My home is in the South West of England, but our customers, staff and operations are spread right across the country, so my working day is generally based around travel. I don’t have a typical working routine, and neither do I have a room or a desk in any of the Greenergy offices. I use the offices as touch-down pads and I sit with my laptop at one of the open-plan desks, wherever the action is.
Typically I’m out on the road a few days a week, for a whole host of reasons. I might be travelling to discuss new ideas with a customer, visiting one of our terminals or meeting our logistics team in Tamworth. I enjoy meeting the staff and value their input and feedback, so I make it my personal business to spend time with everyone in the company twice per year to chat about the business and share concerns or news.
Rarely a working day goes by without me getting in and out of trains and taxis, so there’s plenty of scope for losing and damaging my mobile phone. And I do just that very often.
Trains have become my mobile office, providing precious hours on my laptop. I look at the reports and performance indicators of yesterday (Greenergy has a daily P+L), process emails, send chasers to those who are not performing or thank you notes to those doing well, catch up with calls or update my company blog.
My blog is an important management tool in the company and has covered many themes such as safety (everyone’s number one priority), project updates (ideally with an interesting photo) and company behaviours.
I use my blog to remind staff that Greenergy’s success depends both on delivering perfect performance to every single customer and on operating to the best of our ability with the lowest industry unit costs. The combo of high service and low cost is a tricky one to deliver. We do our best to always succeed.
I also remind people that the responsibility to look after the customer and make things better is everybody’s, not just those in the front line. It’s when we work together as a team that we are sensational.
Like elsewhere, emails at Greenergy continue all day and all night, so the distinction between private and business time gets blurred, at least between Monday and Friday. I usually have a least one business dinner during the week, but if I’m free in the evening I try to meet my wife (who also works in Greenergy) to do something together. My daughter is off to university this autumn, so I’m adding her to my evening dinner plan when my travels permit.
Generally I’m a private person. With Cardiff my home town, I’m a supporter of Cardiff City football club. They’ve never been in the top flight, so this is a special year for me so far. But I’m not a fanatical fan, and for me horse power comes before team sports. Over the past 20 years I’ve spent more days in rally cars than football grounds and I developed the 99 octane fuels in the UK based on rallying needs.
After retiring from rally cars a few years ago, I bought a powerboat to keep my octane head going and I’ve also recently taken up fishing.
I’m used to being reasonably good at most things I try, but at fishing I’m totally rubbish. Strangely enough, I quite like that.
At heart, I’m a have-a-go entrepreneur who set up Greenergy to avoid having a proper job in a big company. Twenty years later my role has turned into (kind of) a proper job not a failure, but funny nevertheless. Now we’re doing more business with independent dealers, it feels like a great place to meet like-minded people and other entrepreneurs who ’get it’.
I often joke with staff that I’m the only person in the company with nothing to do. I see myself as head coach and chief blame-taker. My role is to empower others to do their jobs well and feel good about what they achieve and I’m very proud of what everyone at Greenergy manages to achieve. When I tell people of the size of the business they are always surprised but I always tell them that nobody is more surprised than me!
Name: Andrew Owens
Job title: Chief executive
Career history: Greenergy since it was founded in 1992. Before that, various oil company positions including Esso
Greatest achievement: Providing worthwhile careers for people at Greenergy
Tips for business success: Start up on the darkest day of a recession
Most likely to say: I’ve lost my mobile
Least likely to say: QPR are renowned for playing the beautiful game
Other interests: Rallying (retired), mountain biking, skiing, cooking, football (Cardiff City), powerboats, petrol, fishing (new)