Alumni in Focus: Michael Hickin

Michael Hickin

Marine and Project Manager at Renewables Grid Initiative in Berlin, Germany and Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Science graduate Michael Hickin is this month’s Alumni in Focus.

His current role brings together stakeholders from across Europe for constructive debates and planning for continent’s energy future. Michael previously worked in Melbourne for the Global CCS Institute where he advocated for the role of low-emissions fossil fuels.

What are your favourite hobbies?
Walking the streets of Berlin and stumbling across old historical relics. I’m also experimenting more and more with cooking regional and local cuisines from across Europe, which is great fun.

Favourite place to eat when in Adelaide?
Makis Yiros, Glenelg.

If I could go back to my University days I would…
Focus more during my earlier years, possibly more so on geology also. I’d also get more involved in the University clubs, there are great people in so many of them.

Most prized possession?
A number of old but in very good condition plates from a flea market in Berlin. I’m not sure where I developed this affection.

Something that makes you smile?
Chatting with my family back in Australia, cheesy but true.

Something you are grateful for?
Growing up in Australia, we really do have it very good back home and the weather can’t be beaten.

Also, the people I’ve met and/or worked with over the years. In my first position here in Germany, I worked with a young Lebanese immigrant to Germany. He explained that had he not come to Germany he mostly likely would’ve ended up in Hezbollah not by choice but by peer-pressure. He was a really genuine person and I was glad do have worked by his side.

If I could pursue a different career I would…
Either pursue an academic career in geology or work in the space sector. Both are still possibilities as it’s never too late to try anything, however the latter is more likely given my experience.

The most valuable lesson I have learned…
Work and study hard, it pays off, and know your role.

I cannot get through the day without…
Doing some exercise, even if it’s just walking.

Three words your closest friends would use to describe you?
Random, funny, level.

Your definition of success?
Meeting your own expectations, finding your passion and pursuing it. We really do only live once, so don’t try to do or be something that is defined by someone else for the purpose of fitting in. Take a step into the unknown.

My mother taught me…
To be independent and stand on my own two feet, and how to cook Bolognese.

Your career path in two sentences or less?
In Germany, working with the European Commission, European power grid operators, energy industry and NGOs on offshore grid initiatives and other energy transition topics (including energy storage).

In Australia, working towards decarbonisation of the global fossil energy sector (based in Melbourne) and supporting corporate strategy in the South Australian natural resources and environmental department.

Biggest career highlight?
Bringing European stakeholders together, including the European Commission, earlier this year to agree on a range of best-practice approaches for offshore grid deployment. This required reaching a consensus and eventual joint-agreement on varying strategic and operational practices, which was by no means a straightforward task. It was in the form of a “Marine Grid Declaration: and has been signed by representatives from many European countries. Its ultimate goal is to support offshore grid deployment, thereby ensuring we’re on track to meet ambitious climate targets.

How do you relax?
Music, movies, catching friends, cooking and long walks through the forests here in northern Germany.

When I get home the first thing I do is…
Look for and pat the cat.

The biggest risk you’ve taken?
In Melbourne, turning down a great job offer that would’ve ultimately led to long-term stability. Instead, I moved to Germany to try living and working here for a while. At first it was challenging and most positions needed you to speak German, but after a lot of hard work I managed to land a position in-line with my experience and interests.

I think choosing to venture overseas has paid off in terms of both professional and personal development. Facing challenges and unknowns in a foreign speaking country has enabled me to cope with life’s medial things.

A misconception about you?
I think some of my peers at high-school thought I’d end up in a different line of work. However, being interested in why we exist, the outdoors and international development has led me to where I am now.


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