Interview with Ian Gadsby, Managing Director at Ylem Energy
With inflation expected to reach double digits by the end of 2022 and the conflict in Ukraine significantly impacting the cost of gas, it’s been a challenging time for the energy industry. But if we look at the progress we’ve already made in the transition to a lower-carbon energy market and other developing areas like electrification, storage and nuclear it’s clear that it’s an exciting and ground-breaking time to be in this innovative industry. Claire Sofield caught up with Ian Gadsby, Managing Director of Ylem Energy to find out how their business has adapted to recent events, what the future looks like and the all-important question…when will energy prices come down?
IG: I am Ian Gadsby Managing Director of Ylem Energy Limited. I have been with the business in Salford since we started in the energy sector back in the early 1990’s. Ylem is our latest incarnation which follows a sale of a substantial part of our former business, ENER-G, to Centrica around 6 years ago. I have been immersed in the energy sector throughout this time and have always enjoyed the challenge of keeping up to speed with innovations and developments in a fast moving modern energy sector. This has become even more exciting and interesting in recent years as net zero agendas come to the fore for all consumers and producers alike. This drives innovation and we at Ylem strive to keep ahead of this. Since selling ENER-G we have been rebuilding our business and establishing a significant business plan which will see us grow substantially over the next 3 to 5 years
IG: The biggest challenge by far has been living with the impacts of Covid. We have done this quite well on reflection, however its easy to forgot that we were all suffering from uncertainty as we worked through this period and that is a challenge at all levels.
Coming out of Covid we are expanding our business quickly and as such we need to recruit in all areas of our business. This remains a challenge for us as we find a shortage of skills and wage inflation impacting recruitment.
IG: We have tried to address the above challenges by engaging with first class recruiters that are able to understand our needs and work innovatively with us to help us find great people to join our team. We have also had to look inwards and make sure we are adequately rewarding our established staff both through pay but also by creating new and innovative working conditions such as embracing flexible and hybrid working.
IG: As with all businesses Covid restriction caused a lot of concern for us, however as we are operating as energy producers we are considered a key service. As such our on site operations were able to continue largely unhindered. Our office based staff were able to work from home as we have a very well established IT system which facilitates remote working and server access etc. We were on the whole able to run the business all the way through Covid without any office attendance and relied fully on remote working and team interaction via Teams.
We continue to operate the business successfully with hybrid working so that most office based staff are only attending the office for a few days a week. This seems to be working well and benefiting all of our staff in different ways so that travel related issues are mitigated along with enabling better life work balance for all. I have instituted the concept of the “Anchor Day” which we have twice a month and for those days we insist on complete attendance by all staff as if possible. The office is then alive and buzzing and cross team meetings can be organised and lots of face-to-face time which we all miss to a degree. We are also using these days to organise evening socials so that staff traveling in from afar and therefore staying over can enjoy some less formal time with their colleagues.
IG: We believe that Ylem is a great business. Built on success and over many years we remain a well run and well funded business operating in a sector that is fast moving and dynamic. We pride ourselves on remaining “non corporate” and try to maintain a small business feel and culture which we hope makes Ylem a great place to work.
IG: We see a rosy future for Ylem with a sprint period of growth over the next 3 years or so leading to a well established larger and robust energy business. This will take our current team of 73 peole to well over 100 and beyond.
IG: Unfortunately, I can’t see any significant drop in energy prices for the near to medium term. We are desperately impacted by events in Europe, and especially Ukraine and this is still playing out to a large degree. Unfortunately, although the UK has a unique position in Europe as an energy producer (north sea oil and gas as well as significant renewables) We still largely rely upon imported oil and gas. This means as demand in mainland Europe increases because of shortages of supply from Russia, the commodity prices will increase and we will feel the impact. I suspect it's reasonable to consider that for the next 2 to 3 winters we will see significant energy costs impacted. I expect to see some seasonal levelling out of prices but it's likely prices will spike as demand surges in the winter months.
In the longer term (10 to 15 years) I expect to start seeing energy costs come down and level off at an affordable rate as we see the impact of increased renewables and less dependency on fossil fuels, however with the impact of climate change I do feel we are in position whereby energy costs will remain a significant part of everyone’s budget going forward.
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