Insights from the buzz behind end-to-end e-mobility with Tomas Edwards conversations in cleantech, season two episode one
Insights from the buzz behind end-to-end e-mobility - conversations in cleantech season two episode one with Tomas Edwards, Head of Marketing at GowithFlow
Tomas Edwards heads up marketing at GowithFlow, whose vision is to change the way people move - for the better - with an industry-first, end-to-end Sustainable Mobility Resource Management solution. Using a unique framework, the business works with corporations and communities worldwide to help them realise their operational, financial, and environmental goals. Managing over 4500 vehicles, 250 users, and 4000 EV chargers, GoWithFlow is backed by Galp Energia, one of the biggest innovators in energy delivery.
Before working in cleantech, Tomas has a flourishing corporate career in financial services and FinTech, landing senior roles within strategy and marketing - until deciding to take a leap of faith into a role at a small Portuguese cleantech start-up earlier this year. This change of career heart, embedding himself within the cleantech community and Tomas’ newfound passion gives him a unique perspective on the cleantech industry.
Read on for Tomas’s key insights and, be sure to listen to the podcast in full here.
What is your understanding of what the cleantech space is, what it means and what fits within that umbrella?
The way I look at it, the world has got some problems, right? And a lot of those are environmental problems. We as human beings absolutely have the intellect and ability to fix those problems through technology and applying what we already know. What we've already developed in that space to solve those environmental problems is fantastic. But of course, as we develop, and as we evolve in the technology space as well, we'll start to see new ways of dealing with these problems, as well as finding new problems to solve.
So for me, cleantech is that umbrella term that's describing exactly that: in exactly the way you'd say health tech or my old word, FinTech, we're now looking at cleantech being the technology that exists to address some of these environmental problems. The clean piece is really the important descriptor - is this technology that is not only addressing environmental problems, but in turn, doesn’t have any adverse effect on the environment or the world we live in - there's either very low or ultimately zero impact.
What inspired you to make the leap into cleantech?
In January 2019, my eldest daughter asked me what I did at work, and I dismissed it in an “oh it's boring, you don't want to learn about that”. Then I regretted saying that pretty quickly afterwards, thinking about what I'd said and why was I telling my daughter that work is boring. I don't want her to think that what I do is not interesting to me, especially when occasionally you have to sacrifice time with your children for your work - that's not a great message to share.
So, I started to think about what would make me happy in what I do, and why would I be spending so much time each week performing something I don’t like to do. That started the process of me trying to re-evaluate my own life and my own career to work out where can I add more value, and ultimately, ended up saying “hang on - I've got quite a good skillset, so why can't I apply that skill set to a new environment, an area where I think I can really make a difference?”. Luckily for me, that’s when I met Jane Hoffer, our CEO. She recognised my transferable skills too, which meant I was able to jump from Financial Services Technology right into clean technology, into mobility change. So far, it's working out really well - and touchwood, it continues to go okay!
What is the value of collaboration in cleantech?
We're trying to build an ecosystem of services, relationships and partnerships that help our clients, and ultimately people know they can't do that on their own because some of the answers aren't known yet. If there's an expert in one vertical and an expert in another vertical, they’ll need to collaborate to make things work - and introductions are key to that.
There are events that go on that are really strong in helping to make these introductions. What I'm seeing and what I'm really encouraged by, is the fact that the people who are involved in these events are there to do business, they're there to meet people, they're there to look for these partnerships. And this isn't a rarity; people are putting their hand up and saying, “look, I need help, who can I speak to who can who has this software, who has this infrastructure?”. People want to help because they know it's good for their own mission, but it's also good for their own business.
The way Ade Thomas, who runs green.tv, brings the industry together is fantastic; he is the founder of World EV Car Day that was a couple of weeks ago, and is also running an event in Scotland in conjunction with COP26. Someone I met recently at one of Ade’s events is Catherine Marris, who works for the charity Motability. She's looking at how the transition to electric vehicles is going to affect those that aren't physically able. They may not be able to lift the heavy electric cables, or they can't get up the curb in a wheelchair easy enough to get the cable off the charging point - important points that aren’t always considered by the wider cleantech community. She's a very impressive person who always has really clear, articulate things to say and is a voice that should be listened to.
How can we all work together for a cleaner future?
We all have a responsibility to improve our environment today, and certainly to improve it for future generations. No matter what you do, whatever efforts you make yourself, it's going to drip into society, people are going to see that, people are going to copy your behaviour. Whether it’s reducing the use of plastic or changing to an electric vehicle, the shift might take a couple of generations, but it will be witnessed and grow like ripples in a pool to get bigger and bigger and bigger.
I had a discussion last week with a client of ours on the corporate side, and it is a really interesting viewpoint. If you're a corporation and you have a responsibility or a belief that you want to lower your own carbon emissions, there is the carbon you put into the atmosphere through your own operations, through what you make or what you do. However, if you want to encourage your staff to come to the office, you're also encouraging them to put carbon into the atmosphere - unless they use a mode of transport which doesn't do that.
So, you also have a responsibility once you're trying to bring your people to your office or send them around the world or around the country. What corporations should be looking at is rather than “our carbon emissions is x”, you need to think about the impact all your supply chain has as well. All your supply chain will be emitting carbon, and your employees in their roles or even in their personal life will be doing that too. Therefore, organisations have quite a big responsibility to change that culturally and to encourage their staff to pave a different way. As a drip-feed into society, corporations are perfectly placed to change the way that we all behave.