EPE’s Vice President of Energy Resources, Kalyan Chilukuri, recently reflected on the vital role that mentorship has played in his career. As a young engineer in the industry, Kalyan says he found himself working directly under the technical co-founder of the company he was with. “This was a turning point for me, as his leadership style was unlike anything I had expected,” he recollected.

Despite his esteemed position, the co-founder prioritized Kalyan’s technical and professional growth. “He didn’t use his title as a buffer,” Kalyan remembered. “Instead, he bridged the gap between us, emphasizing teamwork and collaborative growth. He instilled in me the belief that titles and hierarchies, while necessary for organizational structure, shouldn’t overshadow the primary objective: collectively advancing the industry that serves as the backbone of society.”

Kalyan says this mentorship taught him that nurturing and sharing knowledge with teammates is paramount in any leadership position. “Not only does this collaborative approach drive success and innovation, but it also fosters a culture of unity, growth, and shared accomplishment,” he continued. “His influence was profound. It taught me that leadership is less about authority and more about guidance, mentorship, and fostering an environment where everyone feels valued, heard, and motivated to contribute towards a shared vision.”

“It’s a lesson I’ve carried with me throughout my career, ensuring that as I guide others, we grow together in our collective journey,” he shared.

Values That Foster Teamwork

Of the five shared values upheld at EPE, Kalyan believes the one that echoes most profoundly with his personal and professional journey is “supporting each other towards excellence.” He defines this value as encapsulating the essence of what a team should aspire to be – a cohesive unit that uplifts each member to achieve their best. “At EPE, I’ve witnessed firsthand the immense potential that emerges when individuals are invested not just for their skills, but for their aspirations and growth,” Kalyan explained. “This philosophy isn’t merely about technical competencies; it’s about fostering an environment where every team member feels empowered, recognized, and inspired to strive for greater heights.”

“It’s an incredibly rewarding experience to be surrounded by colleagues who not only set high standards for their work but are also committed to ensuring those around them excel,” he continued. “This synergy – where we are not competing but collaborating, not pointing out flaws but paving paths for growth – is what differentiates a good team from a great one. This shared value underscores the importance of unity, mutual respect, and the relentless pursuit of excellence, and it’s a testament to the culture we’ve nurtured at EPE. It’s not just about individual achievement; it’s about growing together, celebrating each other’s successes, and collectively pushing the boundaries of what we can achieve.”

The Evolution of the Power Industry

Kalyan views the power industry as one that is in the midst of a transformative phase, perhaps more dynamic and fast-paced than any we’ve witnessed before. He believes the two predominant forces driving this shift are the rapid embrace of innovative technologies and the changing generation mix.

“From the power generation side, we’re witnessing a proactive approach to both maintaining current assets and planning for the future,” he stated. “Power generators are leveraging monitoring and analytics software to enhance the efficiency and longevity of existing infrastructures, while also exploring cutting-edge technologies for new projects. Particularly, the energy storage sector is brimming with innovation, holding promise for more sustainable and efficient energy solutions.”

Utilities, on the other hand, are leaning heavily into advanced metering, aiming to harness real-time data to optimize grid usage and enhance its reliability and resilience. “This shift not only aids in efficient power distribution but also supports our evolving consumer landscape,” Kalyan said.

End-users ranging from individual homeowners to large-scale industries, are also becoming active players in this transition. “The surge in power electronic devices, such as residential electric vehicles or industries leaning into electrification, is indicative of a broader shift towards a more sustainable and interconnected energy ecosystem,” he explained.

The final shift that Kalyan foresees having a massive impact on the industry is the changing generation mix, namely the move from conventional spinning mass generators to inverter-based generation. He anticipates this shift redefining grid operations, but says that it comes with inherent challenges related to inertia, system strength, congestion, and curtailment. “It’s prompting us to reimagine the fundamental principles of grid management, nudging us towards a paradigm where generation is more in sync with consumption patterns rather than the other way around.”

“For EPE to stay at the forefront of this evolution, our team needs to champion agility and adaptability,” he said. “Persistent learning, a proactive approach to technology, and aligning with our clients’ needs are paramount. As the industry’s contours change, so too must our skill sets. We should not only anticipate these shifts but actively shape them, ensuring that EPE remains an industry vanguard in this new era of energy. I am inspired by the willingness of EPE to invest in the learning and development of our team as way to ensure they are ready for the future.”

Words of Advice for the Future Generation of Engineers

Kalyan’s advice for young engineers entering the industry is straightforward yet impactful. He emphasizes the importance of prioritizing learning and exercising patience. “As you begin, select a company, a mentor, and a team that aligns with your values and aspirations. With the right environment, you can channel your energy towards enhancing your skills, contributing meaningfully, and enriching your team’s collective knowledge,” he encourages. “Trust that when you invest in your growth and demonstrate consistent value, recognition and rewards will naturally follow. Always remember, true career progression is a marathon, not a sprint. Think long-term, stay committed, and let time and experience shape your journey. Stay dedicated, keep pushing forward, and always try to be a better version of yourself than you were yesterday.”

Electric Power Engineers is highlighting our interns and colleagues as they lead and support the energy transition. Join us as we share how they #LeadWithEPE. If you are interested in being part of a dynamic team that supports leadership and growth opportunities, please visit our career page.