Meet the Graduate:
Ayomikun Bello
Bello Ayo, MSc-2; Phd-1, Petroleum Engineering |CTO at Eco-Energy
Tell us about your Skoltech journey. Why did you decide to join Skoltech?

After completing my bachelor's degree in Kazan, Russia, I had a few options for pursuing a master's degree. Since I don't particularly fancy a "nomadic" lifestyle, I knew it would be a critical decision for me, so I sought for where I could build a career for myself. I found a good fit between my passion, my future prospective and what Skoltech offers in its entirety. I wanted to have an interesting adventure with experimental research in my field of study, and I learned that Skoltech has a cutting-edge lab facility devoted to just that. It wasn't until after I joined Skoltech and started working in the lab, that I realise the gold mine I had struck. So far, choosing Skoltech has been one of my best decisions.

    Tell us about your Skoltech journey. Why did you decide to join Skoltech?

    At Skoltech, it is impossible to overstate the quantity and quality of resources accessible to students, including human resources, educational resources, financial, psychological support, and many more. To me, it is incredible to see how, with the help of Skoltech resources, a simple idea conceived in a laboratory/classroom corner can be built from scratch and transformed into a business enterprise that generates millions of rubles annually.

    Additionally, I truly appreciate how progressive Skoltech courses are. Every year, the majority of the courses are modified based on student feedback. The courses are also designed to involve team projects that encourage collaboration, public speaking and practicality beyond the classroom. Finally, the nature of the curriculum provides students complete control over the courses they can take. They can design their own personalized study plan and explore courses across disciplines to find ones they are interested in.

      What are you doing now and how do you see your future career?

      At the moment, I'm working as a research employee of Skoltech and developing my startup with my team. In November, I will commence my PhD study. With regards to my future career, I'll like borrow the words of my favourite faculty at Skoltech - "Science, research, publications are all good, but of what use are they if they just sit there in the corners of your lab". Thus, even though I want to stay in academia, I would also like to engage in consultancy for petroleum service or operating companies while overseeing the affairs at Eco-Energy. I'm confident that the skills I've acquired at Skoltech—and will continue to acquire—will support me and help me succeed. In the future, I hope to make available as many as possible technologies for enhanced oil recovery and CO2 sequestration.

      Tell us more about your startup activity: what project are you involved in? Who is your team? What is your role?
      Well, I'm a co-founder and CTO at Eco-Energy, a Skoltech startup that specialises on developing smart waste management solutions for both residential and industrial use. My duties involve overseeing scientific research, development of technical strategies, and technological infrastructure of our product(s).Currently, we are a registered company in Russia and week-in week-out, we are transforming our pilot project into launch phase. In fact, we already have an industrial partner whom we'll conduct a pilot test with. We are also on our final stages with an investment company.
      I'm a part of a fantastic team of 5, which includes 2 faculty members and three Skoltech graduates.

      How to combine 2 career tracks: startup and study? What are the main challenges for you?
      Time management was one of my biggest challenges. I was aware that I needed to keep up with my team in order to launch our startup as soon as we can. I also wanted to finish my MSc degree and graduate with honors, at the same time I wanted to be a researcher which means spending time in the lab and having publications. All these activities are time-consuming, and I wouldn't deny that finding a balance was difficult. However, I learnt to identify what is urgent and what's not. I enjoy working with deadlines, not because I will complete the task on the deadline but it allows me to plan ahead and prioritise based on my goals, and that of my team. I always set my goals in accordance with our key objectives in startup running, but feeling strong responsibility for my academic performance at the same time. Finally, I'd like to add that I work with the best team who appreciate one another and make it easier to overcome any challenges.

      Bello gave some tips to students who want to develop their project during their study at Skoltech.
      Check it out!
      Firstly, I want to stress the importance of believing in your idea, no matter how simple or 'unsophisticated' it seems. Whether you have to write 1 line of code or 25 pages of code, the consumer won't care.
      ✦ Don't forget to use all Skoltech resources that are made for you.
      ✦ Finally, take your time and enjoy the process. Your project won't be built overnight, you will have to go through many stages, you will have to put in the work, your product will go through myriad of iterations based on the specifications and feedback of your end users (customers).
      Keep going, keep innovating but stay focused and be true to your values.

      The Skoltech Career Center thanks Ayomikun Bello for this interview and support.