Welcome Geoff Jue, Expert in the Digital Utility Community- [an Energy Central Power Perspectives™ Interview]
- Nov 29, 2021 12:57 pm GMT
The Internet of Things, the smart grid, the digital utility, grid modernization—these concepts have become so widely discussed in the utility sector that they often risk turning into meaningless buzzwords that lose their core meaning. But when looking to the true leaders in the power industry, you’ll quickly see that these aren’t throwaway words, but rather are the future of energy. As such, following industry experts and listening to what they’re seeing in these trends becomes critical to practical implementation of these types of opportunities.
At Energy Central, we offer you the chance to do just that via our widely respected Network of Experts, leaders across the utility sector that offer the Energy Central Community with an inside peek into the high-level discussions taking place by energy industry experts. And today we have the great pleasure of introducing the latest industry leader who has agreed to be a part of that network, Geoff Jue. Geoff is the Vice President and Sector Head of Energy, Natural Resources, Utilities, Engineering & Construction at Wipro, and with a career filled with identifying and implementing breakthrough new technology to utility ecosystems, he’s well qualified as a member of our Digital Utility community.
To welcome Geoff to the Network of Experts, we wanted to introduce him to the community with an iteration of our Energy Central Power Perspective ‘Welcome New Expert Interview Series.’
Matt Chester: As one of our newest experts in the Energy Central Community, this interview is the best way to ‘introduce’ you to the group and let your peers know what exactly makes you an expert in the digital utility space. So, can you start at a high level just by telling us a bit about your background, how you got into the world of utilities, and what your role is today?
Geoff Jue: My entire 40-year career has been associated with the Energy and Utilities Industry. One of my first jobs out of college was a Power Engineer for Pacific Gas & Electric Co. I fell in love with the industry quickly thereafter. I spent 18 years in various executive positions at PG&E Corporation running T&D operations, customer service, and retail operations for its unregulated business.
My last 22 years have been in management consulting leading global and regional utility practices comprising sales, solutions, marketing, and delivery for IBM, Accenture, HCL, and Wipro. I’ve also served as CIO to Xcel Energy for 3 years. Today, I’m the Vice President and Sector Head of ENU (Energy, Natural Resources, Utilities, Engineering & Operations) for Wipro Limited.
MC: As you’ve watched the digital technologies for the grid grow and evolve over the past decade, what do you think is the most important consideration for a utility who hasn’t really started their digital journey? What selling point are they most missing out on by delaying?
GJ: The most important consideration for utilities who are starting their digital journey is to focus on what business outcomes they are trying to achieve. Given the traditional silos that utilities were organized around, there’s tremendous value that can be delivered to shareholders, employees, and customers alike by running the business via optimized processes, a single version of the truth, more accurate real time information, and aligned outcomes. Digitization enables utilities to move from being asset focused to information centric. This unlocks value and creates new businesses that have yet to be dreamed of. In addition, it enables companies to more readily adapt to change and navigate the threats of competitive forces.
MC: Before moving to the solutions side of the business, you spent a long period working at utilities, including PG&E and Xcel. How do you think your time working in the utility organizations has shaped your ability to best assist your customers in that space?
GJ: Growing up on the client side of the business has given me an ideal perspective as an IT service provider. I understand how utilities operate, how they make money, what challenges they face, and more importantly, how technology can be leveraged to drive value for the business. It allows me to focus first on the business, and business outcomes, not just delivering projects on time and on budget.
Being a client advocate, I always question if there’s a better way to deliver the outcomes the client is aspiring to achieve and how program impacts other parts of the business. I’ve also benefitted from working for numerous Tier 1 IT Service firms with differing approaches and capabilities. The actual solution is often times not as important as how the solution is implemented. I’ve also learned that it’s much better to take action in a direction with the best information you have at the time rather than wait. You’ll always be incrementally closer to your vision by advancing than standing still.
MC: From the recent Infrastructure Bill to COP26, the energy focus is under the microscope for how it can best meet customer needs while being a good shepherd to the environment. How can digital technologies like computing, automation, and robotics contribute to these efforts?
GJ: These digital technologies are what’s needed to turn the analog utility industry of the past to the digital utility of the future. The paradigm of centralized generation and one-way flow of electricity has evolved to one of decentralized and distributed generation and two-way flow of electricity. This requires a real-time infrastructure that is more resilient while allowing third parties and even clients to participate in the energy exchange.
Companies and the public are also more aware of the financial trade-offs associated with reliability, security, and the carbon footprint associated with differing sources of fuel and generation. Digital technologies such as automation and robotics will allow utilities to free up valuable resources from their already aging workforce to focus on pertinent challenges, such as COP26 and the energy transition.
MC: As an expert in the Energy Central Community, we’re excited about you bringing your insights and experiences for the rest of our members to benefit from. How would you summarize the unique perspective and value you’ll be bringing to the community?
GJ: I’ve emersed myself in this critical industry for the past 40 years, both as a client and a service provider – with the common aim of providing safe, reliable, responsive service to customers at a fair and reasonable price. I’ve learned from some of the best leaders in the utility ecosystem and am humbled by the folks who dedicate their lives to make ours more comfortable, affordable, and convenient. Studying under W. Edwards Deming in the early 1990s changed my perspective on leadership, quality control and systems thinking. And finally, growing up in a loving family and one of nine kids taught me how the sum of the parts is greater than the whole. The unique perspective I bring to the Energy Central Community is the ability to see the industry challenges and solutions from all sides and offer outcomes that are win-win for all participants involved.
MC: Looking ahead towards the rest of your career, what are the biggest problems you hope to help solve?
GJ: The utilities industry is facing more change and disruption in the coming decade than it’s seen in the past hundred years. The health of this industry has a direct impact on the economic stability and security of our nation. It is paramount that we develop an energy policy that supports a more sustainable, reliable, resilient, secure energy infrastructure that serves the need of its constituents and planet for the next hundred years and beyond. The bigger challenge may be that that even with a common vision, we have tens of thousands of individual utilities, stakeholders, and regulatory bodies in this country that will have to implement this change.
Thanks to Geoff Jue for joining me for this interview and for providing a wealth of insights an expertise to the Energy Central Community. You can trust that Geoff will be available for you to reach out and connect, ask questions, and more as an Energy Central member, so be sure to make him feel welcome when you see her across the platform.
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