Petar Georgiev (’16) on winning the EV Under 30 Star in The Electric Vehicle Innovation & Excellence Awards 2021
Petar Georgiev is a Bulgarian alumnus who graduated from AUBG in 2016. He majored in European Studies, as well as Political Science and International Relations. After graduating from the university, Petar continued his education in the College of Europe doing a Master’s Degree in EU International Relations and Diplomacy Studies. Currently, he is the Head of Strategy and Partnership at e-mobility platform Ampeco and his work recently won him the EV Under 30 Star in The Electric Vehicle Innovation & Excellence Awards 2021. Read our interview with Petar to learn more about his experience at AUBG and beyond.
Congratulations on winning the EV Under 30 Star in The Electric Vehicle Innovation & Excellence Awards 2021! What does this award mean to you?
Being nominated and winning such a prestigious award is certainly something very humbling. I have been working in the electric mobility industry for about 5 years now and the award recognizes the track record of achievements along my career path so far. The award means that my contribution to the overall betterment of the sector does not go unnoticed, which is kind of cool for someone my age and with my background.
I believe that our work at AMPECO is a key driver of economic growth in the clean energy transition. In short, we provide the software needed to scale and monetize the business of charging electric vehicles. I’m proud to bring up the need for positive change – in Europe and in my region too. And it’s great to see this momentum growing.
You have a rich experience in the fields of electromobility and environmental transport. What is something that attracted you to this professional sphere?
Electric mobility is a high-tech industry that will have a major positive impact on our lives. Right now, we mostly see expensive electric vehicles but the idea here is to also make these affordable. In 2020, one out of every 10 new cars sold in the EU had a plug and this year that’s already one out of every five. Such trends will also soon cover the market for vans, buses and trucks. This will bring health benefits for citizens and financial benefits for businesses operating these vehicles.
Of course, it will take time to get there but the wheel already started turning. We have to ensure a fair and affordable future of transportation. I started my career in Brussels, as a lobbyist for this cause and this sector overall, and now I am proud to work for a Bulgarian company that enables this new mobility globally!
Why do you think innovations are important, especially in the face of the climate crisis?
Sustainable development is not only good for our climate but increasingly good for businesses all around the world. Wind and solar electricity is the cheapest one out there but it is difficult to store if we’re not using it. So electric cars offer the opportunity to act as "batteries-on-wheels" and innovation at the core of the charging process can ensure the most efficient way to use this energy. With an electric car, you don’t just plug in and forget. You can even get paid for charging in certain hours of the day. Technically speaking, in the next five years the aggregated power in batteries of all electric cars in Bulgaria will equal the power of a coal power plant. But in practice we need innovation to unlock this and charging infrastructure is the solution.
Please tell me a bit more about your master’s degree and previous job experiences.
I did my Master’s degree at the College of Europe, the leading postgraduate school for EU affairs. This happened right after graduating AUBG and allowed me to specialize further in European Studies and Political Science, which were my two majors. The knowledge I received at AUBG was certainly the deciding factor for me to get accepted to a very demanding International Relations and Diplomacy program at the College of Europe. There I took courses related to global political economy, energy and climate - which ultimately highlighted to me the importance of slashing emissions in transport, the biggest greenhouse gas polluter, while preserving the competitiveness of this industry.
When I started my first job in Brussels, I was quite ready to tackle the processes within the European institutions… but you see, there’s always more to what they tell you in the textbooks. The intricacies of lobbying activities in the EU capital require some time to get familiar with. And seeing different angles helped me a lot: I worked for a clean transport NGO and then for the Council of the EU during the 2018 Bulgarian Presidency before moving to one of the biggest trade associations. This association represented the European electricity industry with more than 3,500 energy companies who seconded experts to various working groups. From the outset I had the responsibility to manage these groups and build industry positions on various electric mobility topics, which resonated with policy-makers. This gave me the opportunity to actively contribute to the finalization of major EU legislation related to electric vehicles and the corresponding charging infrastructure. With the sector growing so fast, I decided to join the business side - and move from speaking about it to doing it.
You are also a zythologist at the Beer Labyrinth. How have you decided to pursue this interest? What do you find most exciting about it?
I blame Belgium for this. Zythos is the Greek world for Egyptian barley beer, so essentially I am now also a ‘beer sommelier’. During my studies in Brugge, I surprisingly joined only one student club - the one running the student bar - and I was not the only AUBGer there either as a matter of fact! We got to visit beer festivals, talk to breweries and monks - and before you know it, I was seriously getting into the world of Belgian beer. When I moved to Brussels I could now speak with locals in English and in turn learnt quite a lot more about the customs and culture behind Belgian beer, its different styles and their history. Naturally, the more you know, the more curious you get about the stuff you don’t - so I started taking beer classes in addition to tasting all the various styles and passed a set of exams. Then I started organizing small gatherings with friends.
The best part about it now is that I am showcasing the style characteristics and variety of rare beer styles. I’ve created a nice interactive format where we go through various beers and sometimes pair them with food. It’s my hobby right now. Let’s see what the future holds.
What has been AUBG’s role in your personal and professional development - both in terms of academics and student clubs.
It all started with getting into AUBG in the first place. I took the SAT four times in order to get the score for a full scholarship - otherwise, I wouldn’t have studied in Blago at all. All this stubbornness sharpened my motivation which then in turn saw my years at AUBG become quite rich in terms of experiences.
I have taken various roles in AUBG clubs - the Griffins, Student Government, the Musical, Olympics, TEDx, Rotaract - and met wonderful people along the way. But the most relevant I would say was the club behind Model EU, the European Society Club - of which I was President in my junior and senior year.
As someone who enjoys multi-tasking and keeping both sides of my brain active, it didn’t come as a surprise that I was so active all-around. With time, you learn how to prioritize and find what’s important, not just what’s really fun to do.
This is perhaps why I ended up taking my academics more seriously each following year and by the time of my senior year I was also the Student Representative to the POS/EUR department, trying to think alongside our professors about the best approach to the curriculum.
Do you stay in touch and collaborate with other AUBG alumni and in what ways?
Since graduation, I’ve mostly been in touch with a few close friends from my class (2016) and current students behind the Model EU conference. In Brussels we also had a small AUBG community and we had yearly visits by prof. Crombois and his students. Hope that events are back soon - in Blago and in Sofia!
What is one piece of advice you would give to current AUBG students who wish to pursue a similar professional path as yours?
Make the most out of each moment: each class, each extra-curricular activity and every casual stroll along the river. Efficiency is key and contrary to popular belief wasting your time can also be helpful if you do it right.. but make sure to prioritize your physical and mental health. Everyone has a different path. Students who study politics can become journalists or entrepreneurs while students who study computer science can become lobbyists. At the end of the day, it’s about enjoying what you do.