Interview: Belinda Moore, Marketing & Communications Director at E.on
Your career is very impressive – you’ve managed the marketing departments for a range of renowned businesses from Marketing Director for Gillette in Russia to Group Marketing and Communications Director for Care UK in London – what attracted you to E.ON?
Energy is an industry that is consistently at the forefront of people’s minds and high up on media and political agendas and is also at the heart of some of the largest changes we face today – things like climate change, improving air quality in our cities and even moving towards smarter, more connected communities.
The market is also going through massive change in itself with some 60 suppliers now competing in the energy market and all vying for consumers’ attention. The challenge of working for one of the major suppliers and helping E.ON stand out in an ever increasingly competitive environment is one I find, hugely appealing.
Over the last couple of years E.ON has gone through a massive transformation in how we operate and we’re now focused on three key areas: energy supply and solutions, renewables and energy networks. Although E.ON is a long established company, we have a renewed focus on delivering innovative, smarter solutions for our customers – whether they are homes and families, businesses or entire cities – and I find this an incredibly exciting place to be.
We loved the E.ON/Gorillaz solar-powered live and digital campaign. Can you tell me a bit about it – for example what inspired E.ON to launch this campaign? How long has it been in the pipeline?
Our solar collaboration with Gorillaz was a global campaign through which found a fresh, exciting way to bring to life the energy future we see developing – where people can generate and store their own lower carbon energy and potentially also play a part in supplying power to the grid. To do this the solar studio was equipped with solar panels and batteries, allowing us to creatively illustrate a technology we’ve recently launched in the UK and helping to bring to life our brand promise of improving people’s lives and creating a better tomorrow for our customers.
Video: Volume one of the solar collaboration between Gorillaz and E.ON
Right across our European markets we have solar and storage products available to customers and this includes the UK where the offering was unveiled at the end of April. But our offering isn’t just about solar; there’s a whole host of new solutions we’re providing our customers with, such as electric vehicle charging and smarter connected home solutions.
EC&R operates a growing portfolio of about 5.3 GW renewable generation capacity across Europe and North America. What are the next steps for E.ON with regards to renewables?
People obviously know E.ON as a major energy supplier but they may be less aware that we’re actually one of the UK and Europe’s largest renewable power generators. As well as running a fleet of onshore and offshore wind farms – including a share in the London Array, currently the world’s largest operational offshore wind farm – we have biomass power stations and combined heat and power generators. We also help residential and business customers to generate their own renewable energy through solar panels, high efficiency heat pumps or biomass-fuelled combined heat and power units.
The immediate future is not only to work further towards decarbonising the power grid with large scale renewables but also to make our power grids smarter and more responsive so individual customers can feed into the grid instead of just taking a feed from it. For example, the energy contained in a battery in an electric car can actually be used during peak hours to power your home or support the grid at times of high demand. Then, when energy demand is lowest, it can charge itself overnight when the demand has fallen. That is the kind of smart grid that will make best use of renewable energy sources.
What are some key issues that need to be addressed to encourage more women in the energy sector?
According to EU Skills, the recruitment and training body for our industry, we’re facing a huge skills gap in the UK with 20% of the workforce expected to retire within the next 10 years, leaving approximately 200,000 vacancies to be filled, many of which will require specific skills and knowledge.
We’re committed to creating a supportive, inclusive culture in which all people can achieve and exceed their potential, to create a better future for our customers. We believe the diversity of our people is one of our biggest strengths and we know it’s only by tapping into different ideas and perspectives that we’ll be able to overcome those challenges.
In particular we’ve been really committed to increasing our gender balance in our executive roles and have one of the best female board representations of any energy company. We’ve seen our future female talent growing and we were very proud that one of our trailblazing female apprentices recently won the Power Apprentice of the Year Award. We offer apprenticeships and graduate programmes in many fields including customer operations, smart metering, highways lighting, cyber security and renewables to name a few. In fact, we recently confirmed that we’ll be increasing the number of apprenticeship roles available in 2017 from 100 up to 400. Early education and engagement are key in addressing this issue in the long term, and that’s
why we’ve supported 10,000 pupils of all ages and both genders over the past year alone through a range of activities in primary and secondary schools across Britain.
E.ON has a long and well established track record of promoting STEM subjects in schools and our activities focus on various areas of energy – from renewables to energy efficiency to education about where energy comes from - and we feel this is key in helping pupils gain a greater understanding of the energy in our day to day lives, and possibly in helping to make our sector more appealing to them as a career option in the longer term.
What do you consider the 3 most important aspects of successful marketing?
The keys to success are knowing your customer through data-driven insights, personalising your communications to best suit consumers’ differing needs, and having the agility and ambition to move swiftly to seize opportunities and minimise threats to your brand.
Only by bringing these three elements together can you deliver truly impactful messaging and insight driven communications that help differentiate you from competitors and, more importantly, create a dialogue with consumers that really resonates with them and addresses what they care about.
Over the next 50 years – what other changes do you believe we should expect to see in the renewable energy space?
Clearly renewable energy is set to continue to grow at pace. It’s recently been reported that solar panel capacity is set to overtake nuclear worldwide for the first time within the next few months. This growth is hugely exciting for us as we’re already at the forefront of helping bring personal energy generation, storage and solutions into the homes and businesses of our customers. And with the advent of smart meters, we expect to see a greater increase in consumers’ understanding of their own energy use which will hopefully mean they’re more engaged too.
E.ON is already a leader in renewables, we’re the third largest operator of offshore wind farms in the world and we’re now focused on generating energy from sustainable sources. Next year, we’re set to officially open Rampion wind farm, our sixth offshore site in the UK and the first offshore wind farm to be built off the south coast of England. When complete it will provide enough electricity to supply around 347,000 homes, that’s equivalent to around half the homes in Sussex. In the longer term, we’ll continue to investigate and implement innovative solutions, such as Solar and Storage to help make greener homes that’ll help meet our customers’ needs and deliver our carbon reduction targets.
How would you advise women wanting to start a marketing career in the energy sector?
The first step is to understand our complex industry and the ever-changing landscape. Once you understand the challenge you can start to think about the issues behind consumers’ concerns and wants and explain complex situations in a simple and effective manner. That’s when you can start to talk to your customers about what matters most to them.