New CEO, new ways of working, by Acting CEO Dan Hopkinson
As new acting CEO of ElectraLink, I wanted to write this blog as an opportunity to introduce myself. I joined ElectraLink in March 2016 after many years in the energy sector driving change and pursuing data-led improvements to market problems including the logistical challenges of smart meter deployment. I started in ElectraLink with a focus on the development and growth of data services which transformed the Data Transfer Service into the Energy Market Data Hub (EMDH) this has included the recent procurement and deployment of the new, public cloud-based infrastructure for the EMDH. In addition, I have worked with the team to add real time data access capability to our Energy Market Insights (EMI) delivering sustainable value for our EMI customers. Latterly, I have been focussed on how our ElectraLink can support the open data agenda needed to facilitate the network management component of the drive to net zero. This exciting initiative is a priority for both ElectraLink and its DNO shareholders.
Being appointed as Acting CEO during a global pandemic has unique challenges. After five years as Director of Data and Transformation, I like to think I know the business well, especially how we innovate with data to solve industry problems, so I do feel like I have a head start. Having said that ElectraLink, like every business, is now trying to respond to the massive changes to the energy market alongside the changes to our way of life and work driven by COVID-19.
Since March last year, and especially during the long lockdowns, ElectraLink staff have worked exceptionally hard and flexibly to maintain our high standards. Pre-pandemic, most staff were Working From Home (WFH) several days a week and Working From Office the rest, so we were well practised in this balance of flexibility and I believe this had made the transition easier for us than for many.
However, for many years, I spent more than five hours a day commuting between my home in Leicestershire and my work in places like London and Newcastle. The terrific flexible working culture at ElectraLink reduced how often I had to make those trips, but there was always a need to ensure I was using my time most wisely to justify the travel when it did happen.
Reflecting on those days of spending hours each day in a car or on a train, it is now clear to me the direction ElectraLink needs to go as the world of work shifts in the midst of Covid. Each day it becomes clearer that there are considerable benefits to be realised when ideas flow freely, can be dissected and interrogated jointly, and a diverse group of people collaborate towards a shared ambition. For this, the value of being face-to-face cannot be underestimated.
So, the way I see it is about striking a balance. Take opportunities to meet face-to-face when it adds value but not for arbitrary reasons that can lead to a culture of presentism, and I believe this applies both when we are engaging internally and more broadly with the industry.
For this reason, the needs of our customers and stakeholders will guide how we approach the future of work. We recognise that not always meeting face to face saves time and money and supports lower carbon emissions – something we are passionate about – but we also want to provide options to collaborate face to face when it adds value. We are redesigning our offices to foster increased internal collaboration and hope to see this echoed when working with customers from across the industry. We are also going to continue to improve the technology we use to seamlessly allow multi-location/multi-organisation collaboration. A focus on collaboration and nurturing an environment to combine skills and resources from different market players is a progressive step to build on our success while WFH.
We achieved a lot in the past year despite not meeting in person for many months and collaboration with wider industry parties played a significant part in that success. We delivered EMPRIS – an exciting market insights platform making data analysis more accessible for Ofgem and others. We also delivered EMI services to many commercial and public sector organisations and completed the Flexr proof of concept for sharing network data.
In terms of ElectraLink’s headlining projects for spring and summer, we are continuing to develop EMPRIS with emerging AWS technologies to provide further benefits to BEIS and more users at Ofgem. We are also delivering more EMI services to the retail market, particularly through our APIs which give the market access to real-time data.
Our Governance Services team is going through a notable change as we look to expand our product offerings around theft and advisory. The National Revenue Protection Service (NRPS) has been on the backburner due to social distancing restrictions, but now suppliers’ field teams are looking to catch up on non-essential jobs that have accumulated over the latest lockdown. And our Advisory Services team is set to facilitate the regulatory and governance aspects of many industry projects which will progress as the immediate effects of the pandemic slip away.
I am already stuck into my new role with a ton of exciting developments calling my name, but I am also looking forward to discussing my vision and approaches with my industry colleagues. Get in touch with ElectraLink’s communications team at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can arrange a time to chat.
All the best,