For Jason Howlett, CEO of GivEnergy, being adaptable, listening to the customers, listening to key stakeholders, and listening to his team are not only necessary but essential. What does Jason then do with all that information? He combines the data to identify opportunities to take his company to newer heights.
According to Jason, a CEO should communicate and share success, as well as recognise and reward contributions. It’s about bringing positivity while facilitating everyone else to do their best through empowerment, trust, and accountability. “For me, this focus on the people is what matters – not getting tied up in minute details. Building relationships, networks, and partnerships are essential. I will always prioritise people ahead of everything else – both customers and employees,” says Jason. “This strict focus on people and priorities is key to navigating hyper-growth. It allows me to target results and challenge the team to deliver more than what they think they can ordinarily achieve.”Jason remembers his first director role more than 15 years ago when he sat in the mess room with service engineers who told him, “You’re not really like a director.” This took him by surprise, and thoughts raced through his head about where he was going wrong. However, he calmly asked, “Why is that?” To Jason’s relief, they replied simply, “Because we can talk to you.” This anecdote underscores what Jason has always tried to be: approachable, and prepared to answer any questions. “Ultimately, it’s not about me, it’s about the team,” he says.
Becoming a Leader
For Jason, the primary motivation to become a leader was to make a difference – not only to employees and customers but also to society and the environment. With a degree in environmental science, he has always focused on sustainability and doing something positive in the world.
“Part of this is encapsulated by our core offering at GivEnergy: powering clean, low-cost energy. Another integral piece, however, is our work in creating new jobs and opportunities for career progression,” explains Jason. “We also help get people into the work in the first instance, through apprenticeships and graduate schemes. It’s about giving everyone a chance, no matter what their background.”
Once these new jobs are created, empowering, trusting, and inspiring a team is a further motivation. “While I believe in holding people to account, I will always respect that everyone is an individual and try to engage with them in the best possible way,” he adds. “The role of a leader is not always to be liked, but always respected – with the scope to have a little fun along the way.”
Building a Brand
The renewable energy industry is booming, and Jason has first-hand knowledge of navigating this hyper-growth landscape owing to his previous experiences and industry knowledge. However, this extreme growth presents a huge challenge to keep up with demand internally and externally. The team needs access to resources, while customers need access to stock. The world is looking at renewable energy to help solve the soaring prices and energy uncertainty following the war in Ukraine.
GivEnergy is the UK’s leading manufacturer of electronic equipment designed to manage energy use and production. “The great thing about working at GivEnergy is how we embrace technology and the customer experience. Indeed, we have a (growing) team of 15 whose sole focus is on our customers’ digital experience,” elucidates Jason. “We are unique because we are the only renewable energy storage manufacturer with a UK-based software team to serve global customers.”
“The GivEnergy portal and app, for example, are unparalleled in the energy market – granting customers complete control and full visibility over their energy usage. The level of data, autonomy, and integrations that we provide via our digital services – presented in the most visually enticing and accessible way – make it both easy and engaging for customers to monitor and manage their energy usage.”
This positive experience with GivEnergy solutions is something they are ever striving to enhance. Through capturing user feedback, investing in UX, and dedicating resources to ongoing optimisations – GivEnergy never ceases its commitment to the customer experience.
GivEnergy is working towards enhanced growth and gaining momentum for days to come with a new manufacturing facility, a new head office, a transition to nearshoring manufacturing, and an expansion into the European market. Beyond the bases, GivEnergy also engages in multiple stakeholder and community engagement initiatives. This includes lobbying MPS, creating links with local colleges and universities, and investing in the local community to reuse abandoned buildings and stimulate jobs.
“It’s an exciting scenario: the more we grow, the more we give back to the community, the more we help build a sustainable future, and the more we help mitigate energy security and energy poverty concerns,” adds Jason. “It’s my mission to ensure that renewable energy is accessible and affordable to all. GivEnergy is working towards a world where ‘energy needn’t cost the earth’.”
“There are many competitors out there – but we are the only ones that do it the way we do it,” Jason continues. “We use cost-effective Chinese manufacturing mixed with the highest calibre UK-based development and support. This model is, in part, why we are well on the way to employing 100 people this year, where most competitors have 2 or 3 people.”
It is pertinent to mention that GivEnergy does not just buy someone else’s product and stick a label on it. They control the manufacturing end-to-end. In turn, this allows Jason and his team to be highly responsive and deliver a premium quality product at an affordable price. “We spend our money investing in the communities and our children’s future,” says Jason. “For example, we’re spending around £0.5 million a year for the next three years on our not-for-profit business, GivEducation. Here, we’re working in partnership with Keele University to provide a software solution that supports teachers in delivering better learning outcomes. We have the resource to act as a force for good, and we’re passionate about doing so.”
So, while GivEnergy products are truly market-leading, the company is not solely defined by them. Under the aegis of Jason, GivEnergy is committed to changing the world and giving back – whether that’s giving customers back control over their energy costs, giving back to the environment with clean, renewable power, or giving back to the communities it serves.