Man of di­ver­sity aims for a world of biodiversity

China Daily (Canada) - - PEOPLE - By KR­ISHNA KU­MAR VR for China Daily

A word that aptly de­scribes Kim­ball Christo­pher Chen is dis­creet.

“I don’t like to drop names,” the chair­man and CEO of Energy Transportation Group, a di­ver­si­fied global con­glom­er­ate, said.

The group part­ners with govern­ments and in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions to de­velop, fi­nance and op­er­ate busi­nesses in energy, tech­nol­ogy, in­fra­struc­ture and lo­gis­tics.

It was a part­ner with the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment in es­tab­lish­ing ship­ping ca­pa­bil­ity for liq­ue­fied nat­u­ral gas (LNG) in south­ern Guang­dong prov­ince.

Since 2012, the com­pany has also been in­volved in de­vel­op­ing LNG ex­ports from the United States to Euro­pean coun­tries in­ter­ested in di­ver­si­fy­ing their gas sup­ply. “Energy is key for devel­op­ment,” Chen said. “If you are pro­vid­ing clean energy you are pro­tect­ing na­ture along with cre­at­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for devel­op­ment.”

The de­clared motto of the energy di­vi­sion of his com­pany is to de­velop clean and low-car­bon-foot­print energy sources and tech­nolo­gies. “We do only what we be­lieve in,” he said.

As China takes over the pres­i­dency of the G20 ma­jor economies this year, he said that the coun­try should deepen ac­tionori­ented dis­cus­sions on how to pro­vide af­ford­able and re­li­able ac­cess to energy for every­one.

At present, he serves as chair­man of the Global LPG Part­ner­ship, a United Na­tions and Euro­pean Union-backed body ded­i­cated to plan­ning and fi­nanc­ing the tran­si­tion of 1 bil­lion peo­ple to use liq­ue­fied petroleum gas by 2030.

“You have to in­crease ac­cess to clean energy to re­duce de­for­esta­tion and to re­duce mor­tal­ity caused by house­hold air pol­lu­tion,” Chen said.

The con­clu­sion of the most re­cent World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion stud­ies is that mor­tal­ity from us­ing wood and char­coal for cook­ing claims more lives each year than malaria, AIDS and tu­ber­cu­lo­sis com­bined.

“Yet, very lit­tle has been in­vested in de­liv­er­ing ac­cess to clean cook­ing fu­els,” he said. “The ma­jor ad­van­tages of LPG are its low cost, high speed to de­ploy and op­er­ate, widely avail­able sources of sup­ply, proven tech­nol­ogy and ease of pro­cure­ment.”

He added that the Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment Goals, a set of tar­gets for 2030 adopted by the UN in Septem­ber last year, fo­cus on uni­ver­sal ac­cess to energy. How­ever, to de­liver this on a sus­tain­able and af­ford­able ba­sis re­quires an un­der­stand­ing of what to pri­or­i­tize. “Asia’s de­vel­op­ing coun­tries need to do their energy map­ping with­out mak­ing any com­pro­mise on their devel­op­ment agenda,” he said.

Chen is a reg­u­lar face as a pre­sen­ter and pan­elist at ma­jor eco­nomic devel­op­ment con­fer­ences. He said he be­lieves that if you can com­mu­ni­cate your ideas and per­suade peo­ple to act, you can ac­com­plish many goals.

Chen stud­ied English and Greek lit­er­a­ture be­fore em­bark­ing on his busi­ness ca­reer.

He ex­plained that as a teenager he wanted to find out both where his skills lay, and what en­gaged his in­ter­ests.

“Your pas­sion has to over­lap with what you are good at. Some­times you are good at some­thing but not pas­sion­ate about it. Some­times you are ex­tremely pas­sion­ate about some­thing, but not good at it.

“I was good at ask­ing ques­tions. But giv­ing an­swers to those ques­tions took time. It needed ex­pe­ri­ence. I am good at con­nect­ing di­ver­sity into thoughts.”

The busi­ness group that he man­ages was founded by his fa­ther, Christo­pher Chen ChieYuan, in 1972. ETG, head­quar­tered in the US, quickly be­came one of the largest ship­pers of spe­cialty car­goes, in­clud­ing gas.

Chen’s fa­ther en­tered the ship­ping busi­ness in 1946 and be­came one of the own­ers of what was to be­come Marine Trans­port Lines, one of the world’s largest ship­pers of bulk car­goes.

The com­pany op­er­ated oil tankers, ore ships, molten sul­fur car­rier ves­sels and wine car­ri­ers as well as gas trans­ports. He sold his in­ter­est in that com­pany in 1970 and formed the ETG Group two years later.

Af­ter com­plet­ing his bach­e­lor’s de­gree at Har­vard, Chen started a ca­reer as a banker with the then Bank of Bos­ton (now BankBos­ton af­ter a 1996 merger with BayBank).

“I wanted to have a broader per­spec­tive so I de­cided to work out­side the fam­ily.

“I wanted to be the sub­ject of dis­ci­pline and pro­fes­sional eval­u­a­tion from those who are not my fam­ily. It gave me ex­po­sure to a range of in­dus­tries.” Af­ter a cou­ple of years serv­ing in Lon­don, he quit and en­rolled for a master’s in busi­ness ad­min­is­tra­tion at Har­vard. “Af­ter com­plet­ing my MBA I joined my fa­ther in his busi­ness. I was given the charge of new busi­nesses that were be­ing de­vel­oped by the group.”

By then his younger brother had joined the fam­ily busi­ness. The tough­est and most crit­i­cal chal­lenge of plan­ning for suc­ces­sion in the fam­ily was done based on merit.

Chen later bought his brother’s share in the fam­ily busi­ness to con­sol­i­date his po­si­tion.

He noted that dis­con­nec­tion be­tween rel­a­tives within fam­ily busi­nesses can of­ten lead to the fail­ure of a com­pany. “In Asia that is less so,” he said. “That’s why we see many suc­cess­ful fam­ily busi­ness en­ter­prises for many gen­er­a­tions in the re­gion.”

But the East and the West can learn from each other, he said.

“Peo­ple-to-peo­ple ex­change is im­por­tant in this as­pect. For in­stance, if you look at the re­la­tion­ship be­tween China and the US you will un­der­stand that.

“Vis­its of top lead­ers have def­i­nitely im­proved re­la­tions. But peo­ple-to-peo­ple ex­change is the key. Peo­ple are key to make this world a bet­ter place to live in. We have to in­volve peo­ple and do it for them,” he said.

If you are pro­vid­ing clean energy you are pro­tect­ing na­ture along with cre­at­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for devel­op­ment.” Kim­ball Christo­pher Chen, chair­man and CEO of Energy Transportation Group

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

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