ENEVO Group was founded in 2014 as a born-global engineering and automation venture. The company offers integrated solutions for the full energy value chain, namely: engineering design and consulting for medium and high voltage electrical systems, substation automation and protection services, process control and electrical automation, and industrial IT and cyber security solutions.
ENEVO Group positioned itself as a global company from the very beginning. What led to this decision and what markets are you present in at present?
The decision to focus on international markets came naturally, especially since we knew very well that the Romanian market had palpable challenges - we are talking about a relatively small market, where not much investment has been made, and that is also fairly traditional. The Romanian energy system was designed in the 1960’s and put into operation in the 1980’s and since then, while some of the plants have been rehabilitated to increase their lifespan, new constructions were built only in isolated cases.
Our vision for the first five years was to acquire some quality references that will slowly take us to the market we are targeting, namely the power and automation market. As a new player you need to engender trust and the best way to do it is through examples of projects that you have successfully executed. For us, it was much easier to access such projects in markets where there is an abundance of opportunities. Today we have projects in execution in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Morocco, and in the past we had projects in countries like Uruguay, where we implemented the automation for the back-up energy supply of a back-to-back substation for the Uruguay-Brazil interconnection. Any market is interesting for us as long as our services are sought after and our people are safe.
Technology and innovation are key drivers for your business. What is the appetite for new technologies in the energy industry and where do you see most room for growth?
We see great thirst for new technologies everywhere, including in Romania, but the client approach is also essential: sometimes requests for the "lowest price” reduce the opportunity for innovation. When we started as a company we had two directions in mind: firstly, we decided to be a vendor-agnostic company, meaning we did not want to specialize in the platform of a single technology maker; rather, we wanted to understand different systems and be able to offer whatever technology best suited the needs of a particular customer. This gave us great flexibility in building solutions. Secondly, we toyed with the idea of proprietary product development, which has so far been funded by our core business, but setting up a full R&D department with a standalone budget is part of our long-term vision.
Going forward we see great opportunity in the industrial IT and cyber security areas. Industrial IT is very different from enterprise because we are talking about critical infrastructures that were not thought out, when they were initially designed, to work online. They were designed as isolated processes but nowadays, with technologies such as IoT, the possibilities for interconnection are tremendous. Regarding cyber security, the need comes from the fact that new security threats have appeared in the world, today’s wars have moved into the area of exploiting vulnerabilities of critical infrastructure and this raises great challenges: you can either stop the factory and rehabilitate everything, which is not really feasible, or you can come up with some measures to try to counter current risks for some of the devices that have been thought out a long time ago.
Romania has historically boasted an exceptional workforce, though recently the international environment is luring parts of it away – what is your perspective on the labor market?
Unfortunately, along with the lack of investment and the contracting of the market, we began to lose some of our skills as well. On ethe one hand, when students finish school they need to work on real projects in their first years in order to truly develop their skills and when the market does not offer this chance, which is the case in Romania, it becomes really difficult to create specialists. At the same time, the specialists that we have today are going through a natural aging process.
As a company we acknowledge the reality of this problem and put a great deal of effort into developing our own workforce. We take on board young talent and normally it takes a few years until they become productive in the core business, so during this time we are mainly just investing in them. Like any investment, this one raises uncertainties as well because you cannot know with certainty whether the people will stay with you afterwards. This is why as they advance and reach seniority levels, we pay special attention to keeping them in the team by making sure that their progress and new set of skills are reflected in their compensation. It is about us trusting their skills and loyalty, but also about developing trust on their side in the company’s capabilities.
What are ENEVO Group’s objectives for the next 2-3 years?
When we started out we aimed to have a good standing in the industry after the first year, become a relevant player after three years, and after five years we wanted to be on our way to becoming one of the most important companies in the field of power and automation based in Romania. We have progressed very well, and our focus now is to capitalize on the reputation we have fostered, to grow our teams and diversify our markets as much as possible, with an open mind and confidence in the future.
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