On the latest episode of The Alan Turing Podcast, James is joined by Nick Proctor, Founder & CEO of Amber Energy, an award-winning energy management company transforming the way businesses engage with energy.
Nick is also the founder of Power2Africa, a not-for-profit organisation working to provide power to rural communities in Africa. You can check out their projects and learn more about how to get involved here.
“We’re trying to build a cohort of businesses that are serious about net-zero and want to get there by 2030. We’re looking to create leadership in this space so that people have some businesses to look at as examples, so our mission at the moment is very much building up that group of businesses and steering them on a pathway towards net-zero.”
“We’re looking to see how we can have wider impacts as well. So some of the work we do takes us into a space where rather than just offsetting and not really knowing what’s happening with those offsets, we like to partner up with organisations, like The Turing Trust, and really build something that has an impact.”
“Going back to around 2018, we started to look a little bit ahead and realised that the type of projects that you could do in the UK for offsetting or for having a wider social impact with fundraising and other aspects didn’t necessarily lead to anything that was really tangible. So what we were looking at was: How can we have a quicker and more prevalent impact? And how can we impact society and people as well as the planet? And what we came up with was: well, there are a billion people without access to power in the world. And for us, when we were sitting at work thinking about the idea of no power, we then immediately thought: “With no power, you’ve probably not got great access to opportunities. You’ve probably not got great access to education. And the real belief that we had at the time was that if you had power and you had education, you could ultimately, find ways to carve your future. But without them, it would be fairly impossible. So, on that reflection, we decided to do something about it. We decided that we would create Power2Africa and try to find ways in which we could create small epicentres, where people had access to clean power and education, where they could change the future.”
“As I went into my initial career path – which was actually into the world of banking – I couldn’t help but feel quite a long way from my purpose. And when it got to 2009 and the banking world was somewhat being slapped in the face by Joe Public, and quite rightly so, I think that that was enough for me to think: “Actually, I want to be doing something that has a real purpose, that fulfils me and makes me feel that I’m having a positive impact on things.” And I had to think of a way to take the knowledge I had built up into a practical environment where I was going to have a positive impact on the planet. And energy was where I landed.”
“I think that during that Covid period, I grew a tremendous amount because I very much had to become a new type of leader, had become somebody that would find a way in the virtual world to give people the reassurance that somebody was there delivering change and growth for the organisation, or at the very least, looking after the place and making sure that there was going to be there when they came back and turned the lights on six months later.
That was not an easy thing to do. And I found myself really digging deep to find the energy and the courage sometimes to go into the week and be that positive, strong figure for people to look to and get courage from.”
“Everyone was going through something. And over time you sort of realised that that wasn’t unique to Covid. Mental health, feelings of anxiety, are regulars. They’re not things that exclude themselves from impacting people at the top, nor excluding themselves from impacting people at the bottom. Everybody is impacted in some way by their mental health. And I think we’ve just become an organisation that is on that journey of being more comfortable, talking about how we feel and if we’re feeling anxious about how we’re going to handle that, and I think that’s important in this new virtual world because it’s quite an imperfect world. And making sure that we don’t lose that human touch and that we’re in touch with how we feel is certainly something that we need to manage.”
“I think it would be quite socially unacceptable, when I’m 80, to eat the amounts of meat that we ate and to travel with the type of cars we had and to travel in the way we did around the world. I think we’ll all reflect on that and be somewhat embarrassed by that. Right now, we’re going through a decade that will determine a lot about the future. So I think we will see a huge transformational change. A huge amount of money is clearly coming into environmental change, and what we can now look to see is that by 2030, a large proportion of businesses will be net-zero. That a large number of homes would also be net-zero. That we would have retrofitted a huge amount of buildings, and that transport will be well on its way to filling like a population of electric vehicle drivers and so forth.”