Power & Utilities
Rigorous Market Analysis Supports PE Sale of Leading Utility Infrastructure Provider
With sustainability firmly in place as the major issue for both business and society, L.E.K. Partner and Vice Chair, Sustainability John Goddard looks beyond goals and targets at the journey to a sustainable future.
My name's John Goddard. I've been a partner at LEK for over 20 years. I work across a broad set of sectors and I have industrial clients in the transportation sector and I've had a number of global leadership roles, including leading our European business at the beginning of this decade. This year, I was one of the co-founders for our LEK Sustainability Center of Excellence. And recently, I've been appointed vice-chair of sustainability, leading our sustainability activities globally. Sustainability is clearly a major issue affecting society, and of course, it affects business. Businesses are ready to take on that challenge and many businesses spend a lot of time thinking about their sustainability goals and targets, in particular, net-zero, which focuses on reducing emissions over time.
Targets are important, be it 2050, 2040, or 2035, but what really matters is the journey to get to that target. As we like to say, "It's not the intercept on the x-axis, it's the area under the curve." And that's really, really challenging. And while our clients find it relatively straightforward to identify the targets and goals, that journey is where we help.
Strategy has become that much more complicated. There are conflicting strategic choices. We have stakeholders with a range of different perspectives, be it employees, be it customers, be it suppliers, be it the board, and of course, investors. Balancing that is a really challenging activity. What we are trying to do is to help our clients optimize the response and making the right set of choices to help move that journey towards their net-zero target.
One of the big challenges that companies have to make is balancing the short-term with the long-term and making investments now for perhaps benefits in the future. Considering their supply chain all the way through to the suppliers that supply their suppliers and understanding with clarity as to the exposure, be that to emissions, be that to social management, and be it to governance. And that's where we can help think through those challenges.
Other challenges. Technology is increasingly important in enacting change. And in terms of sustainability, companies are having to go to small companies, technology companies, making new collaborations in certain cases with governments in order to achieve their objectives and the overall objectives of society. There's a really important constituency and that's the employees, and employees wanting to be proud and having a very positive feeling about their organizations increasingly are looking for clear sustainability choices, be that in the energy that the company uses, be it their employment policies, how they deal with gender, how they deal with diversity, and how they deal with their societies and the broader environment in which they sit. And that's going to be an increasing pressure on all companies, large and small. And it has to be thought in terms of the broader strategic choices that businesses are making.
One of the challenges that sustainability brings a business is how to think about investment and how to make those decisions trading off the short-term with the longer-term. But what's very interesting is here, and we can point to examples, we're actually spending that CapEx now and spending that CapEx earlier, will put the business in a much better position over the medium-term. And actually, in classic financial theory, you can show often that there's a net present value benefit in doing that.
We set up our Sustainability Center of Excellence earlier this year, primarily to bring together the expertise and the capabilities across the firm so that we could deploy it more effectively to our clients and help them solve these critical problems and issues. We have 20 partners globally that sit on what we call our executive board and together with a number of [inaudible 00:04:32] consulting staff, we are providing a set of information, content, knowledge, and expertise that the broader partnership can deploy with its clients. As a firm, since the middle of the last decade, LEK has been carbon neutral, and we have entered a number of very high-quality offset arrangements to offset the emissions directly related to our business, but we're constantly refreshing that and rethinking that. And because that's really important for our employees, it's really important for our clients.
And we can hardly walk the talk in sustainability with our clients if we're not walking it home. So in terms of what LEK brings a client in helping them think through some of the sustainability challenges is really that independence, objectivity, and analytical rigor. Around the board table around the executive table, there are lots of points of view, but perhaps just now there isn't a lot of experience around these issues. So what we can do is we can bring new thinking, research, analytical approaches, and some objectivity to the alternatives. It's helping our clients make great strategic decisions and in an informed way that trades off the short-term with the long-term to develop a clear strategy and then a clear roadmap to achieving their targets and goals.