25 Apr 2017

Karolis Gudas awarded a PhD from the WTI

The WTI offers world-class facilities, teaching, mentoring and an extraordinary alumni network.

Karolis Gudas, a national of Lithuania who enrolled on the WTI PhD programme in 2014, successfully defended his thesis in Bern on 15 March. In this interview Karolis, who had previously studied law in Vilnius, London and Reykjavik, tells us about his thesis topic and his experience of studying at the WTI.

Karolis’s dissertation project was in the framework of the Swiss National Centre for Competence in Research (NCCR) Trade Regulation, Work Package 5 Trade and Climate Change, and was supervised by Professor Thomas Cottier.

Where are you now and what is your job?

I am now based in Vilnius, the small, cosy and picturesque capital of Lithuania. I am working as the head of legal division on the development of a combined heat and power plant in Vilnius, a project of national significance. The project will help Lithuania to reduce its landfill waste and increase its share of renewable energy sources in the production of heat and electricity, as well as to increase its energy efficiency.

How did you celebrate the successful defence of your thesis?

The day of my defence I had a surprise party in Bern, Switzerland, and a week later a small get-together event in Nida, a seaside resort of Lithuania.

It depends a lot on your attitude and approach, but I found the PhD to be challenging: endless working hours and much material to study. I remember spending almost every single weekend with fellow researchers Tilman and Simona in the WTI library, and with Chung-Han and Aileen at the University of Cambridge. After my PhD I am enjoying my life a bit more, as it’s the first time in my career that I am focused only on my job, and am no longer studying. I even had holidays: work-free and study-free. At the same time, I miss people in Switzerland. I found wonderful friends there, great colleagues, smart and polite, and an encouraging environment that allowed much space for personal development.

Tell us about your thesis topic.

I wrote a PhD on the development of cross-border infrastructure and markets for electricity trade and transit, based on the WTO, EU and Energy Charter frameworks. I examined physical and commercial constraints for cross-border trade in electricity at the international level, and available legal guarantees to address the challenges related to the electricity trade. I examined the legal environment for cross-border electricity infrastructure and market development in the European Union, Southern Africa, Central America and Commonwealth of Independent States.

What was your experience of doing your PhD at the WTI? What were the highlights?

The WTI offers world-class facilities, teaching, mentoring and an extraordinary alumni network. We have few alumni in Lithuania working in leading law firms. Perhaps the most memorable experience that I had was working with Professor Thomas Cottier until his retirement, also on consultancy projects. I have learned much from him. I also had great company at the WTI. I had a chance to meet and learn from people from all over the world: Africa, Asia, the Americas and Australia.