UCL Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy


Paola Cuttitta

Paola graduated from our Urban Innovation and Policy MPA in 2019. She is now working as a Strategic and Commercial Developer at Enel X.

Photo of alumnus, Paola Cuttitta
What attracted you to the Department of STEaPP at UCL?

I studied Politics and International Relations for my undergraduate degree, and I always thought that I wanted to go into politics and public policy. As part of my undergraduate degree, I did a study project with the C-40, and it made me realise that I wanted to explore areas like urban studies and social development.

I didn’t have any experience within engineering or architecture from my undergraduate degree, and I didn’t want to go into a completely new area, so I started looking around at what else was available and then I found the MPA at STEaPP and it offered everything that I was looking for. I really liked that the MPA didn’t just focus on the UK, but gave a global overview of what the urban development situation is. We had modules on energy and political entrepreneurship, giving me a chance to explore all fields. I wasn’t sure what route I wanted to go into for my career, so the MPA was the perfect opportunity to explore different areas.

What was your favourite aspect of your course?

It was very different from my undergrad; the classes were quite small which meant we could have in-depth discussions about various topics, and we were constantly being challenged – not just with the given readings, but with presentations of projects as well.

The professors were also working in the industry in which they taught, which meant they had a lot of knowledge and business connections – we always had speakers coming in. For example, my dissertation was with the Mayor of London – I don’t think any other university would have given me the chance to participate in such an interesting project. I got the opportunity to go to Frankfurt for some of the interviews, and we could organize interviews with representatives of eight big cities around the world, such as Moscow, Shanghai, San Francisco, Amsterdam etc. It was challenging but amazing, and working on a group project rather than alone was a big part of the experience.

What did you most enjoy about studying in London?

I think London is a city that you either love or hate, and luckily, I fell in love with it!

I did my undergraduate degree at Southampton, so it was very different moving from a campus life to a city university. I found there was a lot of travelling around, but it was great because I had the chance to meet friends within UCL or go to one of the amazing public libraries that London offers. There’s also a lot of nightlife within London; there really is something for everyone.

What is your current job title and can you tell me a little about your role?

I’m currently working as a Strategic and Commercial Developer at Enel X, which is the first energy provider company in Italy. We work with a lot of other countries, including the UK.

Enel X is an interesting company – it’s built as the global business line within Enel Group, and because of this it’s really fast-paced.

I work in the digital ecosystem, looking after project developments specifically for B2G. This involves all things within the public infrastructure - like public transport and public lighting etc. One aspect of my job is to find energy savings within public infrastructures. I find it links quite nicely with my degree as I’m exploring how to save energy and provide more sustainable public services to cities around the world.

How do you think your degree has helped you to get to where you are now?

After graduating, I went travelling to Southeast Asia. I got back to London at the beginning of the pandemic which wasn’t the best timing, so after a while I decided to move back home to Italy. Everyone in Italy loved that I had studied at UCL, as it has such a fantastic reputation and having that on my CV opened so many doors for me.

At first, I started working for another big energy service provider in Italy, doing a lot of research about what could/would happen in the future of hydrogen, and from there I got offered the job that I’m at now. I enjoy my current role a lot more as it’s more practical and I can see the results from changes I make as quickly as the day after.

UCL definitely gave me a good grounding to understand the sort of problems that I work with on a day-to-day basis. It also gave me the experience for working on fast-paced development projects, improved my problem-solving skills and taught me how to be reactive.

What advice would you give to current or prospective students?

I loved my professors; they had so much to offer in terms of knowledge and industry connections and I regret not making the most of that.

I would advise future students to build the best relation they can with their professors, learn from their knowledge, their experience and their connections. Go to the guest lectures and ask questions – make the most of the opportunities offered – not every university provides such amazing ones.

The MPA is such a great programme as well as there are so many modules to choose from. You can really shape your learning to suit your interests.