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 firstname.lastname@example.org