Abdurahman Alsulaiman is an alumnus of the MSc&T in Energy Environment: Science Technology and Management from École Polytechnique.
Today, he is working at the EU delegation to the GCC with a focus on energy, climate, aerospace, trade, and economic cooperation between the EU and the GCC
(Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, and Qatar).
In this interview, Abdurahman talks about his experience at École Polytechnique, explains his career plan and gives you some advice.
Who are you?
My name is Abdurahman Alsulaiman, I come from Saudi Arabia and I had the honour of graduating - as valedictorian in 2019 - from the Master of Science and Technology in Energy Environment: Science Technology and Management.
I am now working on energy, climate, and investment cooperation, as part of the European Union Delegation to the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC Secretariat), the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the State of Qatar, the Sultanate of Oman, and the Kingdom of Bahrain.
Why did you choose Ecole Polytechnique to pursue your studies?
I chose to pursue my studies at l’X for 3 main reasons:
1. Ecole Polytechnique is a very prestigious school with a longstanding history of providing its students with high quality education.
2. I found the aspect of integrating working experience, through mandatory internships in the summer term very interesting.
3. The encompassing range of topics covered by the STEEM program, from the physics behind renewable energy generation to business and strategy.
What is your current position?
Most of the time, my role at the EU Delegation has been focused on the energy, climate and investment cooperation dimension with GCC region interlocutors.
As part of my role, I am also responsible for organising some of the high-level visits, from the EU to the region, prominent examples being, the visit of the EU Executive Vice President for the Green Deal and the visit of the EU Commissioner for Budget and Administration.
What did Ecole Polytechnique bring you?
The name of the school has helped me with a few firsts!
1. I am proud to be the first Saudi (who is not associated with the military) to have graduated from l’X.
2. The name of the school helped me find great places to do my internships in.
3. I am honoured to be the first Saudi to work with an EU Delegation, something for which studying at l’X surely helped, and something that I hope will open the door for other Saudi’s to step into, in the near future.
4. The education at l’X has provided me with a good starting point to start a PhD degree.
What skills did you gain during your MSc&T and have been using in your current position?
The Energy Environment: Science Technology and Management MSc&T helped me gain the necessary expertise and skills to do my part in pushing the conversation forward, within the domain of energy and environment.
The Scientific and technical knowledge that I learned at l’X for renewables and clean energy vectors, such as Hydrogen, have been especially beneficial, as I have been able to increase the scope of the conversation between the delegation and local stakeholders in the region.
What do you like the most about your job?
One of the most interesting benefits of working ‘in the field’ with a diplomatic mission, is the ability to meet with decision makers, be it government, research, industry, etc. Riding in a protocol vehicle with a Commissioner, Director-General, or a Cabinet head when they are coming for an official mission, that you helped organise, is an eye-opening experience that greatly helps in demystifying the glass ceiling behind the title.
Also, having the ability to sit with/in front of decision makers, be it ministers, Commissioners, deputy-ministers, etc. can be very intimidating at first. However and at the end of the day, you realize that – as impressive as these titles may sound – the people behind them are ‘just’ case study examples of success in qualification and work ethic.
What memories do you have of your time at l’X?
I have many great memories of my time at l’X. Of course, the best memories are those that I have with the life-long friends that I met during my studies. That being said, I am still unsure whether I miss the experience of going up and down the Lozère stairs but indeed, it is a very memorable memory, especially when it snows the night before!
What are your ambitions for the future?
My aim is to work where I can add the most value and for now, this means going and pursuing a PhD in the energy field, after my time at the Delegation is complete.
What advice would you give to future students?
Irrelevant to whether you’re interested in industry, research or academia, the earlier you apply and network to reach out to as many possible contacts as you can, the better. Also, unless you know exactly what you want, keep your prospects open and reach out to as many people as you can in the sector that you are interested in.
Leaving the best for last, and this is perhaps the best recommendation I could give, try to learn French. Even though the program is in English, many will assume that you speak French when you study in France, this is especially the case when studying at Ecole Polytechnique. It will also provide you with the added benefit of making your life easier in Palaiseau, Paris, and the rest of France. Moreover, it will add another valuable and important skill to your resume.