BRENT COLLVER, CEO OF ROMET LIMITED - 'ENERGY'S BRIGHT FUTURE' (INTERVIEW)
BRENT COLLVER, CEO OF ROMET LIMITED HAS BEEN SELECTED BY THE JUDGES OF WORLD BIZ MAGAZINE'S ANNUAL AWARDS TO BE A RECIPIENT OF THE TOP 100 CEOS IN INNOVATION AWARD 2021. THIS SELECTION FOLLOWS A STRINGENT PROCESS THAT EVALUATED OVER 40,000 NOMINEESS TO SELECT THE EXCLUSIVE LIST OF 100 WINNERS.
Brent Collver’s deep passion for innovation spans 20 years and a string of huge wins in leadership roles that have crystalized into Romet Ltd. This disruptor is transforming the natural gas industry with advanced, connected technologies that empower the industry’s drive for a sustainable and balanced future. We talk to Brent about the major challenges facing the natural gas industry, and why Romet has been so impactful. We also ask about the transferable ingredients behind his phenomenal success story for the benefit of other entrepreneurs and leaders.
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In recent years, energy industry leaders have been speaking about the realistic need for “balance” in the drive towards sustainability and the vital role of technology in achieving this. Please help us understand the challenges that your customers face and the pressures they are under.
Environmental responsibility has continued to build momentum within the Natural Gas industry as the globe grapples with a long term, sustainable solution to climate change. Specific to the market we serve, our customers are charged with continuing to provide a vital, safe and reliable energy source while also enabling the reduction of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. Our customers are under pressure to find a better balance between supporting public and government demands for greater environmental responsibility while supplying the ever-growing energy requirements of an increasing global population and rapid economic growth.
The reality is the industry has successfully focused on providing safe, abundant, and reliable economical energy that is cleaner than more traditional incumbent forms of energy. Therefore, the challenge on the table now is to continue to provide safe, abundant, economical supply while moving to carbon neutral delivery. The mature and well-maintained gas energy infrastructure makes it an ideal solution to support the energy transition movement to environmentally responsible supply. However, this requires a transformation not only in strategy but also in technology. Technology will be the driver needed to accomplish this objective.
This is where our company is focused. Today’s technology is ideally suited to support our customers in increasing their situational oversight on geographically diverse delivery systems. These interconnected grids enable system leveling energy conservation, integrated resource planning, demand response planning and overall asset health monitoring. When this captured and aggregated data is combined with advanced computing and machine learning analytics, it leads to better decisions that are based on factual information that support four of the largest drivers for our utilities: safety, reliability, economic and environmentally responsible.
I believe the future of energy supply globally will be based on a balanced and connected approach. One that utilizes sustainable electricity generation along-side natural and alternative (i.e. Hydrogen) gas to meet growing demand while achieving a total solution for greenhouse gas reduction. Through this balanced approach, the individual needs of customers can be addressed, energy storage assured, and a resilient and safe energy ecosystem achieved.
The natural gas industry is conservative in its adoption of new technologies. Why has this been the norm? Is this mindset changing? And how are industry leaders bringing much needed agility to their companies?
The Natural Gas industry maintains a conservative view of technology adoption for the main reason that safety is paramount, above all else, when moving such considerable amounts of energy through delivery systems. This fact coupled with the tremendous scrutiny on economic supply, means that our customers must ensure the use of any technology introduces the least amount of risk possible. Moreover, assessing risk comes from the detailed and rigorous analysis of facts and data. The simple reality is that this data, within any one delivery system, has not been available in a reliable, robust, and economically viable way.
Additionally, as the vital, but ultimately smaller participant in the Utilities eco-system. Natural Gas has been underserved in the development of advancements specific to their needs rather than adaptations from the other electric or water utilities. When coupled with highly regulated oversight the adoption of change is slowed.
With the increased focus on the environment, reliable supply and harmonizing of energy delivery, coupled with newly available advanced technologies, our customers are changing their outlook on technology adoption. Today exists a real opportunity to accelerate change. Natural Gas is ideally positioned to play a key role in the energy transition strategy, creating a balanced global energy mix, supporting sustainability and the ever-growing desire for economic progress and therefore the demand for energy.
Industry leaders understand the need for such a balanced, modern energy ecosystem, and Romet supports this need. As an industry leader, Romet is engaging the major gas utilities to take a collaborative approach to innovation that not only increases capacity for future advancement but also works to create a mechanism for knowledge transfer to government, industry, and the public. To this end, we are sponsoring a national collaborative consortium in innovation to formalize a mechanism connecting industry, academia, and government to work on relevant programs that are focused around core industry strategic pillars. Through this mechanism risk is reduced, non-incumbent solutions providers are engaged, and cross sectoral knowledge is increased.
You mentioned Romet’s support of, and engagement with the industry. Please share with us some of the other factors that have made Romet such a successful disruptor?
Our customers value Romet through our own core values of being relentless about commitments, openly accessible, and achieving bold goals. As the Natural Gas Industry combats stagnation in innovation, I believe our customers appreciate our desire to engage in collaborative activities that support their growing needs. Our approach is centered on fully understanding our customers’ complex pain points to develop tailored solutions through advanced technologies along with a bespoke customer-centric experience. Romet’s unique open accessibility model draws the customer in at the early stages of any innovation process. This not only ensures that the result meets their needs, but just as importantly, the customer learns about the solution and its implementation throughout the process, along with the advanced technologies involved. This close relationship, commitment to rapid innovation and focus on leading the change within the industry are some of the key reasons that Romet continues to grow existing customers and win market share.
In addition, as Romet is one of the few innovators that is solely focused on gas energy distribution, our customers' success is our success and vice versa.
Talk to us about the technology portfolio at Romet, what do you offer and what does it achieve?
Romet’s “technology stack” is designed around creating a “connected grid” for gas utilities, enabling mature, deployed infrastructure to provide access to real-time data to enable better and more efficient decisions. With this new approach to energy management our customers can have greater insights into energy utilization, conservation, demand management all the while improving operating efficiencies.
Romet has traditionally been a gas measurement company, providing solutions to our customers supporting robust and reliable customer billing. Today I am proud to say we are much more than a meter manufacturer. We support our customers' need for highly robust and reliable information that drives better, more timely, decisions and therefore helping their end customers have safe, economical and environmentally responsible energy supply.
How do you bring your customers along so that they are plugged into the potential of new advancements and breakthroughs at Romet?
Innovation is core to our business and our approach includes always challenging the status quo on behalf of our customers. This means we must continually strive to understand the customer and their challenges (in all their forms) and present innovative solutions to solve problems. The product is only one part of the complete solution, and innovation isn’t limited to hardware or software.
For instance, product training is a significant component to our customers’ needs. With the pandemic limiting travel and on-site support, Romet developed an innovative online learning portal so customers could perform self-paced training enabling them to continue to be functional and efficient. As another example, the rapidly changing landscape of technology, particularly with the Internet of Things, created an opportunity for Romet to take a lead position in helping our customers develop a connected environment for significantly less cost and complexity than other available solutions.
Romet’s growth depends on the ability to understand the relationship between available or emerging technology and the current and future needs of our customers. Our open accessibility model brings the customer into the early stages of any innovation process not only to ensure it meets their needs, but just as importantly, to make sure the customer is knowledgeable around the solution and its implementation.
"Innovation is core to our business and our approach includes always challenging the status quo on behalf of our customers. This means we must continually strive to understand the customer and their challenges (in all forms) and present innovative solutions to solve problems. The product is only one part of the complete solution, and innovation isn’t limited to hardware or software."
Going back to the industry, aside from the adoption of advanced technologies, what else would you consider essential for the long-term success of the industry?
The adoption of advanced technologies is a key pillar to foster the long-term success of the industry but certainly it is not the end all be all solution. All the technology in the world won’t matter if the industry continues to lose traction to public dialogue that lacks facts and serves to foster fear. Balanced dialogue is needed to educate the end user of energy based on a cohesive strategy to arrive at the ultimate end objective: Abundant, affordable, resilient, safe and environmentally responsible energy supply.
Talk to us about the pandemic. How has Romet responded to the needs of its customers during COVID-19?
The pandemic has had its difficult moments, but the industry has risen to the challenge and adapted to continually serving its customers with safety and reliability in the forefront.
Like many companies we have had to adjust how we manage our service and customer support. In the earliest days of the pandemic, Romet made the decision to invest in additional inventory and critical items to ensure any disruption in supply chain would not be felt by our customers. In addition, keeping our team safe while they continue to support our customers through implementing new policies, limiting non-essential activities and supporting our team and their families as necessary to promote health and well-being. These factors have helped keep our business delivering to our customers without incident over the past 18 months.
Your stated goal is to grow Romet significantly over the next several years. Talk to us about this, what are the key pillars upon which this will be achieved?
Supporting the evolution of the Natural Gas industry as it leads the successful energy transition is at the core of Romet’s growth strategy. Introduction of renewable energy sources for distribution while enabling energy conservation and utilization are important to supporting the energy transition and supporting the commitment to achieving the Paris Agreement for climate change.
Romet’s focus is on developing robust solutions that not only perform in the current environment but, through technological innovation, are ready for the future as well. This gives our customers a means to be more efficient in the distribution and usage of gas energy. The opportunity exists to provide customers with the ability to dynamically assess and predict energy needs; and by creating a transparent environment with their end users to demonstrate real-time usage. Business decisions based on this kind of information can have a positive impact on operating efficiency, profitability, conservation, and ultimately on climate change.
"Supporting the evolution of the Natural Gas industry as it leads the successful energy transition is at the core of Romet’s growth strategy. Introduction of renewable energy sources for distribution while enabling energy conservation and utilization are important to supporting the energy transition and supporting the commitment to achieving the Paris Agreement for climate change."
20 years in, you have excelled in a number of leadership positions with landmark successes. Share with us a bit about your background, how you began and your proudest moments so far?
I was lucky enough to be born into a family that encouraged continually looking for new and interesting ways of doing things. This formulated much of what I represent today in my professional life. Perhaps having a mother that was a schoolteacher and a father that was an engineer could have been an indication into what I would be interested in through my career. I have always sought out and excelled in opportunities that needed some creative thinking and problem solving to help achieve objectives. When choosing my engineering focus in university, I was drawn to what I thought was the leading edge of innovation in aerospace. In many way’s I was right, but I fairly quickly realized that my desire to be an innovative thinker extended beyond the technical aspects of my career and into my desire to coach, lead and inspire teams to achieve meaningful objectives.
I started leading teams about 3 years after graduation and haven’t stopped since. Enabling smart, capable and engaged people is the proudest part of my career. Being able to inject creativity into an organization and get focused around a unique set of goals to accomplish, is exhilarating and humbling at the same time as we are all more than the sum of our parts.
I have been lucky enough to gain experience and accomplish interesting challenges in several industries and therefore proving to me innovation and creativity is not market dependent, but rather the willingness to take on bold challenges.
What drives you personally as an entrepreneur and how would you describe good leadership?
I think the answer to this question is that a good leader is continually asking themselves the question of “what makes a good leader?” I believe maturity in self-awareness is critical to being able to lead organizations of any size or nature. A good leader must define and live the values of an organization. They must have a practical and committed vision for success, the ability to effectively communicate that vision, and accurately assess the team or organization’s ability to achieve that vision. Self-awareness also involves the ability to effectively assess organizational health honestly and accurately, and to adapt and adjust as required. A strong sense of self also drives personal humility, a key ingredient to engaging humans to work together. Especially in today’s world of ego and bravado the need is more than ever to demonstrate leadership that illustrates what good looks like.
Most importantly, it’s about creating a sense of “team”. I believe we are all more than the sum of our parts, to assume a good leader is one that only projects strength is flawed. Achievement of strategy comes from a unified vision for success and the people critical to achieving the objectives. Leadership is meaningless without people. Being able to draw out people’s core strength and cover off inherent weakness we all possess provides the greatest chance of success - beyond the best technology, sales channel, or industry presence. Being real about who I am as a leader, an innovator, and a person, is the only way I believe success can be achieved within an organization.
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Romet Limited provides end-to-end measurement solutions to natural gas utilities across the globe by providing best-in-class technologies to meet our customers' needs now and 20 years from now. Our technological platforms are designed to seamlessly provide customer-centric measurement solutions at any level of your business.
For more information, please visit: www.rometlimited.com
Brent Collver, CEO of Romet Limited is featured on the cover of World Biz Magazine Q2 2021 Issue - Click on the image below to view the digital edition.
Download the 12 page extract of Romet Limited's feature in World Biz Magazine's Energy Special Issue below>