Pete Lau, CEO Europe & Middle East, current powered by GE, is a respected expert in the industry with a proven reputation for transforming operations, commercial and service models. Pete began his GE career in sales in 2001 and has held a variety of commercial leadership positions in North America. He ran and led the integration of GE’s recent start-up acquisiton, Albeo Technologies. He comes to this role as the former general manager of global sourcing and LED fulfillment, where he transformed the global sourcing organization by championing start-up principles and customer-centric operations.
How did you become involved in the Smart Buildings industry?
I have always been totally committed to exploring what I see as the transformational power of energy efficiency. I have spent my career searching out innovative clean power solutions to our global energy challenges and am really excited about leading on this as CEO of Current, powered by GE for both Europe and the Middle East regions.
What excites you about the Smart Buildings industry?
The very real opportunities we have to bring value to our customers by transforming the way they manage their energy consumption. Our new start-up is a response to a rapidly changing market, where energy is being transformed from a commodity into a much more holistic service offering – powered by increasingly smart data, cutting-edge clean technology and powerful software engines.
Are there any particular technologies that we should be aware of, but are currently under the radar?
I am really excited about the value Predix, our revolutionary cloud software platform that we have purpose-built to store, exchange and analyse huge amounts of industrial data, will bring to the global economy. By ingesting real-time raw data from machines and converting it into revelatory insights it gives organisations a previously unrealised commercial advantage.
Smart technology is evolving by the day, but it is the way we use it that gives us the competitive edge. Over the next couple of years Current aims to move from a $1bn start-up into a $5bn business by offering customers a tailored energy service that will include LED lighting, smart sensors, software analytics, electric vehicle and renewable generation arms. This requires “joined up thinking” and a much more collaborative approach. It is not so much what we do, as the way we do it that will make that all-important difference.
What services does your company offer?
Our main focus is on scaling our LED business first, rolling out smart lighting systems that can give real monetary value to our customers while significantly reducing carbon emissions. When we have achieved a smart energy foothold in our region, we will roll out a complete ecosystem that will revolutionize the way our customers approach their energy provision.
Are people aware of the regulations that they will need to comply with in the near future?
In my view awareness of 2020 carbon emission reduction targets is now pretty widespread and is encapsulated within most business plans. A great deal has been achieved thanks to government measures but there is so much more work that needs to be done if the UK is to meet its ambitious targets. We are doing whatever we can by partnering with organisations at the forefront of change – for example, we have been partnering with the Carbon Trust for the past three years to facilitate open dialogue around the principal issues. We have just jointly hosted a massive conference for the public sector to confront the challenges faced head-on.
How big are the benefits of a Smart Building?
The benefits are huge and evolutionary – take for example a recent partnership project with Santander: the global banking institution has just installed the UK’s biggest ever fully-funded LED lighting retrofit – with 90,000 new lights installed across the bank’s UK estate of 800 branches and 13 office buildings. This £multi-million project has slashed Santander’s energy use in half and reduced their carbon emissions by more than 7,000 tonnes each year. This model includes a substantial investment of £17.5 million by the UK Green Investment Bank plc and Sustainable Development Capital Limited – making it the biggest LED-Financing package the UK has ever seen.
Who has been the biggest influence in your career?
There is no question – my father has been my biggest influence throughout my life and the man I have tried to emulate. He is my biggest supporter and has always been my closest confidant
What is the question you are most often asked in your business life?
I receive a lot of questions revolving around career advice and especially about how to enjoy a rewarding career. I make as much time as I can to nurture young talent by trying to be the coach and mentor I needed and found early in my career.
What are the best/worst things about your job?
I know it is a bit of a cliché, but our teams are the lifeblood of our company and working with them is the greatest privilege. I like to focus on positives, but if I were pressed, the worst thing about my job would be the demands on my time that take me away from my family
What advice would you give to someone starting out in the industry?
Be passionate about what you do; let the customer be your guiding light’ focus on doing your job the best way it can possibly be done.
What living person do you admire and why?
That is easy: my mother. She raised 7 kids and made it seem effortless. Now that I am a parent myself I have a real appreciation for the job mothers do. It is rewarding but it is difficult and extremely hard work.
Where would you most like to live?
I am living the dream! London – we are so fortunate to have moved into this great city.
What is your favourite book?
I am an avid reader and couldn’t pinpoint an absolute favourite, but I like to read fiction the most, averaging a book a week
How do you relax?
Spending precious time with my family, reading, and time permitting, playing sports. I love any type of skiing, football and play a bit of golf.
What sports team do you support?
I never walk alone being a passionate supporter of Liverpool Football Club!