Oisín O’Brien is currently working as the Director of Research and Data Analytics at GridMarket, a NYC-based startup. He reflects on Milano’s prioritization of group work and interdisciplinary perspectives as having prepared him for the complex environmental, policy, and business problems he encounters. Questions for Oisín? Reach out.

HeadshotWhy did you choose to study at The New School’s Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy?

Milano’s EPSM program appealed to me because the school’s framework for preparing professionals to tackle climate change contrasted from the type of environmental activism that historically characterized the movement in the 20th century to focus on applying a multidisciplinary approach leveraging tactics from public policy, business, finance, and social justice activism to incubate the type of interdisciplinary solutions required to address climate change in the 21st century.


What advice would you give new students to help them make the most of their time here?

Don’t be afraid to push yourself to learn about alternate approaches/disciplines that sit outside either your comfort zone or your imbedded perspective on how solutions should be crafted.  An understanding of how other stakeholders view a particular issue is imperative to creating the innovative, interdisciplinary solutions that climate change and environmental issues generally require.  

Were you very involved while a student, inside or outside of campus? What projects stick out in your mind? What benefit did your involvement have?

I was deeply involved in learning as much as possible from my professors, instructors, and classmates while at Milano.  Projects/classes that stick out in my mind are: A case study/soil remediation toolkit prepared for Added Value community farm in Red Hook, the climate change adaptation risk assessment framework being developed by Shagun Mehrotra, and Charles Allison’s Elements of Finance course.  

Do you have any particularly memorable student experiences? 

I was lucky enough to be awarded the Tishman Environmental Fellowship and was able to work for a summer in Anchorage Alaska at the Renewable Energy Alaska Project, where I was exposed to the complexity of the Alaskan energy sector, and the complicated relationship that exists there between Alaskans, the oil industry, and emerging renewable technologies.  A field trip to Indian Point Nuclear Powerplant stands out in my mind, as well as a spring break trip to volunteer at Sylvestor Manor, an historic, educational family-owned farm on Shelter Island.  All of the collaborative group work stands out as well! 

Tell us about what you’re working on now! How did your experience at Milano prepare you for your work and projects?

I work at GridMarket, a NYC-based startup focused on accelerating the deployment of distributed energy resources (DERs) for large energy consumers looking to reduce GHG emissions, reduce their utility expenses, and enable clean, resilient power in the event of an emergency.  By analyzing building’s energy usage, billing, and site specific data, we enable property owners to make informed decisions about the types of DERs that are most applicable to their facilities and assist them to navigate the procurement process.