The Hoggett Bowers 2 Minute Interview: Jim Lightfoot
President & CEO, InterGen
What challenge did you tackle and overcome in your business this week?
We were working with shareholders to obtain alignment and approval for upcoming growth projects. This included bilateral meetings (with our two main shareholding groups) to identify areas of misalignment or disagreement, preparation of proposal documents, before final meetings for negotiation and approval. There was senior level engagement to ensure points of disagreement could be worked through to secure agreement.
Which ongoing business challenge is occupying your thoughts this week/month?
Preparation for bringing staff back into the office and securing new methods of working, ensuring we gain the benefits of the working methods from lockdown, whilst protecting staff at the tail end of the pandemic.
We have had 2 national lockdowns and a range of regional tier variations over many months. In what way has your approach to these lockdowns / tier restrictions permanently influenced your own way of working and have you made, or will you make any further adjustments as we slowly begin to emerge from the 3rd lockdown?
The pandemic has changed a great deal and revolutionised home working through MS Teams and other platforms. I have previously worked with international teams which required the use of digital platforms. This calls for an adjustment in style, and working method for everyone, including myself, and going forwards, we will clearly continue with this. However, increased face-to-face meetings will occur because it has been clear that the lack of face-to-face contact has had an overall impact on effectiveness and relationships – which are essential to the success of the business.
Given the reliance on technology during lockdowns, do you now envisage an acceleration in digital/workforce transformation in the short-medium term?
I wouldn’t say a further acceleration. I think the use of digital systems changed significantly at the beginning of lockdown. We see a continuation of the use of those systems but not a significant further development or increase.
What are the new working norms starting to look like for your organisation?
Everybody’s understanding, ability, and commitment to working with a different style which is necessary in a totally digital working world. That would include the obvious acceptance of interruptions, children, animals, dress code, but most importantly, the time given to listening, checking and understanding in meetings with individuals or groups, ensuring that everybody’s views are brought forward.
There is a dramatic reduction in carbon footprints during lockdowns, what is your business planning to do to help continue this going forward?
We are a carbon-intensive business, and have plans to begin a transformation to a lower carbon intensity, whether that’s towards batteries in the UK or carbon capture in Australia. On a smaller scale, we will continue with our digital platforms and gain both efficiency and lower carbon, by travelling less.
In terms of personal well-being, what changes have you made, and will you stick to them post lockdown?
Working from home as opposed to the office, you have had more time in your day – some of which, I have used to walk every day. This is something I have found very beneficial, giving me space and time to reflect, decompress and do some exercise. I intend to continue this as a result of the benefits I’ve seen and build it into my working day, after lockdown.
Who or what has inspired you this week? (They don’t need to be famous)
The Chairwoman of my local Parish Counsel – who after addressing a very difficult issue, with polarised views across the Parish, handled the aggressive and unfortunate challenges in the public domain, with clarity, respect and incredible patience and restraint. This is a role which is clearly a public service and is completely unpaid.
Given the recent announcements pertaining to a roadmap out of lockdown are you planning to book a summer holiday this year? If so where ideally would you like to go?
Yes, I intend to take some holiday but as a result of the restrictions this summer, we will go to Scotland, where our company is based. But later in the year, as lockdown eases, I would like to go back to Italy or Spain, because we enjoy the people, the culture, the food and the wine.
Any words of wisdom?
It’s very easy to get drawn into work and the intensity of it, and even after all these years, to forget to take time and stop, and appreciate family, friends, and the simple things in life.