Richard Rodgers

Richard-Rogers-Background-removed Richard Rodgers is the Commercial Business Development Director for Carillion Energy Services (CES). Previously, he headed up Eaga’s heating and international division. He was also Business Development Director with Phoenix Natural Gas. Richard is a graduate of Queen’s University and has an MBA from Edinburgh University Management School.

Please describe your career to date.
I left Northern Ireland in 1987 in search of work. There weren’t too many jobs for graduates at the time and after doing an MSc in Stats and Operational Research, I joined British Gas as a ‘mature’ graduate trainee; my first boss was younger than me. I worked for three years in Manchester, then three more in Edinburgh with Scottish Gas before moving to British Gas trading HQ in Staines, west of London.

After nearly 10 years away from Northern Ireland I returned at the end of 1996 to work in the new private start-up of the natural gas business in Greater Belfast. I really hadn’t expected, when starting in the gas business in England some nine years earlier, that I would get the opportunity to be part of the growth of the same industry back at home. Like most people in small dynamic new companies I ended up doing a lot of different things including business planning, regulation, gas procurement, advertising, marketing and public relations.

Phoenix Natural Gas used to roll me out when bad news stories of price hikes were announced. During these occasions there were a few public arguments with in particular the Consumer Council. Generally, though, it was a successful time with industry, commerce and domestic households gaining access to a fuel that is the ‘bridge to sustainable renewable energy’.

It had a very positive impact on fuel poverty with many lower income households converting from solid fuel to the more efficient and affordable natural gas.

For the past three years now I have been back on the road working for a business that is now one of the leading energy services providers in the UK and Ireland. It’s exciting times for low-carbon development as we try and remove our unhealthy reliance on fossil fuels, where we are always price-takers based on the demand from the rapidly growing economies in places like China, India and Brazil.

What does your role within Carillion involve?
At CES, I am responsible for the growth of business for both the domestic and non- domestic sectors. Our customer base includes government, social housing providers, major energy suppliers, commercial businesses and private households.

We now offer energy services to homeowners on behalf of other companies, through affinity agreements. For example, over the last 12 months we delivered over 6,000 insulation upgrades to low income households, on behalf of Power NI (formerly NIE Energy).

We continue to be a trusted partner of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, responsible for looking after the heating systems of 43,000 tenants and carrying out building response work for around 14,000 homes. In the past 10 years we have installed 30,000 heating systems in homes across the country.

What will Carillion’s acquisition of Eaga mean for Northern Ireland? What are the group’s main priorities?
CES employs around 4,500 people (Carillion itself employs 45,000 people across the world) and has the objective of being the leading independent energy services provider in Ireland and the UK.

Carillion itself is the UK and Ireland’s largest support services companies offering asset and facilities management and maintenance services for property and infrastructure. In Northern Ireland our objective remains the same: to deliver sustainable living by providing both energy efficiency and efficient lower carbon energy and water solutions.

We are focusing both on improving living conditions for households in Northern Ireland – making homes warmer and more affordable to heat – and on helping industry reduce its energy costs. What distinguishes CES is our ability to deliver at genuine scale and sharing the savings delivered by the economies of scale with our customers.

What are the main challenges for Carillion?
Success in the evolving ‘green’ space will be driven by new and improving technology, finding ways of changing behaviour at an individual and community level, and actions which secure the most efficient use of resources.

It doesn’t matter whether you are a climate change believer or sceptic. What is a fact is that we have been combusting in seconds for heat and power a fuel that has taken millions of years to produce. This cannot go on forever and therefore finding a sustainable way forward for energy such that each generation consumes and replenishes at the same rate is the greatest challenge facing us today.

In the context of these challenges, being a market leader means building an organisation inspired by innovation. Our culture is therefore all about empowering our people, ensuring that they always look for new ideas, find different ways of delivering services and are continually seeking solutions.

Have you any mentors or people you particularly admire?
Growing up I admired Mary Peters, Brendan Foster – bronze medalist in the Montreal Olympics in 1976 over 5000m – then Steve Ovett, Seb Coe, Eamon Coghlan and Steve Cram. Yip, while everyone else in the estate was mad on George Best, I was mad on athletics and have retained that passion over the past 40 years.

What has that got to do about business? A lot. The discipline of planning and executing a long-term training plan is much like business. Without a living and breathing plan, businesses are much more likely to fail.

I also remember (sad as it might seem) a Money Programme from 35 years ago that profiled Alan Sugar and latterly he has developed a very high profile – but 40 years ago he went to Japan to secure manufacturing partnerships in his mid- twenties when ‘the mould’ said he should have been at least 20 years older. I admire entrepreneurial spirit as it creates prosperity and wealth that when channelled correctly benefits the whole community.

What are your main interests outside work?
I live in County Down, have two daughters, Jana (16) and Nadia (14), who both attend Shimna Integrated College in Newcastle. I’m a big supporter of the integrated education movement and Shimna is a comprehensive school that delivers great results.

My partner Kerry Harty is an Irish international athlete who has ambitions to make the Olympic Games. I’m also her coach, so no pressure there.

Finding the right balance in modern life is the ‘holy grail’ and I’m definitely not there yet but working hard at it.

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