Leadership Insights with Ed McManus
What is your current role at Powershop? How long have you been with the organisation?
My role is Chief Executive of Meridian Energy Australia and Powershop Australia. I started with the organisation in 2014 as the General Manager of Powershop, and was appointed CEO in 2016.
Which products and services does your business offer?
Basically, we generate and sell electricity. That means we also manage our customer’s energy risk to ensure they’re not exposed to volatile wholesale energy prices. We do this by balancing our generation capacity and retail business – Meridian Energy is Australasia’s largest renewable energy generator and supports Powershop Australia, our energy retail business, working across Victoria, New South Wales and South East Queensland.
What do you consider to be the strengths of your business in terms of faring in the market? (do you have any other competitive advantages)
The energy industry is particularly confusing and historically energy retailers have been distrusted. However, what makes Powershop unique is our mission to fight for fairness and transparency for our customers. From the way we do our pricing (all our residential customers get access to the same great deal in their area) to the work we do behind the scenes fighting for better energy policy.
This includes environmental fairness. For three years running we’ve been ranked Australia’s Greenest Power Company by Greenpeace and we’re the first and only power company in Australia to be 100% carbon neutral, at no extra cost to our customers.
In the end, our competitive advantage is our people. We’re a passionate and innovative group who are willing to try new things and push boundaries where others haven’t been willing to change the status quo. We are constantly dreaming up new ways to treat customers and the planet better.
What challenges are facing your organisation?
The industry can be confusing and historically many of our competitors haven’t done much to help customers navigate pricing and concepts. So we have a big job ahead of us in helping to lead the way in making the industry fairer.
What are your success habits?
Powershop prides itself on being an organisation with a positive culture around trying and failing. One of the benefits of being small is that we can move and adapt quickly, so if one of our staff has an idea for how to improve or something new we could be doing we’ll give it a go, and if it doesn’t work no big deal. I’ve always found I’ve learned more from my failures than from my successes. My advice would be try lots of stuff, and learn from what doesn’t work.
What business related podcasts or books are you listening to/reading?
I’ve just finished a book called On Grand Strategy by John Lewis Gaddis, which is about strategy lessons from pivotal events and people throughout history, including events from over two-and-a-half thousand years ago, which was very interesting.
Through your work what is your ultimate goal?
Our goal is to grow our Powershop retail business, which supports us to grow our generation business, which means more renewable energy in the Grid.
How do you achieve work-life balance?
Some may argue I have not achieved this yet. It’s a work in progress.
Where do you find inspiration?
I tend to read a lot of world history books, which helps inspire me to keep trying new things, and encouraging those around me to try thinking about something a different way or seeing where someone else has had a similar experience.
What are you most optimistic about?
Renewable energy in Australia. As I discussed in a recent TEDx talk in Melbourne – we’re in a really exciting time globally, so our ability to respond to a rapidly changing environment both in the Australian energy market and more generally in business is definitely something to be optimistic about. We’re now seeing the development of mass engagement between corporations, consumers demanding change, government and community groups. I’m optimistic but also realistic that the clock is ticking and there’s a lot of work ahead of us.
The MV Business+ catch cry is “Business as Unusual”. What’s the most unusual thing about your role/business?
Powershop’s culture of working together as a team, with a fairly flat operational structure helps it stand out from our competitors – we’re always keen to listen and learn from one another, which makes for a great work environment.
The museum is a place of wondrous discovery. What has been your most wondrous discovery of the past year?
I’m always pleasantly surprised when I read about the billions of people worldwide we have lifted out of extreme poverty in the last few decades.