Interview with Marta Walendzewicz

The Academy is not just a pathway for career development, but also an opportunity to establish lifelong connections. Menlo Electric is probably the first company to have been founded by two alumni of the Foundation's programs.

Marta Płowiec, Paga Foundation (MP): Marta, as an alumna of the Energy Academy and co-founder of Menlo Electric, where you also serve as CFO, you’re a great example for the youngest members of our community. But let’s start from the beginning. How did your career in the energy sector begin?

Marta Walendzewicz: I first encountered the sector as a participant in the 3rd edition of the Energy Academy organized by the Lesław A. Paga Foundation. This program brings together ambitious individuals aiming for a professional future in the energy sector. The Academy offers participants the chance to learn from industry practitioners across various fields. After completing the program, participants have the opportunity for a paid internship in one of the partner companies. This experience directed my focus towards energy.

MP: What made you decide to join the Energy Academy?

Marta: A friend, an alumnus of a previous edition, told me about the program. Since the energy sector seemed very interesting and influential in the economy, I applied and went through a recruitment process that included a skills test and an initial interview. This selection ensures that people genuinely interested in the energy sector, ambitious and eager to develop and network, join the program.

MP: What’s the essence of the Energy Academy? How did the program significantly influence your career?

Marta: The program unites talented students and graduates who want to grow in the energy sector and understand that business is based on good relationships and commitment. The Academy provides practical, condensed knowledge under the idea of creating a community for development, inspiration, and education of tomorrow’s leaders. Since its participants come from diverse backgrounds – from lawyers to engineers – knowledge exchange happens not only between lecturers and participants but also among the members of the program.

MP: Can you describe the practical aspect of the Energy Academy?

Marta: The program consists of workshops, meetings with energy industry leaders, discussions with instructors and participants, and finally, internships in partner companies. Over two months, participants meet with the most interesting personalities in the sector, learn about energy services, new technologies, and soft skills. This equips them with the competencies necessary to succeed in this industry.

MP: So, there’s an opportunity for interested individuals as the Energy Academy is organizing its 11th edition this year.

Marta: Correct. This year’s Academy, for which enrollment is open until June 14, will focus on future solutions under the theme “Will We Run Out of Energy? On Energy Security in the Age of Transformation.”

MP: Meetings with business and energy industry leaders undoubtedly result in many business relationships and friendships, right?

Marta: Definitely, the Academy isn’t just a career development perspective but also an opportunity to form lifelong contacts. Menlo Electric is probably the first company founded by two alumni of the Foundation’s programs. I met Bartek Majewski, the other co-founder of Menlo, during one of the Paga Foundation’s events.

MP: Currently, Menlo Electric is one of Europe’s fastest-growing photovoltaic distributors. How did you achieve this?

Marta: Many factors contributed to our development. Quickly building a cohesive team of ambitious professionals was crucial. We’ve always focused on forming lasting relationships with industry leaders. We strive to be the best in what we do, hence partnering with the best. Today, we are among the top 5 distributors in Europe for global leaders in photovoltaic module production, like Jinko Solar and Risen Energy. That’s why we partnered with mBank and KUKE for financing. We started in 2020, and this year we have already exceeded 600 million in revenue.

MP: Menlo Electric is a Polish company operating on an international scale. Was this your strategy from the beginning?

Marta: When establishing Menlo Electric, we knew we wanted to build a company with at least a European scope. This determined the profile of people we recruited and how we built our sales network and logistics. Currently, we sell photovoltaic components in 20 European markets, with over 70% of our revenue coming from outside Poland. We serve customers from 7 logistics centers from Valencia and Rotterdam to Gdańsk and Piraeus. We are also expanding beyond Europe – in May, we made our first deliveries to Lebanon.

MP: For the first time, Menlo Electric is one of the partners of the Energy Academy. What will your involvement in the program be?

Marta: As part of this year’s Academy, we will conduct workshops and gladly invite graduates to intern at our company. Menlo Electric is one of the fastest-growing photovoltaic distributors in Europe, offering graduates a chance to develop in a dynamic, international environment – a great start to a professional career.

MP: Finally, tell us, what values guide you in your professional life?

Marta: I am motivated by the opportunity to create something new and work with a group of motivated people. As a co-founder of Menlo, I had the unique chance to build a company from scratch. Building our finance team, comprising both experienced and newly starting professionals, was immensely satisfying. It’s important to me that I’m creating a company that contributes to the energy transformation, not just in our country but as a regional leader.

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