A test drive changed Graeme Cooper’s outlook on the energy industry. Now, he drives innovation in the transport industry.
Improving the world has always been important for the highly respected energy industry specialist. His career began in telecom, before moving on to the wind industry. Today, he is in charge of preparing the UK for electric vehicles and decarbonisation of transport at National Grid.
‒ Working in the zero-carbon energy sector and wind industry made me interested in energy efficiency, climate change and electric vehicles. I test drove a Nissan Leaf and was amazed at the experience ‒ it represents a change in how we travel. It will change the energy industry and be as disruptive to the energy system as wind and solar have been, says Cooper.
After being approached by National Grid, strategic investment in infrastructure became a key issue for him.
‒ People talk about innovative vehicles, charging solutions, apps, business innovation, but fail to understand the grid infrastructure that underpins this. It is often expensive and has traditionally not been quick to deliver.
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He believes the electrification of public transport will be the next big step in his industry.
‒ Passenger vehicles get a lot of focus and the market is growing rapidly. The biggest step will be low/zero carbon road transport. Buses, vans and trucks will be game changers.
While electric cars may have changed his outlook on the industry, his decision to take an Executive MBA at BI «changed everything», according to Cooper, who says studying shaped his approach to leading himself and others.
‒ Leveraging your transferrable skills are key, and learning from other sectors, both what works and what does not. The executive education gives you the perspective, ambition and tools to apply those skills.
He says he chose to study in Norway because he wanted to study overseas in English, together with a global mixture of students. Structured learning that fitted with his existing job and opportunities for exchange studies at Berkeley and in Paris, was also major deciding factors. Today, he enjoys being a mentor for current EMBA students.
Former students describe him as a great team player, innovative and knowledgeable. For Cooper, the most satisfying part of his job is the support he gets from home.
‒ My children are proud of what their daddy does - that means a lot. They tell people that I am getting the UK ready for electric cars and clean transport. At home, we buy low carbon electricity, heat our house with ground source heat pumps and have electric cars. We even treat our waste water, so the only impact my home has on the environment, is that it expels clean water!
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