The MIT Sloan School of Management's Master of Science in Management Studies (MSMS) program is in just its second year, but it’s already attracting high-caliber students such as Damian Kasprzyk.
Kasprzyk, who started the Energy Club at HEC Paris — a collaborating school — last year, has a BA in political science and economics from Fordham University. During his undergraduate studies Kasprzyk worked at such places as the European Parliament, the United Nations and the office of then-U.S. Sen. Hillary R. Clinton. Although he briefly considered a career in law while working as a corporate paralegal for Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP in New York, he decided a business degree was more appealing. He targeted schools that offered dual degrees, and chose HEC Paris because of its relationship with MIT Sloan. Specifically the MSMS program offers a customizable, advanced master’s degree for students at business schools abroad.
“When I was looking at schools, I knew I wanted a different MBA experience and [MSMS] combines an excellent education in Europe and an excellent education in the United States,” he said. Born in Lezajsk, Poland, Kasprzyk has lived in the United States, Belgium, and France over the past 10 years, but hasn’t ruled out returning to Poland some day. HEC Paris is widely respected overseas and an MIT education is also renowned worldwide. “MIT is one of the most prestigious schools in the world,” he said.
He entered HEC in 2009, where he took his core classes and completed a specialized track in energy finance. The track, which comprised about 100 hours of classroom time, was mostly taught by bankers. Kasprzyk, who has long been interested in energy, was even more inspired because he had never thought about energy from a finance perspective. Since he has focused on energy for so long, his plans to start an Energy Club at HEC were in the works before he even stepped on the campus. “One thing that I put in my essays to HEC was that I wanted to create an energy club, because none existed there,” he said. “A few months prior, I had already done an informal survey amongst my future classmates as to who would be interested in joining the club and helping me lead it. The response was very encouraging,” Kasprzyk remembered.
Kasprzyk knew that creating an Energy Club would provide a valuable outreach program with alumni and with energy companies themselves. “We had two goals in establishing the Energy Club. One was to educate the club members on the vast complexities of the energy field. A lot of us had not worked in energy before. This was a good way to learn more about the field, major players, and the skills needed. Goal number two was to facilitate interaction between students and leading energy companies and assist with career exploration through networking events and workshops,” he said.
Once he had support from his classmates, Kasprzyk had to convince HEC MBA Associate Dean Valérie Gauthier that the club would be worthwhile. The dean’s main concern was that since the MBA class is relatively small, interest might wane once Kasprzyk graduated from the program. But, after providing some evidence that the club would thrive no matter who was in charge, and asking faculty members to lobby on his behalf, Kasprzyk was able to officially form the club in January 2010. “It has become one of the most active and popular clubs on the campus,” he said. Open to all HEC students, it now has about 180 members. Kasprzyk is quick to give credit to his fellow classmate, Danil Knyazev, for helping to create the club, and to two professors, Antoine Hyafil and Jean-Michel Gauthier, who are co-chairs of the Energy & Finance Certificate at HEC Paris.
The club has already hosted many events, including open discussions on energy consulting, the future of energy and an event with a vice president from Total S.A., a French energy company.
Although he is now finishing up his degree here at MIT Sloan, Kasprzyk is still closely connected to the club he helped found. And he has joined the Sloan Energy & Environment Club, the Sloan Finance Club, and the MIT Energy Club. He plans to get involved in organizing the MIT Energy Conference next March. He is excited to be here at MIT Sloan, and impressed with the number of activities on campus. While here, he is focused exclusively on finance electives and is enjoying Finance Theory II (15.402) with Professor Nittai Bergman. “There is a lot of group work in it, and I feel like I’m learning a lot,” Kasprzyk said.
Kasprzyk is working on establishing a concrete thesis topic, which he said will probably involve financial speculation in crude oil markets. He is “fascinated” by the energy field. He added, “There are so many different components that come into play. You have geopolitics, economics, finance and all of these social factors. I feel like it’s the most important field of all. If we didn’t have energy, we wouldn’t be here as a civilization.”