PowerGen's Haydn I Furlonge explains the attributes of great leaders and what it takes to inspire change.
The way Haydn I Furlonge, General Manager of the Power Generation Company of Trinidad and Tobago Limited (PowerGen) sees things, the energy sector is in desperate need of transition. And the shift to sustainable energy is not simply an imperative, but "overdue".
Trinidad and Tobago’s economy has been based on oil and gas exploitation, and Haydn believes that "sustainable power has to be a key enabler for bringing about socioeconomic change".
"PowerGen is a key player in the power sector and my drive is to position PowerGen to be a key agent for energy transition in Trinidad and Tobago," he says.
"My drive is to position PowerGen to be a key agent for energy transition."
"Adoption of renewable and alternative energy technologies will create new jobs. There needs to be a lot more emphasis on answers to questions like, ‘How do we utilise energy more efficiently? How do we conserve energy in all our processes? How do we utilise waste (heat) as a viable resource?’
"The biggest challenge is mobilising all stakeholders to effect the energy transition that needs to take place, because power generation is just one element in the whole energy value chain," Haydn points out.
"It involves fuel suppliers, customers, regulators, government agencies, policymakers, lending institutions and, of course, our shareholders and workforce in the Company.
"So you have to bring the perspectives of all these stakeholders in alignment. You need the will, right resources and the capability to be able to achieve this."
Bringing out the best in employees
With more than 20 years of experience in the energy sector, Haydn has spent enough time around other leaders in different parts of the world to figure out what works best when it comes to managing and inspiring change.
"People talk about leadership and great leaders, but I try to focus on everyone else," he says. "Great leaders, at the end of the day, rely on great followers. You can’t become a great leader by yourself. Put another way, in the workplace setting you need people who are leaders in their own right, and that's a message I try to inculcate."
"Motivated people at all levels are what make great companies."
In terms of his strategies for managing, Haydn believes that "motivated people at all levels are what make great companies; creating an environment where people know what they are collectively aiming for, and that the aim is worth it. They see how they can contribute, and do so in a workplace that is safe and conducive to new ideas."
A joint effort
Over the decades since its inception in 1994, PowerGen has established itself as the longest-serving independent power producer in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
"The Company has the expertise and know-how," Haydn says. "We have the assets on the ground to be able to continue to generate high quality energy, and to do so in a safe and environmentally responsible manner."
"Reliability is our business card – that doesn’t happen overnight. We have a very dedicated and diligent workforce and have been keeping pace with technology."
Indeed, Haydn reveals that he often reflects back on the state of electricity supply when he was a child, when it was "not as reliable, and the nights when one would have to turn on a kerosene lamp to finish one’s school homework due the next day."
Today, in contrast, he says if we find ourselves without electricity for even a few minutes, it can feel like an eternity, which is why the employees of PowerGen pride themselves on doing everything they can and always willing to "go beyond the call of duty."
An integral component to PowerGen is the unique set of shareholders, comprising the Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission (T&TEC), MaruEnergy Trinidad, LLC, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Marubeni Corporation of Japan, and NEL Power Holdings, which is a subsidiary of National Enterprises Limited (NEL), who, Haydn says, share a mutual vision and support in ways that ensure the success of the Company.