27
Apr

Manuel Weissenegger
Master in International Relations student
From: Bressanone, Italy

All my life I have been different. Raised by a single mother in a Catholic area in the very north of Italy, my family background certainly set me apart. At a very young age, I was forced to question the traditions that surrounded me. Moreover, having grown up in a German speaking area of Italy, I have always been aware of my distinct cultural heritage, one that transcends the conventional boundaries of the nation-state. Because of these circumstances, I have always felt the desire to find my place in the world.

Aware of the competitiveness of global careers, I worked hard and graduated with honors in law and was offered a job as a lawyer-trainee at one of the most prestigious law firms in Bologna. As honored as I was when I accepted the job offer, something inside me questioned whether this traditional path was really my course to follow. Despite countless hours of hard work on interesting cases, a competitive salary, and career advancement opportunities, the calling for something more grew stronger. During work breaks I caught myself researching master’s programs in international relations, which I believed to be a perfect fit for my international ambitions. I caught myself dreaming of new adventures. I wanted more.

At IE I found more. I encountered an endless pool of people – students, professors and staff – that work hard to leave their imprint on this world. I met people that question traditional approaches as much as they value them provided they serve the greater goal of moving human development forward. I found a graduate school of international relations that wants to change the world in the business setting, the real driver for advancement in our era.

All these factors made me find my place at IE. As someone who deeply cares about finding a sustainable way of ‘fueling’ our economies, I became the president of the IE Energy Club. It was my goal to show why changing energy usages – which constitute the biggest chunk in CO2 emissions – is difficult. With the panel discussions we organized, we tried to demonstrate that energy, far from being merely a question of innovation, is a rather political matter. Climate change and clean energy depend to a large extent on the will of world leaders to move important projects forward. However, political leaders themselves depend on their constituencies. Constituencies, by turn, have their own preferences, largely dependent geographic, economic and historical factors: moving the American Rust Belt away from coal is difficult because coal has historically shaped the economies of the region. In this context, the legacy I tried to leave is that it is imperative for all of us to understand the political dynamics behind climate change and clean energy. Only if we fathom why people might favor political leaders who oppose clean energy efforts, can we find solutions that can change our future to the better.

Bio: Manuel Weissenegger was born in Italy on 20 May 1989. After graduating with honors in law at the University of Bologna, he worked for 1.5 years at Maffei-Alberti, a prestigious law firm located in Bologna, Italy, that deals with bankruptcy and business law. Simultaneously he was engaged as teaching assistant to Professor Vincenzo Calandra-Buonaura, professor of business law at the University of Bologna. Manuel is currently a Master in International Relations candidate at IE Business School where he will graduate in July 2017. Besides Italy and Spain, he also has academic experience in Switzerland and the United States. He speaks four languages (German, Italian, English and Spanish).

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