Hometowns: Johannesburg, South Africa and London, England
Major: Economics and Environmental Studies
Mothibi Penn-Kekana '22 chose Dartmouth because it gave him the opportunity to study economics at a world-class institution — as well as to play soccer, a lifelong passion. While he didn't initially intend to focus on energy at Dartmouth, he says the topic was always front of mind for him because there were so many energy issues where he grew up in South Africa. So, when Mothibi took ENVS 12: Energy and the Environment with Professor Elizabeth Wilson, something clicked for him. He says, "It was like 'Woah! This is my favorite class at Dartmouth!'"
All In On Energy
His ENVS 12 experience spurred him to double major in environmental studies and economics, and he set out to learn more about the environment and environmental policy. In addition to taking courses in environmental studies and earth sciences, he served as a teaching assistant for Professor Wilson's ENVS 12 sections during the next two years.
Mothibi was also able to make a connection between energy and his work in economics. In fact, during his summer 2021 internship at Goldman Sachs, he says, "I was very explicit that I wanted to do something energy and economics related." He got an internship within the firm's natural resources group, where he had the opportunity to learn more about how big energy companies are financing the transition to sustainable energy.
As an intern, he says, "I figured out pretty quickly that although I know a fair amount of energy and economics, I need more practical experience. I wanted to go somewhere where I could get good training." He decided to accept an offer for a full-time job from Goldman Sachs' investment banking division and will be moving to London after graduation. The position will enable him to work with a range of clients from Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia— including some energy companies. He's looking forward to the job as an opportunity to gain that practical experience and perspective. "When you're a junior employee it's true a lot of what you're doing is what you're being told to do, you're not playing as active a role as I would like to one day. But it's also an opportunity to see a lot – you see a lot of really big companies, understand their business models, how they're responding to regulatory pressures."
As for his long-term goals, Mothibi envisions himself helping to tackle some of the big energy issues that he observed growing up in Johannesburg, either from the policy side or business side of things. "South Africans need access to electricity," he says. "Right now the economics of Eskom [South Africa's state-owned energy provider] doesn't work, and attacking that problem seems really interesting. Energy access is one of South Africa's greatest challenges – one which I hope to help overcome."