Role: General Manager
Company: Firmus Energy
Track Record: Firmus energy builds and maintains the gas network from Derry-Londonderry to Warrenpoint via Antrim. It also competes within the greater Belfast natural gas market
What does your job entail?
I’m responsible for firmus energy’s business operations, working closely with the team in the main areas of the business including finance, engineering, pricing / regulation as well as sales and marketing.
Every day is different and I enjoy meeting with customers, consumer groups, statutory bodies and elected representatives, in addition to working closely with the different teams within the organisation.
We have witnessed significant growth since entering the natural gas market with our customer numbers across Northern Ireland fast approaching 40,000.
Something we are really proud of is that firmus energy has never had a formal Consumer Council complaint or indeed a complaint about our roadwork activities lodged with the Department of Regional Development. The team is working hard to keep it this way!
Is it 9 – 5?
No! I don’t think many jobs at senior management level really are. All businesses in this economic climate need to work harder than ever to ensure that they remain viable.
In the “new” gas towns and cities we are working towards making natural gas the fuel of choice for homes and businesses and we are striving to become the first choice for gas customers in greater Belfast.
How did you get into this kind of work?
I studied combined economics at Queen’s University so initially pursued this avenue.
Finance is a major focus of my job today, especially regulatory affairs although I do enjoy the operational, people and customer sides of the business.
Outline your career to date
I started my career with British Gas in London and after a few years I returned home to join a local natural gas provider.
In 2006 I took up the challenge of helping firmus energy establish itself as a new energy provider in the areas where gas hadn’t previously been available. My role evolved and I became head of business development and recently I took on my current role as general manager.
Tell us about your qualifications/training
Coming from a business background I studied the engineering processes by immersing myself in this side of the business.
firmus energy has laid more than 700km of gas network by various methods, by traditional pipe laying as well as trenchless methods where major digging work is significantly reduced. Therefore, I work closely with our engineers and we talk about the best way to minimise disruption for households and businesses in areas where we are extending our network.
We offer a wide variety of training to our employees whether they work in HR, sales, marketing, finance or engineering. All staff continue to receive energy efficiency training and I am extremely pleased to say that we are the only utility in the UK to provide City & Guilds accredited training to all employees, via National Energy Action (NEA) the fuel poverty charity.
We also continually undertake customer care training so that every team member is able to respond to customer questions in a professional manner.
What qualities are required for your job – personal and professional?
People skills and strategic thinking are absolutely vital. firmus energy is very procedurally driven and we spend a lot of time tactically working through processes and forward planning.
Together with my senior management team we develop and communicate any new initiatives throughout the various areas of the business and to all staff.
What is the best advice you ever received?
Always be true to yourself and I respect other business people who think similarly. I am very passionate about firmus energy’s brand values of clarity, empathy and integrity.
We use these values to challenge each other as a team and to ensure that we offer consistently excellent service to both new and existing customers.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Like most parents I seem to be the kids taxi driver at weekends we have four children and each has their own individual interests and societies to be ferried to and from.
We all love to go for walks and take bike rides together. Sport plays a major role in our lives – our boys enjoy rugby, football and golf and the girls love hockey and gymnastics.
Tell us an interesting fact about yourself
I once went white-water rafting in Zimbabwe… and didn’t fall out! It was both one of the most terrifying and exhilarating moments of my life all wrapped up in one experience. It was 15 years ago, when my wife and I were on honeymoon.
Who has inspired you most in your life?
Professionally, Mark Prentice, who initially laid down the company’s brand values. Personally, I would have to say my family, when I was younger I helped my father working in the construction industry at weekends and holidays and that is where I learned the value of hard work and a strong work ethic.