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After graduating for his Ph.D. in theoretical atomic physics in 1998, Ernst joined A.T. Kearney in Amsterdam. His work initially focused on the telecom & media sector, where he spent time in the Middle East and Americas to prepare incumbents for market liberalisation through efficiency measures and top-line improvements.

Following a short spell in the dot.com boom in the early 2000s, Ernst moved to the United Kingdom in 2004 where he joined Roland Berger Strategy Consultants to set up the utility practice in the UK and Middle East. He spent significant time in the water sector, after which he moved via the waste management sector into the energy sector. He delivered target synergies for several post-merger integrations. In the meantime, Ernst conducted growth strategy studies in the UK telecom & media sector.

In 2010 Ernst joined RWEnpower as Director of Corporate Development & Strategy. In this role he was accountable for setting up the smart metering program for RWEnpower through which he was introduced to the potential value of big data. With his team he developed a new business model for the retail business and he developed a strategy for the generation business, resulting in the sale of RWE's nuclear business in the UK.

In 2014, Ernst founded SWHERE Limited and developed a track record delivering bottom line results for companies managing a large asset or customer base.