Elec­tric ex­pe­ri­ence

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By LUO WEITENG in Hong Kong sophia@chi­nadai­lyhk.com

Richard Lan­caster has spent most of his 30-year ca­reer in the power in­dus­try.

“The power in­dus­try is re­ally a re­ward­ing place to be in,” said Lan­caster. “You are pro­duc­ing some­thing that is so es­sen­tial and fun­da­men­tal to daily life and you can­not imag­ine what life would be like with­out elec­tric­ity.”

Man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of CLP’s Hong Kong sub­sidiary CLP Power since 2010, Lan­caster be­came par­ent group CLP Hold­ings’ 10th chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer in Septem­ber 2013. But the Aus­tralian is no new­comer to CLP, hav­ing worked at the com­pany for more than two decades in a broad range of roles in de­part­ments in­clud­ing power plant oper­a­tions, fi­nance and pro­ject man­age­ment.

And he has al­ways been quick to grab op­por­tu­ni­ties to gain new skills and move to new places. “I just jump at the chances to seek for more va­ri­ety,” he said.

An elec­tri­cal engi­neer by train­ing, Lan­caster re­lo­cated from Aus­tralia to the UK and then to Hong Kong, in a bid for a change of scene along his ca­reer path. But the moves were cou­pled with cul­ture shocks that the bold Aussie man­aged to live with and en­joy.

Mov­ing to the UK from his home coun­try, Lan­caster found a great dif­fer­ence be­tween the na­tions, de­spite sim­i­lar so­cial mores and from the main­land at a rea­son­able cost would stand as a good al­ter­na­tive, he noted, adding that a com­bi­na­tion of the two ap­proaches may of­fer more energy op­tions for the ter­ri­tory.

The densely pop­u­lated SAR re­lies heav­ily on re­li­able power sup­ply, an such re­li­a­bil­ity is backed up by a di­ver­sity of op­tions.

“Tens of bil­lions of dol­lars” there­fore would be needed for energy in­fra­struc­ture, a hand­ful of new gas units, and a new cross-bor­der in­ter­con­nec­tor whose lead time, CLP es­ti­mates, would take at least 10 years.

The just-con­cluded public con­sul­ta­tions also re­flect calls for a more open mar­ket now dom­i­nated by CLP and HK Elec­tric, held by Li Ka-shing lan­guage. Aus­tralians tend to get things done in a di­rect way while the Bri­tish pre­fer a com­par­a­tively sub­tle ap­proach, noted Lan­caster.

Then, trav­el­ing half­way across the globe to land in Hong Kong in 1992, he was greeted with a new wave of cul­ture shock.

Lan­caster, who took a six-month course in Can­tonese, be­lieves the first move ex­pa­tri­ates should make to blend in is to learn the lo­cal lan­guage. And wit­ness­ing the boom­ing cross-bor­der busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties with the main­land, Lan­caster started to learn Man­darin four years ago.

The head of Hong Kong’s largest power firm be­lieves ev­ery busi­ness leader has their own style of lead­er­ship and magic for­mula to stay at the helm. As the leader of a blue-chip com­pany with nearly 7,000 staff, Lan­caster al­ways makes sure he has a good team to work with and en­cour­ages work­ers to feel they are mak­ing con­tri­bu­tions in a pos­i­tive way.

How­ever, this is never done by sim­ply di­rect­ing peo­ple or pulling rank, he noted. Rather, he be­lieves in bring­ing peo­ple along by per­suad­ing them about the right thing to do and win­ning their hearts.

“As a leader, you do make con­tri­bu­tions. But your con­tri­bu­tions are so much greater if you are work­ing with a good team. It is al­ways worth tak­ing time to sit down with peo­ple and per­suade them about why we do things a cer­tain way.” con­trolled Power As­sets.

“In the cap­i­tal-in­ten­sive power in­dus­try, com­pe­ti­tion isn’t nec­es­sar­ily the an­swer to more af­ford­able sup­ply and bet­ter con­sumer in­ter­est,” said Lan­caster. In coun­tries and re­gions with more com­pet­i­tive mar­kets such as Aus­tralia, elec­tric­ity prices are much higher, al­most twice as much as in Hong Kong.

“The power in­dus­try in Hong Kong is some­thing we should feel proud of,” said Lan­caster. “The stan­dards it en­joys re­ally set Hong Kong above most me­trop­o­lises in the world.” Con­tact the writer at sophia@chi­nadai­lyhk.com

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