The Hoggett Bowers 2 Minute Interview: Steve Fraser
CEO, Cadent Gas
What challenge did you tackle and overcome in your business this week?
The present situation with Covid is making normal day to day business a challenge on its own, however, specifically this week we’ve been addressing how we treat customers and employees who are living and operating in different tier levels across the UK. It’s a difficult balance to address especially when trying to give clarity to an organisation through employee communication.
Which ongoing business challenge is occupying your thoughts this week/month?
Like most companies we are starting to wrestle with the roll out of Covid 19 vaccines and do we follow government guidelines or do we have a company specific approach to rollout. Also, we are about to receive our price determination from our regulator Ofgem, so this has been taking up a lot of both mine and our Board’s time and energies.
In retrospect what would you have done differently in the first lockdown and therefore, how may this shape your thinking for the current and any future lockdown (local or national)?
I am really pleased with how we approached both lockdowns 1 and 2. We didn’t make hard and fast rules and tried to allow a good element of flexibility in how we dealt with customers and employees. This served us well. The only real change I would have made was in the initial 2 weeks of lockdown 1 whereby we could have been better prepared from an IT perspective.
Given the reliance on technology during lockdowns, do you now envisage an acceleration in digital/ workforce transformation in the short-medium term?
I think that technology enabled meetings and communication tools such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom etc. are allowing for a much more efficient and effective working day. I envisage, and believe it necessary, that there will be further developments in the technologies that allows in room meetings to connect to people who want to use a Teams type facility. These are very effective when everyone is dialling in or connected through Teams, but development is needed where some people are together in a room and others want to use Teams functionality.
What are the new working norms starting to look like for your organisation?
I think we have all realised that there are new norms and that those will be different for all businesses. For our business at Cadent, I really believe we will have more flexibility in working from home and remote working but there will still be a need to spend 2 or 3 days per week in offices having face to face contact with colleagues. I think it’s important that solid back office processes are put in place to underpin these new norms.
There is a dramatic reduction in carbon footprints during lockdowns, what is your business planning to do to help continue this going forward?
We hope to continue with a more reduced impact on the environment. We are going to be doing things like not insisting on face to face meetings; renewing our vehicle fleet so that they are very fuel efficient; and where possible, using hydrogen vehicles; and during lockdown, we have invested hugely in reducing the amount of gas leaking from our network which flows through in to a carbon footprint reduction. And it goes without saying, trying to blend hydrogen into the gas network which will be a huge prize for a UK Plc.
What changes personally will you keep from the lockdown periods going forward?
Less unnecessary travel, but still making time to meet teams and people out in the business. I’m definitely more efficient now than I was pre-lockdown
Who or what has inspired you this week? (They don’t need to be famous)
I have been inspired by the huge amount of work that normal people are doing to support each-other in things like stocking foodbanks and helping the elderly, and people who don’t have support bubbles around them. Covid has shown that the world can be a kind place.
Did you manage a holiday this year and if so where / how did you spend it and what are your plans for Christmas?
Normally I holiday in Palma being a creature of habit, but this year, we visited Croatia prior to the travel ban being put in place in that part of the world. Given I still can’t travel to Majorca at Christmas, I am planning a short trip to Dubai.