WHO WERE YOUR ROLE MODELS DURING THE PIVOTAL STAGES OF YOUR LIFE?
Jeremy Brownlow, a partner at law firm Clifford Chance, taught me (the hard way) that every problem has a solution.
Brian Caffyn, my senior partner in UPC Renewables, showed me that to achieve true success you need to be prepared to put in the hard work.
WHAT ARE YOUR TOP ATTRIBUTES OF A SUCCESSFUL LEADER?
• Being able to switch quickly from overall strategy to detail.
• Fairness and loyalty.
• Lead by example. Never ask someone to do something you are not prepared to do yourself.
• Strive to be best in c lass in our markets.
FROM A GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE, WHO DO YOU ASPIRE TO BE OR TAKE LESSONS FROM IN THE POWER SECTOR?
I take inspiration from Glasgowheadquartered Aggreko – become a dominant player in your sector of the power market and become indispensable to your clients.
LEADING PEOPLE: IS IT A SECRET, A SCIENCE OR AN INHERENT TRAIT?
Leadership is an art form that transforms and evolves with every generation. Therefore, you need to adapt and evolve to ensure you practise productive leadership. However, to be a leader is not unique to the business environment.
I am able to practise my leadership while performing my favourite sport, yacht racing. I often have crews as large as twelve where leadership in times of crisis is key not only to win the race but also to return safely to the harbour.
WHAT VALUES DO YOU DEMONSTRATE AS A LEADER?
• Confident decision maker
• I seek out the weaknesses of others and enable their development.
• I protect the interests of the firm and the people who work for it.
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST WEAKNESS?
I often take on too many commitments and assume that everyone else is prepared to commit to see them through to fr uition, which is not always the case.
WHAT IS THE ONE THING IN YOUR OPINION THAT PEOPLE COMMONLY MISCONCEIVE ABOUT YOUR CHARACTER?
It is easy to misjudge my character as soft and lenient, which gives people the perception that they can take advantage of my kind nature – but this only happens once and never again as they then realise that I’m no walk-over.
HOW DO YOU MOTIVATE A TEAM AFTER EXPERIENCING A DEFEAT?
Honesty – have an open straightforward discussion identifying the mistakes made and work together to determine the best way forward.
WHAT SHORT-MEDIUM TERM FUTURE DO YOU FORESEE FOR THE AFRICAN POWER SECTOR?
I believe that the African power sector will see profound changes in the next 10 years, positioning her ahead of the power game globally. There will be less emphasis on g rid power and more focus placed on off-g rid and grid-tied power generation with storage capacity. In terms of trends, I foresee a bright future for waste-to-energy (biomass) projects, and offgrid and large-scale developments such as tidal projects, particularly in West Africa.
THE POWER INDUSTRY IS A HIGH-PRIORITY SECTOR FOR ECONOMIES ACROSS THE GLOBE. IN YOUR OPINION, IS THERE A NEED FOR SECTOR CROSSOVER?
My company is working hard on bringing all utilities in ‘one box’ to African communities (some 700 million people) who currently have no access to the power (electricity) and telecoms sector (internet). The ‘one box’ innovation will hold electricity, internet access, water and banking services. T he focus is on prosperity creation and reduction of the need for populations to migrate to survive and prosper. Already this concept is beginning to evolve as an accepted strategy in view of the logistic challenges that accessing such communities can pose.
HOW IMPORTANT IS BILATERAL TRADE BETWEEN AFRICA AND FOREIGN COUNTRIES WITH A SIMILAR MARKET BLUEPRINT?
Bilateral trade is key to Africa’s prosperity. It will lessen the overdependency on global commodity markets and create jobs in traditional areas such as far ming and fishing. Ethiopia is currently securing more food markets within the EU, in particular. India and Asia are going to become increasingly dependent on African food, which means limiting the amount of red tape will enable markets to grow and develop.
ARE THERE ANY ACHIEVEMENTS OR CHALLENGES THAT YOUR RESIDING COUNTRY HAS EXPERIENCED THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO BRING TO THE FORE?
In the United Kingdom, the power sector is the second oldest in the world, ha ving inherited strategies that were implemented in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
With nearly 500 power stations and a vast network of overhead high voltage cables nearing the end of its lifespan, the replacement costs are unaffordable at the current electricity prices. Some estimates put the bill at $500 billion for their replacement.
The lesson here for Africa is to look a t the new strategies going ahead for the off-grid sector – the power revolution is comparable to the impact of the mobile phone on the fix ed line phone market.