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The Hoggett Bowers 2 Minute Interview: Mark Horsley

Mark Horsley Interview
Mark Horsley, Chief Executive Officer, Northern Gas Networks

Mark has over 40 years’ experience in the energy sector. He joined Northern Gas Networks, the North of England’s gas distributer, as Chief Executive Officer in 2011. Mark was previously Equity Partner and Head of Power Distribution at EC Harris, an international built asset consultancy, Strategy and Central Programmes Director at Scottish Power and President and Chief Operating Officer at CE Electric UK, where he began his career as an apprentice. Mark is also an Independent Non-Executive Director at Affinity Water and Non-Executive Director of the Energy Innovation Centre.

Which ongoing business challenge is occupying your thoughts this week/month?

We’re doing a lot of work in the hydrogen space at the moment, focused on proving the role of the UK gas network in safely transporting this greener gas. We’re starting to make real progress in terms of engaging government on hydrogen’s potential for helping achieve Net Zero, and on how investing in hydrogen could also support economic recovery. There’s a lot of work still to do but the progress we’ve made in a short time is very encouraging.

Best thing about working from home/remotely?

Definitely the reduced travelling times, spending less hours in the car or on a train.

Worst thing about working from home/remotely?

It’s often difficult to break off and take time away from the screen. Long days come with the territory, but lockdown has put greater demands on all of us, so making sure there’s some sort of balance is so important. I definitely miss the buzz of our offices too, and catching up face to face with my teams.

What is the most significant change to the way you work as a consequence of the lockdown?

Embracing the available technology to stay in touch with our people and evolving the way we’re working. The last three months have demonstrated that business doesn’t have to be solely about office-based activity. They’ve shown that there is a need for greater flexibility which takes into account the lives we’re leading. It’s a change that we’ll be taking forwards.

What change are you most likely to keep and what will you definitely not continue, post lockdown?

Using the various video platforms such as Teams/Zoom/Skype is definitely here to stay, they’ve become absolutely essential. Which probably answers the questions about what we won’t keep: non-essential travel. The technology proves we can operate meetings in a different way, and the environmental benefits of cutting our journeys speaks for itself in terms of carbon savings.

Who or what has inspired you this week? (They don’t need to be famous)

I’m always inspired by our people. In the time since lockdown began, the response from colleagues who are helping and supporting our communities, finding ways to make a positive difference, supporting charities, customers and care homes through this crisis, has been incredible. From our engineers out in the field to our office-based teams,
they’re doing some amazing things.

Best programme/film you watched on TV/streaming this week?

Not sure about this week but since lockdown I’ve caught up with Killing Eve, Homeland, The Last Dance on Netflix. I’ve definitely missed sport.

Are you doing more or less exercise than a typical week when you commute and if more, what?

Yes. I try to make time for a daily walk and getting some fresh air. It’s not exactly regimented but I do try to build it into my day.

What are you consuming more of (that you should not be) now you are not in an office environment?

Probably more coffee but nothing too unhealthy.

Any words of wisdom?

I think as a business it’s more important than ever to recognise we’re a community, and that together, we will get through this. There will be significant challenges to come for some time, but by looking after our people, and ensuring they and their families stay as safe as possible with all the support we can provide in the meantime, we’ll get there.