In my early days in renewable energy Good Energy were one of the few companies out there providing customers with clean energy to the consumer. They were a pioneer and inspiration as I co-founded my solar business. Now, many years later I have had the opportunity to have CEO and Founder Juliet Davenport share her founding story, and much more besides. An engaging and passionate climate activist, entrepreneur and climate scientist makes for an interesting story and set of experiences. I hope you enjoy the episode.
About Juliet Davenport
Juliet is the Founder and a Non-Executive Director of Good Energy Group plc – a renewable energy company with a mission to power a greener, cleaner future together with its customers.
Juliet was Good Energy’s CEO for 19 years, working on ideas to fight climate change and transform the energy sector for the better. In 2013, she was awarded an OBE for services to renewables.
She currently sits on the board of the Renewable Energy Association and Innovate UK and is Vice President of the Energy Institute. In July 2020 she was appointed as a new board member of The Crown Estate.
In addition, she sits on the advisory boards of leading UK think tanks, including Energy Systems Catapult, Aurora, Oxford Energy, and LSE’s Grantham Institute.
Juliet has various scholastic credentials with academic organisations, including University of Wales, Imperial College, Bristol University, Birkbeck and LSE, where she has various roles and accolades, with the ambition of influencing the next generation to think about the energy transition and our low carbon future.
Juliet is passionate about creating a business that does good; one that can deliver the needs of society in a purposeful way. As part of this vision, she is working with the British Academy’s Future of the Corporation project, thinking about a better future.
About Good Energy:
Good Energy is a generator and supplier of 100% renewable power and an innovator in energy services. It currently owns two wind farms, six solar farms and sources electricity from a community of 1,600 independent UK generators. It has over 250,000 home and business customers.
Since it was founded 20 years ago by Juliet Davenport, the company has been at the forefront of the charge towards a cleaner, distributed energy system. Its mission is to support UK households and businesses generate, store and share clean power.
- Personal website https://julietdavenport.com
- Twitter https://twitter.com/DavenportJuliet
- LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/juliet-davenport-643564
- Instagram https://www.instagram.com/davenport.juliet/
About Hyperion Executive Search:
Hyperion are a specialist executive search firm working with some of the most innovative cleantech companies in the world, helping to find extraordinary talent to enable their growth and success. Partnering with leading cleantech VCs, as well as directly with founders and entrepreneurs in the sector. With our clients we are transforming business and growing a strong and prosperous cleantech economy.
If you want to grow your team, or move forward your career, visit www.hyperionsearch.com, or email email@example.com
- How I built this podcast – Guy Raz https://www.npr.org/podcasts/510313/how-i-built-this
- Great Green Questions podcast – Juliet Davenport https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/great-green-questions/id1557916383
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David Hunt 0:32
Hello, I’m David Hunt, CEO and founder of Hyperion executive search and your host for the reason clean tech podcast. This week my guest is a climate scientists successful renewable energy entrepreneur and fellow podcast host. I’m delighted to be joined by Juliet Davenport. Julia is the founder former CEO and current non exec director of the good energy Group plc, a company that Juliet took public with a mission to power, greener, cleaner future energy for all its customers. Judy, it was good energy co for 19 years. In 2013, she was awarded an OBE for services to renewables. She currently sits on the board of the Renewable Energy Association and innovate UK and is vice president of Energy Institute. In July 2020, she was appointed as a new board member for the crown estate. She was also the host of the Great Green questions podcast. I hope you enjoyed the episode. Hello, and welcome to the leaders in clean tech podcast. Julia, it’s great to have you join me. Hi, David, lovely to meet lovely to see you too. Good good listeners. There’s lots to get through. But as is traditional, if we could perhaps begin with good energy where you spend a bulk of your time creating the company, a company in many ways ahead of its time, certainly a pioneer. Perhaps you can share a little bit of your background prior to founding the company, and then how and why you actually started good energy.
Juliet Davenport 1:50
So yeah, so it’s, it’s, it’s interesting. So I guess I started life. I grew up in a very high carbon world. My father was a rallying co driver, international rally and co driver. So I spent a lot of time either on the side of in the middle of a wealth forest watching grow fast cars go past, or, actually later on, he then ran touring cars. So on the side of a racetrack were very noisy cars, and lots of emissions. So it wasn’t necessarily the route most environmentalist might take. But I then went to University and University I studied physics, there are many routes, you can go and physics. But in my third year, I got to study solid state, which is really typical, but also atmospheric physics. And atmospheric physics was where I founded my interest in climate change. understood the science behind it understood that this was a situation that we needed to do something about, and then spent a while to be honest, trying to figure out how to get into the sector, because the sector didn’t really exist. At that point. It was very academic, and very policy driven, so that I stood there going, I didn’t know what to do. And I don’t know how to do this, to be honest at that point. And I then did various jobs. I was attempt for a while and then ended up with a full time job in sports PR, which isn’t a normal route into climate and climate science. I worked in a hotel for a while, which was an IT Caribbean hotel, that was an interesting experience very good for ones building up of emotional intelligence. I did some teaching to teach maths and physics for a while. And then I did an internship in the European Commission on energy policy. And that was really, when my kind of founding views on energy and the overall energy situation sort of started to really come to the fore and actually worked on gas and pipeline investment strategies and security supply. So looking at all the generation across lots of European countries, how they were doing it, and what it meant from a political point of view. But that was kind of my way in, I guess. And then then I started when I left the commission, I started I did actually work in European Parliament for a short period time and carbon taxation. So I know a reasonable amount about carbon taxation as well. And then I ended up working for renewable consultancy, and a lot of that was very tech driven. So it was very much about the technical potential of all these different technologies in 30 European countries. And a lot of time, it just never mentioned consumers or customers. It never considered the end user of these products. It just considered the output of them. And I think the energy sector has been like that for quite a while in that sort of early stages. When I saw the energy markets, a lot of the CEOs were talking about delivering paths people’s metres, not to people’s homes. And the what was on the other side of the metre was kind of irrelevant. It was a standardised, you just assumed all consumers were the same. And of course they’re not. And I think that was, it was the combination of climate change understanding renewable technology, and what what potential it had. And then seeing the opportunity that there was a consumer gap was really where my founding idea in terms of trying to do something on climate change. And I met an investor who very much shared the same, same vision. So he was he had raised money in Germany to do something similar in Germany. And so he invested in the idea and I led that project in the UK. And in fact, I didn’t actually run the company, I hired people than to run it. Because I didn’t know David, I was, I been a teacher, I’ve been an intern, I didn’t know how to run and set up a company. So I kind of did it for the sidelines, almost. And I hired a chairman, we hired a CEO. And eventually, it was a little while before I then took over. And actually, it was it was when the German investor went bust. And the and the existing CEO went in a different direction that I refounded good, in a sense, right around 202. So it’s, it was it was it was an interesting journey. And I don’t think any entrepreneurs can ever say that they’re their firt, that early stage of their journey is as they planned, because it so isn’t.
David Hunt 6:33
Yeah, no, absolutely. No. Yeah, absolutely. And also, I think was really great. I mean, you I think this is about the 70 must be approaching the 80th episode, and no, two founding stories are the same in terms of how the entrepreneur got to be, where were they, yeah, where they started. And as you say, nobody’s journey is ever, ever linear, or as expected, but it is really interesting to say you kind of almost, you know, an entrepreneur or a business leader by not words or by accident, necessarily, but by certainly not by, you know, complete design.
Juliet Davenport 7:06
No, no, no, I didn’t go out there and get an MBA. And I didn’t, I kind of, I was really about the science. That’s where it started. I mean, I did look and see whether I could get should go into science. But to be honest, I don’t think that’s where my forte was, policy was fascinating. And it policy still fascinates me today. Because obviously, it creates a framework for businesses to operate in. And if you get the policy, right, then the businesses will come. So policy still influences the energy market hugely in the UK, which is why good has been so involved in it over the last 20 years. But actually, running a business is incredibly creative. And I think I didn’t have the confidence to actually set it up and run it myself initially. But after a while, I saw that it wasn’t rocket science. And it’s you. As long as you’re up for learning and understanding what business can do and how you can run it and what structure it needs. And you’ve got some great advisors, then actually, it’s really freeing because you can be incredibly creative, and come up with new propositions. So I mean, we we did a crowdfunding before crowdfunding was a thing we didn’t really think of it, we just did it. We gamified all our original terrorist before we really understood what gamify was, we just dis made it work. And so that’s what you do at those early pioneering stages, is just make things happen to make sure that you can deliver a proposition that you think consumers are going to want.
David Hunt 8:38
Yeah, I think that sometimes it’s really helpful to actually not know what you can and can’t do or what’s doable. I think too often. If you don’t know what’s possible, then why don’t you just go out and do it. And I think that’s, I think sometimes they’re quite a healthy way to be creative and not to be stymied by the textbook kind of routes to, to do anything
Juliet Davenport 8:57
completely. And I think that’s when you try and make sure you surround yourselves by good advisors, whether it’s a board or whether it’s a sort of mentor, somebody to give you to give you the freedom to be able to create, because that’s what you absolutely need. But at the same time, making sure you’ve got those real tipping points are those real sort of bear traps that you can avoid? Because that’s, that’s what you need. You need to be able to navigate to have the freedom to create but navigate some of the big problems. And I’m in the early stages. There was a period when the the German company went into an administration. We were very close at that point. And you learn first of all, you learn very fast at that point. And secondly, you need somebody who’s got a steady hand who knows what to do in those situations. And that’s definitely we had a great board for that at the time who kept us on the straight and narrow.
David Hunt 9:56
Yeah, yeah, I think you’ve had a blast. You say to have people who have I’ve been there and seen and done things and you can learn from their mistakes and experiences and grey hairs and wisdom and all the rest of it. And I think that’s interesting, whatever stage of company you are to have, whether it’s personal mentors and or sort of board or business advisors that can help you through those crises, which come to contrast at times.
Juliet Davenport 10:23
Completely, and I think those are the The trick is not to ask your boards or your advisors to do your job. The trick is to get them to mentor and help you and support you and be there for you when you need it. But at the same time, it is it is the CEOs responsibility, or the founders responsibility to get on and deliver the products that you need.
David Hunt 10:47
Yeah, yeah. So what were some of your biggest challenges then at that time, because as you say, you weren’t necessarily you know, a trained CEO, as such. You had good advisors around you. But on a personal view, having stepped from sort of an eclectic career to date, what were some of the sort of the personal challenges in those early years that were standard?
Juliet Davenport 11:09
Yeah. So there were definitely certain things that came easier to me, I mean, anything that included a spreadsheet and figuring out, sort of the commerciality of propositions, how you could communicate things, how you could develop new ideas, all of that was pretty straightforward. For me, I found that that very simple. I think the things I found more tricky was understanding a balance sheet and what were the important was and how investors would look at a business. And some of the more kind of accounting treatments of a business. Those are probably the areas that I knew very little about at the beginning. I mean, you don’t just pick those up generally, as you as you wander through life, those are something you actually need to put some effort into and to learn. So I think that was, that was part of it. And, but but the rest, I mean, is fairly, if you know the area, you know, the technologies. I guess I had an innate sense of consumer. That again, I mean, but but consumer research, you discover a lot, but also, I think, sometimes just listening to customers being on the end of a phone being part of a call centre, just hearing what they’re saying. And I think that came fairly naturally to me as well.
David Hunt 12:32
Yeah, I mean, so much has changed in this period of time. On one hand, things like customer experience, where we’re so much now more focused on a being able to collect that data and have those conversations or be actually far more aware of what happens on the other side of the metre, as you put it. But equally, the the energy and technology world has changed significantly. I found my solar business in 2007. And obviously, we were kind of viewed as hippies. At the time with no idea about business and clear this was before feed in tariffs and all the rest of it now good energy at the time were in existence. And they were quite an inspiration at the time, just thinking that there were there are people who can create a business in this sector. But clearly the company sorry, the sector as a whole has evolved so fast and so dramatically over that 10 1220 year period. How is good energy evolved, again, from those early stages of not sure what your customer base was in the first couple of years, but but clearly now, it’s not just a listed company, but it’s a sort of anything, a store water of the clean energy market?
Juliet Davenport 13:35
Yeah. So I think I think in those early days, right at the beginning, when we were going through our ups and downs with our investor, it was we had about two 3000 customers. So we were super small. And that was one of the reasons why why we were sort of trying to figure out what is the business model going forwards. And I guess, we were just an electricity business as well. So we were 100% pure electricity, business. And we then started to I guess, we diversified into business customers as well. Early on, but but not seriously. So we we they were about 10 or maybe 20% of our total customer base in that within the first 10 years is only till recently where really we’ve accelerated business customers, as we’ve seen, the demand for business customers come forward with ESG and the UN targets and a lot of businesses really take you going on the front foot of setting themselves zero carbon target. So that that’s been an evolution. We also we did we ended with by 2008. We were selling gas and part of the reason for that was our customers wanted to buy both fuels from us. And we recognise that the gas was obviously a fossil. But so we looked at how can we support other areas. So we looked Supporting solar thermal. We supported biomass heating systems in the UK. And we did some offsetting. So we tried to really promote renewable heat in the UK as well as being able to gas. And then I think the feed in tariff was, we were early stage, and we set up home Gen, which was that original way that people who generated power in their own homes could get value for that power. Because at the time, a lot of the big players were just cutting off small generators. And we saw a marketplace in that and pioneered that. And I guess, we have what we had about 1000, small generators at that point. And today, we’ve got nearly 200,000. So that’s been a major part of the business. And really important to us, actually. Because the whole point of good is to promote a future where we build more renewables. I mean, that’s, that’s what we’re about. And then we did actually invest in doing our own generation. So I think between 2012 and 2000, when we bought delabar, back in 2004. So we always operated a renewable side, but we then we developed about 150 megawatts of solar and wind assets between 2012 and 2016. So that was, yeah, I mean, it was it was it was it was a crazy time. But that was also incredibly interesting to see what the barriers were to getting some of these sites away, but also, what really worked. And we we had a pretty, I think we had 100% planning records at that point. And it was a lot of consumer engagement, it was finding great sites, getting out there, getting people getting passionate people on the road, talking to people. And that was really exciting.
David Hunt 16:52
I guess sharing is a theme that’s come across we include new CEOs and founders come in all shapes and sizes, and rightly so and but but there are many who are kind of very happy behind the desk in the sort of almost like conducting fashion. There are others who want to get in amongst the weeds. It sounds like you’ve been very much. But the latter in terms of particular with customer engagement.
Juliet Davenport 17:11
Yeah, I mean, I think I think what you try and do as a CEO, and that’s what I’ve tried to do over the years is to, you need to empower people to do things. But you also need to understand the dynamics of the business, the dynamics of what’s what’s going on, either in the energy markets or in consumers homes, because that’s how you can really support and challenge your teams to go well, are we doing enough for these consumers? are we are we challenging ourselves? We can’t just go down the computer says no route, we have to kind of think outside the box and go, if we can’t do it that way, can we do it this way? And, and I think, as a CEO, your job is to try and stay at 50 to 30,000 feet. But occasionally you do have to go in and have a look. And the more I meet kind of CEOs who’ve really been involved in inhibitive businesses, that seems to be a case, you can’t you can’t just stay up at the top you have to to look go deep as well.
David Hunt 18:12
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So in terms of the the growth and one thing that challenges CEOs and founders during the course of growth, fast growth is challenging, and it’s expensive, and it’s hard to manage. So fundraising typically becomes an issue, whether that’s through VCs early on PE and of course, there was the option of listing which is again, quite favourable at the moment, because of the market conditions. But you chose to list at a time when Pepsi wasn’t quite so easy to do. So as a renewable energy company, what led you to choose that as a way of funding growth future growth?
Juliet Davenport 18:45
Well, it’s interesting, because essentially, we were, we did three crowd funds, maybe it was in for a court member. And we, the majority, I would say about 75% of the company was actually owned by our customer base, as a result of that. So we were quite unique. And we looked at lots of different models in terms of what the future model could be, we did look at the cooperative model, because obviously, we were partially customer owned. That was actually what was fascinating about the corporate model, it was very difficult to transfer a business with a public makeup as we were to become a co op, and even harder than to go and raise money when you needed it to invest in the business. And it was, it was fascinating because carp seem to work very well. If you weren’t in that real dynamic stage, if you were kind of a big, existing organised organisation. But if you were like us, then it didn’t work. So we kind of we looked at we did talk to some PA, we talked to various other organisations, but a lot of them didn’t really have a long term vision. So I remember having a conversation with one private equity, which is basically saying, well, we want to drag and tag right which meant that they could force us to sell out to the company within two For years, and we, our vision was to create this long term market not to create a business that there was going to be sold. So listing felt like the best option at that point. And I have to say it has its downside in the sense that it’s it’s expensive, takes quite a lot of time. And the CEO needs to spend a lot of time with investors. So it does, it did change my role. And sometimes I regretted that because like, I stopped being the, the inventor in the corner, I ended up having to go out and and be the best, but I learned a huge amount from the investigators as well. I mean, they when they challenge they blink look, bring lots of insight. And that that’s why we enter we raised money on on the that as a platform aim as a platform. But at the same time, and we were probably my most successful fundraising was through a green bombs that we issued, we were doing the the original investment and in developing assets. So but the other thing that is quite interesting about running a listed company is that you you, you do focus on governance, and sometimes that feels a bit heavy for a small business. But I also think that it gives you a certain amount of discipline, as an organisation, and you stay on the right side of things, and you make sure that you’re not suddenly cruising into it sort of a bit of an argument with your auditors, you do it, you do have to talk a lot about what you’re doing. But at the same time, there’s no surprises. And I I think that was that was really quite good. And I think I really appreciated that. And I think I think as a result, the business has always been very well run.
David Hunt 21:48
I think that’s an interesting thought, actually, I think for all entrepreneurs, it’s great to have that freedom. And the reason a lot of us do it is because you know, you are in control, you know, to some extent, and you do have that sort of creative urge to be able to be, I guess, agile in your thought processes. But I think countability whatever that looks is really important, whether that’s from a mentor, a board or actually say from from investors that like sometimes it’s good to be kept reasonably on track, as long as it doesn’t stifle the business too much. Yeah, great. Yeah. And also, I think the interesting point, though, as soon as you start to take on board external money, and again, however, that looks whether that’s crowdfunding, VCP, or listing, both your role as a founder CEO changes dramatically, and sort of the amount of time that then is allocated to those relationships, as opposed to what you were doing before, which perhaps again, was a bit more creative.
Juliet Davenport 22:42
Yeah, and I think that’s, that’s a real Watch out for a CEO, because you just need to go into that with your eyes wide open. And you need to consider whether whether either you should change your role, or, or you need to invest heavily in Investor Relations and have somebody who can really lead that for you, and support it so that you don’t have to spend. It’s not that you don’t talk to investors, but but you with a specialist Investor Relations role, they can think about the story that you’re telling. And, and that’s, that’s always quite tricky. Sometimes fdws are brilliant at doing that. And it falls back on the CEO, which means that you end up doing a lot of that. So I think it’s, I think, when I look back on it, to be honest, by the time we by the time I stepped down, I think we sorted it. And we kind of we got there, we had a great story to tell to the city, we had a great sort of head of investor relations, he was fantastic, and was brilliant, just making sure that I could tell the story and it added up all the way through effortlessly, without me having to kind of really dig in and ask a lot of questions at the afternoon.
David Hunt 23:50
Yeah, super, I think a couple of the challenges for founders here, one we’ve touched on there, which is fundraising, and then that how that changes the nature of the role. But now you’ve stepped down. And again, that’s the other thing of how you step away from the baby that you bought or created. That’s it, you’ve exited. Appreciate. You’re still in any D but how challenging was that for you to make that decision? And how have you found letting go the reins to an empowered CEO?
Juliet Davenport 24:18
Yeah, well, it’s interesting. I mean, I think it’s still part of the way through it To be honest, David, but we’ll see how it goes. I mean, I don’t see it as a baby anymore. I mean, it’s 20 years old, it’s got smelly socks, it’s quiet, I’d be quite happy for it to go and wash its own smelly socks. And so it’s a kind of teenager grown I’ve gone to university and graduated and although it’s nice to see it every now and then I don’t want to look
David Hunt 24:41
Juliet Davenport 24:45
So I am hoping I’ll rather enjoy it to be honest because being on the board. Obviously I know the business inside out. I know the I know the bear traps so I hope I will help the new CEO with I’ll be able to kind of, I’ll do what I like doing, which is looking at the horizon thinking long term strategy, which is, which is where my kind of sweet spot is. And, and I hope that I can help sort of just just be there to provide the history, but also to give the watch that science in terms of projects and areas and, and the overall industry because I understand the industry. Yeah, yeah. So yeah, I’m kind of hoping. And then then I’ve just got to sort out what else I do. And I am genuinely inquisitive. I am curious. And I’m fascinated by things. I like being asked difficult questions I don’t always know the answer to because I will then go and find out what the answer is. So I’m quite excited about this next stage, because I hope that I can work with businesses that I don’t know everything about, but I can find more about as soon as
David Hunt 25:59
Yeah, well, that leads on nicely, because that’s one of the things I wanted to sort of cover with you. Because again, as we’ve sort of talked about, we’re back in sort of the 2000s, when we were, this market was entirely different, we will have that for being sort of a cottage industry and hip hip isn’t worse. But since then, we’ve seen the rise and rise of both solar and wind, which to me at the time seemed really obvious, even though again, not too many. I certainly didn’t foresee in the same way the rise of batteries as they have done in energy storage and electric vehicles. 10 years ago, going back to your rallying days, I used to love watching the group B rally cars racer hands and didn’t ever foresee that they would one day be powered by by batteries. But clearly this is where we are now with extreme meat is literally happening or very similar to so the energy and mobility of transitions continue to both converging grows. So where do you see the biggest challenges and opportunities for I guess future impacts entrepreneurs or for the company that you’re hoping to support in the future? What What does the next few years look like in your mind?
Juliet Davenport 27:00
So I think I think I want to, I probably will have quite a lot focused on energy, but I might branch out into some other areas that cover sustainability and environment generally. innovation and technology is kind of cool to what I’m interested in, as well. So I am in but but young entrepreneurs as well. I do. I’ve done a bit of mentoring. So NatWest runs a climates, an accelerator, and they’ve just bought in a few climates, young entrepreneurs. So that’s, that’s really interesting. Seeing people at the beginning of their journey, also work with an organisation called huckletree, which does something very similar. And so though those two dabbling in some of those smaller areas, and then the wider areas, I’m fascinated by the energy transition, and some of the challenges for the big fossil companies, because how they were arranged their how they get off the habit, I think it’s going to be a really interesting journey. So that’s, that’s really interesting. And then sort of branched out into sort of new areas that I haven’t been involved in before. As I said, I’m genuinely pretty curious. And I like looking at challenges and transformations and figuring out ways through them. So whether but i but i think i think i’m definitely at a time when I want to do some do it as an advisor, whether it’s non exec director roles or advisors to different organisations, I might do another exact role sort of in a while. But for now, I think this will be quite fun just to broaden my horizons.
David Hunt 28:48
Yeah, yeah, step back. And again, I think that you sometimes have to step back and look at the bigger picture without committing yourself entirely, as you say, to another executive role, but to just to see because it’s so so from family dynamic, that the mobility and energy transitions and yeah, yeah, the fossil fuel week before last where we had both the the shell court case in the Netherlands and the shareholder issues with Exxon and Chevron, which were absolutely fascinating. And I really, really almost sympathise so almost, with some of these modern gas companies in terms of how they actually say rearrange the, the, their business models and if they can avoid all the stranded assets and everything else that they’re potentially burdened with, and but we need one side, I think, but it’s, it’s how well they can do that. Yeah,
Juliet Davenport 29:39
yeah, exactly. Well, we do need the one side, but I think I did. I did a piece of work on this many years ago at the RSA. Where we we did it was it was that it’s a it’s a piece of work using a methodology called constellations, which is meant to help with complex problems and it actually came up with therapy, but they’ve used it now for quite a lot of complex corporate decision making. And the some of the questions we put up was how do environmental organisations like Greenpeace and other campaign organisations work with the fossil industry to transform it. And there was there was a, there was quite a lot of work in the room. But what was interesting is we we ended up that businesses like good, were incredibly important in that transformation, because they could shine a light on showing the way for some of the bigger fossils who’ve been in different business models. Yeah. But also, what became apparent is that some of those fossil industries would fall by the wayside because they didn’t make the transition. And I think that’s what we’ll see is I think we’ll see some of the progressive organisations really move forward and and work fine. And then, but you’ll still have organisations that are slightly stuck in the past, who can’t give up their fossil balance sheet. And we’ll find the transition really, really hard.
David Hunt 31:05
Yeah, yeah. And talking being stuck in the past. That’s something else I wanted to touch on with you is that, broadly, I think those of us who are in the clean tech sector like to think of ourselves as somewhat enlightened and egalitarian, and brilliant people, I work with day to day and have them for many years in the sector. But we still have a diversity issue. And I wonder what your thoughts were on how we can address that and why it might be.
Juliet Davenport 31:30
I saw I’m sorry, David. I’ve been working on the CSE for quite some time. Now. I mean, partially, because to be honest, work is more fun if you have a diverse workforce, and you have anything you get involved in. Yeah. But But also, because I do think it’s extremely important to make sure that we deliver a future energy system that is fit for all. And I guess the the challenges are really around the the industry. So I think that multiple and that’s part of the issue. And so you can’t control all of the challenges in one place. So the first challenge is that we, we still have very few female graduates in the STEM subjects, but particularly the engineering and mathematics areas, which is where the feeder stock for a lot of the energy industry has come from. That doesn’t mean we only need engineers or mathematicians, but they are quite an important mainstay of this industry. And I also think that we don’t see enough hybridization on courses. And we’re beginning to see actually, I was speaking to somebody at Durham University where they actually bring together sciences, some of the arts because what we seem to be producing from some of the traditional universities at the moment is people who specialise in arts and people who specialise in science. And in some of the universities, you’ve even got the Science Park where all the scientists go off to a completely different part of the university. And what for me, what that means is you have a bunch of scientists who don’t learn how to communicate, and you have a bunch of artists who have no idea about science. And our planet is going to survive because we bring those two together, not because we separate them. And I think that for me is a fundamental diversity is because it’s not just about we need to be see diversity of thought. And right now, whether whether it’s where you come from, or what gender you are done does seem to divide between those two subjects, and we need to see cross pollination across it all.
David Hunt 33:43
Yeah, no, sir. I think there’s also a diversity of backgrounds and however you want to refer to as sort of social backgrounds as much as anything else. It’s interesting that ersa amongst other organisations, I think are interesting, where you do get an eclectic mix of people with a totally different sort of academic and professional experience, come together and try and solve or talk about problems.
Juliet Davenport 34:03
Yeah. And, and it is really important and what tends to happen is that certain problems only get talked about in certain forums. And so, after a while, if that’s the only place you hear from them, you slightly marginalise it, particularly if it’s not engaging with solving the problem, it’s just engaging. So so if you, if you see, for example, for your poverty, just from the point of view of a regulatory requirement, then you’re never going to be innovative about solving the problem. Yeah, and that that’s the challenge. That’s what we need to break down those barriers between them.
David Hunt 34:39
Yeah, no, it’s an interesting thought. And again, I think there’s a little bit of, I said, navel gazing as such. But again, go back to the fact that you’ve written this cleantech bubble and most people are kind of sit on the similar wavelength, there might be a few discrepancies along the way. But broadly, you will have the same mindset but it’s the rest of that we know that it’s almost like 80% of the population aren’t in this little bubble that we exist in and we have to bring them into their circle. Conversations great. Yeah. But it’s it’s been super to talk to you and we could go on forever. I’d always like to close out Juliet with a little bit of what’s inspired you in your journey along the way, whether that’s books, thought leaders, podcasts or anywhere that maybe either you go to where it’s challenging and you go for a bit of inspiration or things that started you on your journey.
Juliet Davenport 35:19
Yeah, I mean, it’s interesting, because I think I think the starting on my journey was was my university course and studying. So that’s, that’s probably quite introverted in a way that I started. I think there were people inspired, I went to this amazing conference in Oxford in about 2007, where it brought together artists and scientists from across the UK to talk about climate change. And that was pretty amazing. I think Ian McHugh and Philip Pullman, some amazing writers were there. And then some amazing scientists were there as well. So I think you need that kind of place to come together to be inspired every now and then to keep you kind of moving forward. I think gretta thunberg has seriously inspired me in the last few years, to see that generation coming through. And the power of her voice is amazing. And then I go to where I go to, for my kind of, I guess, entrepreneurial fix is I do listen to a podcast called how I built this, which, by Guy Raz, I love it. Yeah, I love hearing other people’s stories, particularly in any sort of business. Particularly because so many of them start off with the same way as we did, which is you didn’t have a business. And suddenly, you didn’t have a business, you create something from nothing. There was no money. You went from hand to mouth for a period of time. And then it becomes something that’s large and established and and hearing that story time and time again, it’s just so excited.
David Hunt 36:55
Yeah, from different content. That’s the one of the things that inspired me to start this podcast is obviously its focus on clean tech, but just that I said, the breadth of how we got to be where we are. It’s almost like magic to some extent. But it’s creativity, isn’t it that you create from nothing something? And hopefully in our world, at least we do good with that. But yeah, huge as a great podcast, by the way. So what I’ll do is in the episode link to this podcast episode, we’ll put a link to that. I’m sure a lot of people will be familiar with it anyway. And of course, links to get energy and to your own website. I know you do a lot of things again, yeah.
Juliet Davenport 37:28
And in fact, if we just launched our own podcast, great green questions, which I have also really enjoyed doing because I learn about things I don’t necessarily know about. So it’s not just on energy can be on a whole wide range of things, including food and agriculture. And so yeah, so that’s been really interesting. I love I and I actually do have listened to it. Because when you’re, I don’t know about you, David. But when when you’re chairing a podcast or presenting a podcast, you don’t always listen to it in the same way as you do when you when you hear it once it’s recorded.
David Hunt 38:01
Yeah, absolutely. I’ve learned phenomenally and so as you try and pick up some as you go along, but definitely listening to or reading the transcripts afterwards, you think there’s some there’s some amazing insights that you pick up from conversations like this. And yeah, it’s important to go back. So we’ll certainly put a link to the Great Green questions podcast as well in the episode page. And hopefully, that will continue. But like you say, it’s a it’s a great fun and privilege to just to talk to people about stuff. That’s, that’s fascinating. So, David, when we consider it now great to have talked with you, I look forward to seeing where you end up next and do the rest of your journey. But, you know, thanks for everything you’ve done. It’s good energy, inspiring. So many companies in the UK, at least along the way. And yeah, great to spend some time with you. Thanks, David. Speak to thank you for listening, and especially to those of you who subscribe to the podcast. I hope you enjoyed another great founder story. Please do continue to share representatives amongst your community online and directly with those that you feel could have an interest. And again, it’d be really appreciated if you could take a few moments out to write a review on Apple podcasts or your platform of choice. Hugely appreciated, and look forward to speaking to on an episode soon.