We talked to Ian Stillie, CEO of ZPN Energy, a fast-growing Energy Technology (EnTech) provider and here is what he said about it.
Tell us about you, your career, and your history.
Ian Stillie: I am an entrepreneur and business leader with extensive experience serving on the Board of Directors within various industries, including media, pharma, sport, and software in an international landscape. My academic foundations incorporate an MBA from Strathclyde University, a degree in mining engineering from the University of Witwatersrand and a BSc in mining and petroleum engineering from Strathclyde University. I am also a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and FRSA.
I was appointed as Chief Executive of ZPN Energy in August 2018 and initiated a restructuring phase. In October 2020, we realigned our strategic priorities, and this consisted of us rebranding from Zapinamo to ZPN Energy. We are now positioned as a leading British, fast-growing Energy Technology (EnTech) that design, develop and produces infrastructure technologies to win the fight against climate change. Our dynamic solutions contribute to a zero-carbon society as we propel self-reliant, sustainable solutions to promote a culture for cleaner air and healthier lives.
How does ZPN Energy innovate?
Ian Stillie: The whole company is about developing new technologies and then turning them into products sold to customers. We are very focused on the products we are producing, but we are always looking for new products to meet our customer’s needs. Our innovation comes about through our employees’ work identifying new ways of creating a particular product, a new or alternative component, etc. It also comes about when identify a situation where our technology could be applied in a different way to meet a customers’ needs. Fundamentally the process is organic but also driven by what the customer wants.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Ian Stillie: In common with many other businesses, the pandemic has put pressure on the company finances in many ways. Investors have been more cautious, and so finding finance has been more problematic. Supplies from overseas have been delayed and become more expensive. The pandemic has made everything a lot more uncertain, which is not a great place for most businesses.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Ian Stillie: We have worked hard to retain all our staff and indeed recruited more through the pandemic. We are a manufacturing and development business, so we have operated through the whole period and not closed our workshops and factory; instead, we have taken appropriate precautions. Staff have worked hard to observe appropriate guidelines.
How did your customer relationship management evolve?
Ian Stillie: Do you use any specific tools to be efficient? We have used video and other communications to stay in touch with customers and potential customers. Where possible, we have met customers face to face with the appropriate social distancing, of course.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Ian Stillie: The Government’s support schemes have been beneficial and allowed us to navigate through financial pressures. Overall, these schemes have generally worked well and been relatively easily accessible.
Your final thoughts?
Ian Stillie: The determination of our Chairman and the Board of Directors alongside our staff’s dedication is the main things that have allowed us to survive the pandemic and continue to build the business. Yes, there have been challenges, but our team have adapted and risen to them.
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