Utility Week

UTILITY Week 10th June 2016

Utility Week - authoritative, impartial and essential reading for senior people within utilities, regulators and government

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UTILITY WEEK | 10TH - 16TH JUNE 2016 | 23 Operations & Assets "Knowledge of what your team is doing as well as the game your opponents are playing is fundamental, not only in football but in the energy industry, too" Personal view Malvin Kamara H ave you ever watched the film Groundhog Day, in which Bill Murray plays an arrogant TV weather- man who finds himself in a time-loop, repeating the same day over and over again? If you strip away the cliches – improving his life for the better by making small changes following a series of hedonistic activities – the film actually resonates with me a great deal. Thankfully, I've never repeatedly woken up at 6am to Sonny and Cher's I Got You Babe, nor have I found myself in a never-ending time-loop and nor, for that matter, am I ever likely to. I have however, woken up day aer day, month aer month and found myself thinking 'this' really needs to change – and by 'this', I mean the energy industry. I come from the fast-paced, highly competitive, you're-only-as-good-as-your-last-game world of profes- sional football. You have to keep on your toes, train relentlessly, work as a team – always – and never settle for second best. You have to know your next move before your competitor, you have to be technically and tacti- cally brilliant and most importantly, you have to deliver. I've worked in energy for the past couple of years and I'll be the first to admit, it's worlds apart from life on the pitch. It's slow moving, behind the times, reactive and constricted by huge amounts of complex and oppressive rules. Companies can't innovate as they are completely restricted by red tape, talent comes and swily goes because it's totally underwhelmed by the size of the metaphorical sandpit it gets to play in. Customers are hardest hit by terrible service and rising bills – it's a dark, dark world. But every company, literally, has the power to turn the lights back on. It just feels like most of them have gone on to standby. Earlier this year, I was fed up of seeing this day in, day out, so I decided I needed to end the time- loop once and for all. I knew what needed to be done so I formed a talented team, worked out a game plan and then headed to the match with a winning attitude. The result of this is the launch of Vallum. I'm incred- ibly proud of how far we've come in the short time since we launched. The main aim for us is to help the energy industry out of its rut. We want to bring in new talent, on top of the fundamental operational know-how, to help companies innovate and force real competition within the sector. We've got an enviable pool of expe- rienced candidates on our books, just waiting for their next challenge. We also want to support and coach businesses through change – it's coming at them in spades, but most just aren't equipped to deal with it. This is the first time I've let my entrepreneurial spirit free; it's always been within me, but it's never been quite the right time to go for it. It's quite surprising, however, that I've found myself using nearly all of the skills I learnt on the pitch, as part of this process. But what are those skills, and how have kick-ups helped me in a world of kilowatts? There are of course the obvious ones that you need to be the best in any career you choose. Having the grit, determination, commitment, focus, technical under- standing and ability to work as part of a team, all stand you in good stead to succeed. But there are some other less obvious crossovers I find myself benefiting from. On the pitch you need tactical awareness and depend- ing on what position you play, a specialised skill-set. For instance, a typical player up front will need hawk-like vision, precision touch as well as the ability to second guess the next moves and make the right play. Knowledge of what your team is doing as well as the game your oppo- nents are playing is fundamental, not only in football but in business, too – it's the specialised ability to decon- struct your desired result into a series of tactical smaller moves. Knowing when to make a pass and when to stay in possession is oen what separates good players from great players. A friend once told me, people can copy what you've done, but they can never copy what you're going to do… it's true and it pays to be aware of that. You also can't underestimate how much being in good shape helps you to perform. I've maintained my level of fitness since leaving the game and it gives me the energy I need to deliver. I know you read it all over the place, but keeping up with the cardio genuinely helps reduce stress and gives you much needed time to wind up or wind down your day. Finally, the ethos of dreaming big and never giving up is something I learnt from a young age. When I was six, I dreamt like many others of playing professional football. It sounds cliched and it is, but from that point in my life I never stopped trying, I kept my eye focused on the prize and I eventually, aer a lot of hard work, made it happen. I fundamentally believe anything is possible if you bring the right attitude. Right now, energy is stuck in a time-loop and it needs progressive thinking and innova- tion to break the cycle. My question to you is – are you going to relive today over and over again, or are you going to make a small change, for a better tomorrow? Malvin Kamara, founder, Vallum Associates

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