According to the World Green Building Council, buildings are responsible for 39% of global energy-related carbon emissions – 28% from operating them, and 11% from materials and construction.
Often hailed as the world’s most sustainable company, Michael Lotfy Gierges clearly has his hands full leading the Home and Distribution Division at energy management specialists Schneider Electric, tasked with making buildings greener and cleaner. On top of that mammoth task, Gierges is also the youngest executive at the company running a global business division, so just how does he manage?
Here, Lofty Gierges speaks exclusively to Business Chief about his role, his strategy, and his belief in a brighter electric future.
What unique skills, experience and expertise do you bring to this role?
I have dedicated most of my life to working within the building automation and systems industry. It is something I have massive love and passion for.
I believe people are any company’s greatest asset. My work across all four corners of the globe has meant I have had the pleasure of working with people from a diverse range of cultures. Leveraging human potential by providing the right environment in which to learn and grow has become a core principle of my leadership style and it’s something I am fostering in my new role at Schneider Electric.
What are the driving forces for Schneider Electric in doubling down on the potential for electrifying the home?
The converging energy and climate crises have brought the way we consume energy to the forefront of people’s minds. We are now at an inflection point.
We’ve seen more than 70% of consumers change their energy habits at home in response to the energy crisis. It’s important that this isn’t just a short-term reaction, but a sustained lifestyle change that can help futureproof our homes and our planet.
We need to better control our energy use if we want to conserve money, energy, and the way we live. Learning more about how our home uses energy is the first step towards doing this. Then, it entails utilising new technologies to control our usage and spending.
The 'Electricity 4.0' energy transition exemplifies how we can all live in 'Homes of the Future'.
Consumers might often feel disillusioned in the battle against climate change. But there are options available today that give consumers the tools they need to fight back.
What do you see as the biggest opportunities in this market? And the biggest challenges?
Today, we have the power to make a huge contribution to the fight against climate change. Our homes are full of electrical devices, but they don’t always work intelligently. Our energy demand is becoming increasingly complex.
Our homes need innovative technology that can help us manage our generation, storage, and use of electricity. A single ‘hack’ that ensures our electrified devices are working harmoniously, gives us a birds-eye view of their progress, and even makes automatic improvements on our behalf.
However, changing consumer behaviour is one of the most difficult tasks to overcome. Many individuals want to live more sustainably, but they don’t realise that they can take action to decarbonise, without sacrificing comfort.
Homes are a critical part of the solution to combatting climate change. We will continue to champion that message by educating partners and customers. We will make access to future energy and sustainable homes available to all through our technological solutions.
You are the youngest global executive in Schneider Electric history. Is this one of your biggest career achievements?
Actually, I did not recognise this until someone told me. It is not how my brain is programmed. I come from a humble background, born in Egypt, so I am incredibly grateful to be where I am today, but I think I am just starting.
I still have a ton of energy and much more passion to share, so I want to continue building great teams, with great cultures that build great and disruptive innovations that help mankind. That is my ultimate goal – to create a legacy to be proud of.
What do you see as your greatest leadership strength?
One of my biggest passions is for people. Throughout my career, whether that’s building a business or building a team within a larger organisation, the success of your mission depends entirely on the people you have around you.
My focus is on empowering my team, getting buy-in and galvanising people to make connections and work in close cooperation across teams. We consistently see that teams that know and trust in one another are better motivated to achieve more.
A company’s greatest asset is its people. People from diverse backgrounds and different walks of life; people that feel appreciated, included and well taken care of; people that feel that there is a meritocracy of good work, talent and culture and nothing else.
What advice would you give your younger self just starting out in the industry?
Keep on learning and listening! I have had the immense pleasure to work with so many incredible people over my career. There is nothing I value more than spending time learning from colleagues and friends.
Your capacity to learn and cultivating a mindset that is open to new ideas is crucial to your growth. So, if I was to speak to my younger self, I’d say to make the most of the learning opportunities around you, even when the tough gets tougher, get tougher! The adversities you face will truly make you stronger.
And finally, what keeps you awake at night? And conversely, what gets you up in the morning?
The climate crisis is more present than ever. We have all just experienced some of the hottest days in recorded history. Like so many people around the world, the patterns of environmental breakdown are obvious and increasingly concerning.
The challenge we all face is immense but not insurmountable. For the first time ever, we have the mindset and the technology to make a change, and the hope that we can all make a difference is what energises me in the morning. Also, knowing I am going to work with a team – well actually, more like a family – of people who deeply care about the work they are doing and confident of the difference they want to make in the world.
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