At what point in your career did you join Castalia?
Two years after undergrad, and time spent doing social work and working on political campaigns, I realized I wanted to apply my economics degree. I met with one of the directors at Castalia, who described the work the firm does, and I realized it could be a really nice fit. I wanted to do work that makes a tangible difference in people’s lives, and I liked the idea of being able to do so on a macro level. Castalia fit that well because the assignments they do affects policy and reorganizes entire sectors – focused on providing better and lower-cost power and water to people.
Can you tell me about your career at Castalia?
I was appointed as an intern, with the understanding that it would be for a few months. I thought it was a great opportunity to check out the firm, experience the work, and see if the fit was right. After a few great months on the job and a full interview process, I was offered an analyst position. Over 4 years I was promoted twice more and left as a manager in the Latin American and Caribbean Practice, focused on power and water sector work. However, I was able to work across sectors and geographies with different practice leaders. A highlight was joining the Australian practice for 3 months, spending a large chunk of that time in the Philippines working with the national Department of Transportation.
What was your favorite project to work on?
There are many, but perhaps my favorites were those where we got to help reorganize the electricity sectors in Bermuda and the Bahamas. For me, helping lay the foundations for fundamentally new policy directions at a national level was tremendous. In both countries, we helped set up new or entirely new electricity regulatory authorities. In the Bahamas, we trained staff on electricity sector regulation and helped them think about renewables for the first time. In Bermuda, I was part of a great Castalia team that started by drafting an electricity policy, then an electricity law that passed Parliament, and then the first regulations that allowed large-scale renewable energy. Based on those regulations, a Castalia team then helped Bermuda contract for its first large-scale solar project.
What type of employee will excel at Castalia?
You need to be smart and have a good foundation in economics and writing. You’ll have to learn quickly and be interested in the subject matter so that you really dive into it. If you like the subject matter and applying it to policy and business problems, you’ll enjoy doing the work.
What were your biggest takeaways?
At Castalia you really do everything, even as an analyst and senior analyst. There are opportunities for growth not only in the content of the work, but also in contributing to the operations of the firm. I was very quickly given the autonomy to manage projects (and take responsibility for their profitability), lead proposals, and negotiate contracts with partners around the world.
In my current position with Transdev, an international public transportation operator, I was given responsibility for managing the technical proposal for a contract worth about US$80 million annually. We were successfull in that bid, and I attribute much of that success to the skills and experience I gained with Castalia.
Is there anything you miss about Castalia?
The people. But fortunately I’ve been able to maintain contact with them. It’s a small firm and there’s a real sense of camaraderie. I miss working with those people not just on our consulting assignments, but on some of the day-to-day business aspects for the firm (one year, I helped work through health care plan options that would be offered to staff, for example).