Iulian Harpa
Managing Partner
HIM Public Affairs

27 July 2020

HIM Public Affairs offers an array of PR, digital marketing and business development services, predominantly in the energy sector.

Could you introduce our readers to how your business took shape and what your vision for it is?

The concept was created back in 2014, when I came back to Romania from my last engagement as a full employee in the U.S.A., with the main goal to serve the public good. The purpose is to support our clients in achieving more business and successful projects, whilst ensuring a smooth dialogue with the energy sector key players. 

We believe that our main competitive advantage is our focus on one target, the Energy Sector, and, inside of this scope of work, we integrate our professional and tailored strategic communication services. I really don’t want to walk through all our services portfolio and to say how great we are! Instead, I would say that I am very proud about the organizational culture, focused on the client with humble approach, two ways communication channels and continuous professional development.   

The energy industry in Central and Eastern Europe is going through some shifts at the moment, and the oil & gas segment has to face the inevitable transition towards a lower carbon emission economy – what do you consider to be the key trends to look out for in the near to medium term future, and the associated opportunities for companies?

Oil & gas industry use to be the VIP of the energy sector and the question is for how many years? Producers understand that the life of hydrocarbons will last another 20-25 years and so they are speeding up the exploration of relevant discoveries. Another strategy of producers is to increase their footprint in other industries. In this respect, out of 8 biggest oil & gas players in the world, Shell is the best practice in diversification by far, followed by Total and I am sure that Exxon, Chevron, BP, Eni and Equinor will follow this road.

 

We all agree that the current pandemic crisis just confirmed the increasing volatility risk of conventional hydrocarbons of the energy sector. 

 

In terms of European transition policy, I’d like to refer to the recent statement of the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen who affirmed that the Green Deal will serve as a motor for the EU’s recovery. In simple words, the Green Deal is not only about green energy but also about accepting the nuclear energy projects and gas as the fuel of choice, for the energy transition in the next 20-30 years. So, the balance sheet of the moment should take into consideration two aspects: the high cost and time needed to build up the infrastructure and, on the other hand, the sustainable green energy. So, the question is: should we jump directly to electricity or should we use conventional hydrocarbons as an interim solution? 

In Romania exciting things are happening as well, how do you clients assess the current ease of doing business and opportunities available to them?

When it comes to ease of doing business, there are several indicators, part of the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Index, that should be taken into account regardless a company’s profile or area of activity.

 

Speaking about the Romanian market specifically, in 2018 it was ranked 52 among 190 economies in the ease of doing business. In general, investors are complaining about the weak country infrastructure, access to markets, or the lack of workforce. 

 

We learned from our clients that the judicial, legislative, fiscal and regulatory unpredictability continues to complicate the business environment in Romania. There is also room for improvement related to the consultations between authorities and investors before adopting the laws that have a direct impact on their activities. Nevertheless, the Romanian market, one of the largest in Central and Eastern Europe, is still accessed a lot due to its geo-strategic advantage, the natural resources that are available to be discovered or the access to the European free market representing just a few aspects that our clients are mentioning as opportunities for them to invest and here.

With more political stability and predictability, there is still a lot of potential for the foreign investors which could increase the direct investments in the energy sector in terms of knowhow, new technology, transformation and digitalization. 

Have your business work conditions changed in any way? How did the energy market react to the COVID-19 outbreak?

Despite the fact that COVID-19 brought so many unpleasant situations, we could say that this crisis may speed up digitization of operations within all industries. I think this epidemic breakout at this point in time has exerted a great impact on the energy market, but is still too early to estimate how deep and how long the impact will last. 

 

Energy markets need support from Governments and from this perspective Romania, as a UE member, has started to implement such policies. The country has room for investments in all important sectors and, if such programs will be fully implemented, we could see a shift of the paradigm: economic growth through investments, not through consumption. 

 

Is a good start but there is still a real need to create a predictable business environment, to stimulate direct investments and also to sustain the start-up businesses which should create new jobs that supposed to cover the gap of approx. one million jobless persons in Romania. 

Getting connected with the right business partners, events and knowledge sources can have a massive impact on a company’s path to success – how do you plan to assist them and what are the main objectives for HIM in the next two to three years?

When it comes to assisting our business partners, HIM team approach is simple: we deliver services included in our area of expertise, adapted our partners specific needs. The pathway is to understand the business first and then to consolidate the long-term partnerships based on trustful and solid relationships, focusing on developing the type of relations that help our partners interact with many interest groups, whilst building and maintaining mutually beneficial relations.

HIM business strategy has been designed for the next 5 years and as a big picture, is referring to consolidate and extent the current partnerships and, in parallel, increase the internal professional competence which will be reflected as professional deliveries to serve the public good. In the end, I would like to add only one more thing: Our goals, strategies and commitments are reflected briefly in our motto: “Innovative for profitable”.

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