As part of our International Women’s Day celebrations, we wanted to feature some of the work being done by leaders, who just happen to be women, and hope that others will be inspired to invest their future career in public life. Regina Finn, Chair of LCCC & ESC, took some time to answer a few questions and provide some useful insights.
What first attracted you to the role?
The Low Carbon Contracts Company (and its sister company the Energy Settlement Company) are a unique blend of public purpose – incentivising low carbon energy that benefits the environment – and commercial business – private market investment to deliver generation capacity, ranging from off shore wind turbines to biomass, nuclear and new emerging technologies.
It is highly motivating to play a part in delivering the UK’s ambitious goal of Net Zero by 2050, and especially to work at the crucial interface between public policy and commercial energy markets.
What in your career path to date do you think has most prepared you for this role?
Most of my career has been in roles that are aimed at harnessing the power of industry to deliver good outcomes for consumers – from regulating the water sector in England and Wales, to chairing an energy business that was structured without shareholders specifically so that any profits could go to keeping consumers bills down rather than in dividends to shareholders. These opportunities have allowed me to see things from all sides – the consumer view, the industry view and the public policy view. That perspective is critical to the work of LCCC and ESC and allows me to communicate with all of our stakeholders to agree what good outcomes we are aiming for and to work to deliver them.
Were there any early surprises?
The enthusiasm of the LCCC teams was something I expected but the depth of expertise and the fantastic diversity of the teams was a (very welcome) surprise. It is that expertise in managing the Contracts for Differences and the Capacity Market that equip the business to step up to the challenge of helping to meet the government’s Net Zero policy.
What were the early priorities?
When I joined the businesses in September 2019 the business had two very near term priorities. The first was to restart the Capacity Market which had been suspended due to a legal challenge. The CM is critical to ensuring the UK has enough electricity generation plant available to meet peak demand – basically to keep the lights on. The second was to sign new commercial Contracts for Difference with 12 new low carbon generation projects that will deliver 29TWh (Terawatt hours) of affordable, green power annually from the mid 2020s.
The fact that these two critical tasks were delivered smoothly, efficiently, on time and to the highest quality is a testament to the LCCC teams. It is that successful delivery that empowers the LCCC to play a key role in addressing the next major priority – Net Zero!
Which of your own skills has most come in to play?
The role of the Chair of the Board is to build and run an effective board that supports and challenges the businesses to deliver to its full potential. I have especially enjoyed challenging the businesses to apply the extensive expertise and skills of the teams to developing new ideas to contribute to delivering Net Zero and I have been delighted to see the enthusiasm for meeting this challenge.
Was there any advice you received in the early stages that has been invaluable?
I think the best form of advice is not the spoken word but rather the actions of the people you meet in your career who are brilliant at what they do. I was incredibly fortunate that my first non-executive role was on a board where the Chair was just such a person. Amongst the many lessons I learned from him was the power of confidence without ego, and the importance of challenging the business to deliver excellence in a way that is supportive and constructive.
What advice would you give other aspiring Chairs?
Watch and learn – if are lucky enough to have brilliant role models like I had.
Focus on businesses and sectors that you are strongly interested in.
Adopt a broad definition of organisations you would like to Chair – your first Chair role may well not be a ’traditional’ FTSE listed business; consider public bodies, third sector organisations. trusts and community organisations for example.
Finally, persevere, persevere, persevere. It is worth it when you get that role that you are truly passionate about!