CEDA member profile: ABB



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Simon De Bell,  Country Business Development Manager, ABB Australia

What does your company do?

ABB is a power and automation company that uses its understanding of energy networks, industrial and discrete manufacturing processes to deploy energy efficient technologies and engineered systems which provide grid stability, integrate diverse energy sources and enhance productivity for a better world.

What is your role in the company?

I am responsible for the Business Development and Account Management functions, understanding market trends, negotiating strategic alliances, and working with the different product groups to provide integrated solutions that deliver value to customers. In the past two years I have focused on government energy policy, development in renewable energy technologies, and the growth in microgrid applications. I am a member of the Country Executive team, heavily involved in the company’s Indigenous reconciliation activities, and its mentoring programme for engineering graduates.

Who is your favourite/most influential speaker at a CEDA event?

My initial degree discipline is economics therefore I have always enjoyed CEDA’s State of the Nation events which provide an insight into the key issues and policy choices in the economy. However the most influential speaker was Elizabeth Broderick, former Sex Discrimination Commissioner talking passionately in front of a packed hall of senior business leaders about the ongoing challenges that Australia faces in ensuring that there is equal access to opportunities regardless of gender. ABB is actively encouraging greater female participation in all leadership roles, consciously seeks gender balance in all recruitment short lists and makes development opportunities available for all based on ability. However we have also recognised the need to challenge some of our preconceived ideas on what attributes are critical for the vacancies that we have, and ensure that the work environment is conducive to greater female participation.

How does CEDA help your company understand/meet challenges and opportunities you or your clients face?

ABB values the balanced and carefully thought through perspectives that CEDA brings to the key issues facing the Australian economy. CEDA has the networks to assemble thought leaders and senior members of government to openly discuss matters of policy in a public forum. ABB has sponsored CEDA Energy Series for the past three years during a period of great change in the energy sector with an increase in consumer choice, the international pressure to take effective action against greenhouse gas emission, focus on energy cost, ownership change and the emergence of newer technologies and energy providers challenging the traditional model of centralised generation, transmission and distribution. These events have proved a great forum in which to air different perspectives, discuss frankly the critical issues, and start to work through the implications of a profound structural change in the energy sector.

What are your company's top priorities for the coming year?

ABB benefited from the resource spending boom over the period 2010 to 2014, using it to increase its regional presence, as well as invest in new technologies that positioned it for further growth as the economy adjusted to a different investment profile which is more reliant on growth in infrastructure, the food and drink sector, and the emerging opportunities represented by the third wave of the IT revolution. Globally, ABB is one of the leaders embracing the opportunities arising from the Internet of Things. In Australia we already have the capabilities to remotely monitor the performance and energy consumption of equipment in isolated locations, on the factory floor and in the most modern datacenter. ABB continues to work with oil and gas and mining companies to help them maximise the value of their investments by ensuring that their electrical and automation assets are operating reliably, and providing the information required for management decision making. At the same time we continue to push forward in the emergent technologies area, proving the commercial viability of renewable energy and battery storage systems as an alternative to the traditional model of investment in poles and wires to provide power to remote communities, to increase the utilisation of wind farms or utility scale PV investments, and to stabilise energy networks.