, consulting firms and government agencies.

“It’s been an interest of the school for several years,” says Anton, though development for the new concentration began just last spring. Anton says the school hasn’t needed to make any new hires; upon digging further, coordinators realized that existing faculty members had the background necessary for the concentration’s goals.

“We do have the resources – they just needed to be redeployed,” says Anton, citing one professor who worked for two years in the energy division at JPMorgan Chase.

Though the program is very new, Anton says interest is already running high. He expects just over 10% of the student body at Fuqua will take part in the energy concentration.