After a decade working on projects in the energy sector, Donald Kreiken wanted to explore a different role. We spoke to him about his switch into management consulting, and how his tenure at Magnus Energy is exposing him to critical work in Europe’s energy transition.
For the last seven years of his career, Donald Kreiken worked with TenneT, a major player in the energy grid sector. As a leading cross-border transmission systems operator (TSO), the group designs, builds, maintains and operates 25,000 kilometres of high-voltage connections in the Netherlands and large parts of Germany.
The company also facilitates the European energy market via 17 interconnectors with neighbouring countries.
Donald Kreiken, Senior Consultant at Magnus Energy
Amid the continent’s energy transition, this scale means TenneT has also had to undergo a series of dramatic transformations – which Kreiken witnessed and worked on first-hand. He worked on several major projects, including developing offshore grid concepts for offshore wind energy, and a pilot with blockchain technology for the use of home-batteries in Germany.
“After becoming involved in the strategy and transformation of TenneT, I wanted to contribute to the transformation more hands-on by working as a team lead in the one of the execution departments. Here I was concerned with planning and safely executing projects and maintenance in the high-voltage grid. In the context of the vastly growing investment portfolio, scaling all capabilities to execute maintenance and projects was the imminent challenge.”
The department he worked for played a central role in the expansion of net capacity, a much-needed development in light of the electrification of mobility and connections with off shore grid. Reflecting on his role, Kreiken said it taught him “a lot about leadership” and “how to manage people to focus on safety and operational excellence under pressure.”
“At some point, I learned that the European dimension of my work at TenneT fitted me most, working on regulatory aspects in an international environment and dealing with European institutions,” Kreiken recalls.
Early 2023, Kreiken felt it was time to pursue a different role in a more commercial environment. “I learned Magnus Energy was planning to expand its services and areas of expertise with topics such as decarbonisation and system flexibility.”
With offices in the Netherlands and Austria, Magnus Energy works on energy projects all over Europe, drawing on a team of international experts. The firm specialises drawing on a team of international experts. The firm specialises in complex program management, technical advisory, and business & technology consulting.
Kreiken describes himself as “an adventurer”, so moving on to a new place at this point in his career – and working with a new team – appealed to him.
Almost a year since his arrival, and he says the move has more than satisfied that ambition. “As soon as I joined Magnus Energy, I felt I was in the right place. Not just because Magnus Energy is working across Europe on super interesting projects, but mostly because I knew I was working with very talented individuals. The team covers all kinds of backgrounds and is really supportive.”
Supporting the energy transition
With a background in environmental economics, he is keen to do his part for the wellbeing of “our society and ecosystems”. Labelling himself on LinkedIn as an advocate of working towards “a more sustainable world”, working with Magnus Energy has helped him to accelerate this process in his own way.
Currently, he is proud to be leading several European projects related to market integration among TSOs – drawing on his experience with TenneT. In this capacity, he helps Magnus Energy to support groups of TSOs, and drive results that will bolster the energy transition.
“Improving collaboration across Europe and providing structure to complexity, we drive progress at European scale. For example, ensuring a complex IT project on capacity calculation is delivered timely and up to high standards greatly benefits the integration of renewables and reduces the need for fossil fuel generation. This way, our work underpins Europe’s net zero targets!”
“Closer to home,” Kreiken concludes, “I am chairing a technical working group in the Netherlands focused on next generation operational technology, which enables the further integration of solar and wind energy in medium and low voltage grids. Which is necessary to ease the problems our power grids face. Enabling more direct communication with solar and wind farms, to make optimal use of renewables. Making the most of our current, scarce, grid capacity is the way forward.”
The diverse activities he works on are pushing him to grow every day: “I feel challenged every day, knowing that everyone sets high expectations for themselves and others. Because what we do happens at national and European scale, our work has significant impact and helps progress the energy transition.”
Meanwhile, Kreiken says he is delighted with the guidance offered by supportive team members. “At Magnus Energy, I feel part of a very motivated and committed team that understands it can be little things that make the most – if not massive – impact. I truly appreciate the strong leadership team, fostering a culture of transparency and open feedback.”