Madeline Norgaard

Major: Environmental Studies

Year of Graduation: 2015

Graduate School/Location: Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN


Current Position/Location: Business Development Engineer, Mortenson, Minneapolis MN


Please give a brief description of your current position.

Mortenson is well known as a builder of sports stadiums, but many people don't know that Mortenson has installed nearly 25% of the wind energy throughout the United States. As a business development engineer for our wind energy group, I help the team win new projects. Most importantly, my job entails building and maintaining relationships with our customers to understand their goals and priorities. Because it takes several years to develop a wind project, we often work with customers over a long period of time to help them understand construction costs and overcome potential construction challenges. I also utilize my policy background by closely following market and policy trends to help our team anticipate fluctuations and growth opportunities in the industry, which in turn impacts our business strategy. 


What path did you follow to get to your current position?

Putting my thesis into action, I briefly interned at a non-profit called Honor the Earth as an outreach coordinator. I educated citizens about the threat of the Sandpiper oil pipeline on the quality of lakes and wild rice in northern Minnesota. Following my interest in energy, I became a MN GreenCorps member where I spent a year at the Great Plains Institute, a non-profit focused on accelerating the transition to a clean energy future. I worked with local governments on energy efficiency programs. After GC, it seemed like a good time to pursue my master’s in public policy, during which time I interned with the Sustainable Growth Coalition made up of Minnesota companies pursuing ambitious sustainability goals. This experience opened my eyes to the power of the private sector in affecting change at a large scale. I always had a desire to work in the renewables industry, so when a fellow Johnnie told me about an open position at Mortenson I ran at the opportunity.


What advice/suggestions would you have for students who might be interested in your career?

It's never too early to start building your network. Tap into alumni groups, especially the CSB/SJU renewable energy happy hour group. Ask people to coffee or phone chats. There are many ways to pursue a career in energy. Getting to know alumni and building your network will help you understand the range of career opportunities available to you. MN GreenCorps is a great place to simply try out an environmental career over a limited period, while expanding your network and having a great support system! The energy field is always changing, so it is important to have trusted advisors and mentors to help you navigate your journey. 


What skills are important in your field?

Of course, people and communication skills are vital in business development. To be successful in the energy field broadly, it’s good to have a curious mind and an affinity for problem solving and working collaboratively. 


What is the most satisfying/rewarding part of your position?

Knowing that the projects we win are directly supporting hundreds of high-quality jobs for people across the country. 


Most challenging?

Being patient and trusting that my efforts will pay off in the end. 


What activities/experiences were helpful at CSB/SJU (and elsewhere) in preparation for this career?

I participated and took on leadership roles in a variety of clubs. Clubs are great for gaining experience managing projects, working with others, and finding your voice. 


(June 2019)