"Sustainability must equal Profitability..."-Roshan Perera
A Kiwi with a background in Law and Business, and by pure chance, now finds himself building an energy business in the heart of Johannesburg, South Africa. FirstStep.me spoke with him about his career and finds out what lies ahead in the energy business.
Where are you currently located on the planet? Johannesburg, South Africa, originally from Whangarei, North Island, New Zealand.
You currently work at an energy company focused on gas resources, what exactly is your role at the company? The company’s are twofold, High Speed Gas is a gas solution, installation and retail store serving greater JNB (domestic, commercial and industrial clients). It specialises in providing gas solutions for those looking to make the change from electricity or looking to save on their energy bills.
HSG Distributors is the other arm, we source, import and distribute gas products from around the world to fit gaps we see in the SA energy market (or where we see a demand for something and take a ‘calculated’ risk). I run HSG Distributors start to finish, sourcing products, making deals and purchases, organising importation, pricing, advertising, finance etc...(FirstStep.me says that is very cool)
Where did you kick-start your career and how did you progress to get to where you are now? I studied Business Management and Law in NZ, then went to the UK for 7 years working in law, finance, IT and finally ended up starting an ERP Consulting Company in London for 3 years. Same sort of background to HSG, my partner and I saw a niche, worked out a plan how things could be done better and went for it. The business was very successful, until the dreaded ‘R’ put a stop to that. I saw the opportunity to head home to NZ, stopped in SA on the way and boom, bang..... 2008 load shedding in South Africa – next opportunity presented itself. (FirstStep.me notes: Dreaded R means Recession)
In terms of the global economic climate, what are the concerns and opportunities that you see in the energy sector? The energy sector along will the environment will receive the greatest global funding over the next 20 years. As the recession abates over the next 2-3 years, R ‘n’ D spending will be aimed at preserving the planet and with it, developing renewable energy sources. As corporate responsibility becomes legislated so too will the need for energy source accountability. You will see in South Africa in particular over the next decade that each MNE will be generating their own energy – COP17
Do you believe that your daily working career should be ignited with a cup of coffee in the morning?...(FirstStep.me is inspired by coffee!!) Coffee is good, Ceylon tea is better but nothing beats the gym in the morning.
Any corporate career is a challenging one, is there one challenge that is tougher than the rest? Culture, South Africa has many different cultures and in order to do business you need to strike a rapport with each individual. So you never know where you stand and what the correct thing to say or not say is... poker faces everywhere-impossible to read! (FirstStep.me says: great business training!)
Where do you see your career in next 5 to 10 years developing into? Very hard to say, due to the economic climate and I am keeping myself as flexible as possible. That said, I will develop this business each day and look to fill gaps in this market where I can.
In terms of the working world, do you feel that innovation is the key to sustainability or is the good old “work hard and sleep when you dead” ideology better? Definitely not the latter, we are the spoilt generation, our parents worked hard or ‘lived to work’. We ‘work to live’ and would take the easy way out where possible. Innovation will be primarily to make our already comfortable lives even more of a cake-walk... Sustainability must equal Profitability, or it will be hidden away from us.....
Are there any people in business that inspire you? Funnily enough not at all. You always read how some IT guy read some other guys biography and guided him, I myself rather collect idea’s from people I encounter each day (FirstStep.me says: Brilliant thinking!)
What words of advice do you have for the youth of the world who want to take on a career with the sort of ambition that you have shown? Easy, 3 letters T R Y.
Finally if you could name your own planet what would you call it? Ork from Mork and Mindy the television show.