INNOVATORS VS COVID 19
Paul Mignot of Withthegrid Tells Us How the Pandemic Has Proven that Faster Digitalization of Energy Infrastructure is Possible and a Necessity
We talked to Paul Mignot of Withthegrid about industrial IoT sensors and predictive maintenance.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Paul Mignot: Luckily, family, friends, and colleagues are all safe. I will become a father at the beginning of next year and am really looking forward to it.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Withthegrid.
Paul Mignot: My background is in Energy Sciences, which I studied at Utrecht University. I started my career as a management consultant, after which I went to work at one of the Netherlands’ largest electricity grid operators Stedin. There I witnessed firsthand the challenge of the lack of sufficient technical labor, aging assets, and the need for grid decarbonization. I was convinced that providing an integrated software solution to translate asset IoT data to actions for the technical workforce would address this challenge. You could call it an asset monitoring platform suitable for any time series data source. We have been working on that since day 1 and work with the large and small infrastructure owners and operators.
How does Withthegrid innovate?
Paul Mignot: By having a multi-disciplinary team and carefully listening to our customers and translating those problems and needs to an actual solution that solves that. Our four core values help us maintain focus: astonishment, excellence, service, self-efficacy.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Paul Mignot: Luckily, our sector has not been directly hit. People still require electricity, gas, heating, and the infrastructure to transport it. Our grid infrastructure customers were able to keep their operations going, and we have been able to help them digitize their operations faster.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Paul Mignot: Fortunately, we didn’t have to lay any people off due to Covid. We have learned that being fully transparent makes the team grow more close-knit and overcome any challenge that lies ahead.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Paul Mignot: On a personal level, I deal with it by running. I very much enjoy (ultra)long-distance running. On a team level, we deal with this by being transparent and sharing both successes and failures. Our shared team belief is to “fail fast,” so we can learn as fast as possible from it.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Paul Mignot: We focus on listening to our customers and being the best in translating that to a solution that solves their problems. By focusing on a specific market segment, we can combine customer insights into one single product. This gives us an edge now and in the long run.
Your final thoughts?
Paul Mignot: In the coming years, the challenge of maintaining energy infrastructure performance as we are all used to will increase due to the rapid rise of renewable energy sources and system integration. As Covid has accelerated digitization in the office and home environment, so too will decarbonization accelerate the digitization of infrastructure. Covid has taught us that external factors can increase the pace of digitization. The age of digital energy infrastructure is only just starting.
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