MENTOR IN THE SPOTLIGHT: INTERVIEW WITH LOÏC DRIEBEEK
Loïc has been a mentor in the Rockstart Energy program for many years. He puts his experience as a CEO of a large Dutch multinational, active in worldwide energy distribution, to support companies venturing the energy transition. Loïc’s prime fields of experience are strategy, sustainability, customer focus and M&A.
Why did you choose to get into mentoring?
There are a couple of reasons why I chose to become a mentor. Probably the most important one is that I like to coach young, entrepreneurial and dynamic people, listening to them and trying to stimulate their spirit of entrepreneurship whilst protecting them from mistakes. In my career I have received a lot of help from people with far greater experience than I had and I feel it is my time to give back. And last but not least, converging a traditional energy distributor to a fossil free and sustainable energy consultant proves to be very hard. I am on the look-out for that new way of sustainable energy distribution from players coming from outside of the industry.
What are the key factors to a successful Energy startup team?
For me there are a few things that are very important in a team. A dream and the drive to achieve that dream is the first one I think of, to continue even when it seems impossible to succeed. The second is the members of the team and its composition: you want the team members to challenge themselves mutually, to be open and honest to each other, to help each other and to be complementary to each other. That should be true in the very beginning, but the environment of a start-up changes dramatically in a very short time. The composition of the team is also crucial once you prove to be successful and the company starts growing. And in the third place, certainly good strategic acumen combined with flexibility to weather the storms that will come.
What does an effective energy transition look like?
There is not one road that leads to effective energy transition. Unlike in the past when we basically relied on oil and gas for energy, we will now need many different forms to generate, store and transport energy. Some, like solar, wind, geothermal, hydrogen are there but need to be further perfected and new ways need to be found and developed. Preferably energy production should be local, to minimise loss of energy in transportation. Governments need to overhaul legislation away from the traditional ways of energy production, transport and storage to allow new ways of energy to develop. Vested interests from oil and gas majors and utilities try to stop these necessary developments and politicians need to dare to stand up to these interests. And governments need to stimulate innovation and entrepreneurship and to explain to society the urgent need for energy transition because of climate change.
How has the Covid 19 crisis affected this transition?
For me it is clear that Covid-19 is collateral damage coming from climate change. It is a wake-up call, this will happen more often and these kind of Black Swans have a devastating effect on people. I hope politicians worldwide find the courage to accelerate energy transition far more quickly than they planned. The good thing we learned now is that, when push comes to shove, societies can make very deep and dramatic changes, so why not apply the measures taken during this crisis to ban out fossil fuels within 10 years for instance? Covid-19 makes the costs for society for not changing very clear.
What are the main challenges in the energy transition?
The main challenges in the energy transition are quite a few. We need business and governments to work very closely together. We need the courage to give up some of our interests to the benefit of all. We need a great sense of urgency and we need leaders in business and in politics to say: “Wir schaffen das”! And we need to think out of the box. Personally, I have put my hopes on the younger generations to guide us to this new and fossil free world.
What is the biggest lesson you learned in your career, that you can pass onto emerging Energy startups?
The overriding lesson I learnt and that I would like to share with start-ups is the belief in people. Give trust and freedom to people to develop themselves and you will never be sorry, the award will be immense. The more responsibility you give, the happier people are and the better the organisation will work. It will bring team spirit, loyalty and resilience.
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