Director for Energy and Utilities
With carbon reduction the single biggest long-term challenge facing the infrastructure industry, Mace’s Director for Energy and Utilities, Javid Khaliq, is using his experience in the sectors that are at the forefront of tackling the challenge to help make a positive change. From tried and tested technology such as solar panels, to emerging innovations such as hydrogen fuels, Javid and his team are building a portfolio of projects and programmes to be proud of.
- How did you get into what you do?
As a child I was fascinated by infrastructure. I remember watching a documentary on the construction of the Hoover Dam and, at that moment, deciding I wanted to be an engineer. Fast forward a few years and, following a degree in civil engineering, I joined Severn Trent’s graduate scheme, working on the structural design of various infrastructure assets – it included inspecting the dam portfolio, proving dreams can come true!
For a change of scenery, I moved into the telecoms sector. I had some amazing experiences – ranging from leading on the roll-out of a third of the UK’s 3G network, to working for a television broadcaster in Qatar – but decided to get back to utilities after a while. I wanted to build my understanding of the energy sector and so I joined the National Grid Electricity Alliance East, before moving on to lead a consultant team delivering major electrify transmission projects around the world, and then joining Mace.
- What do you enjoy most about your current role at Mace?
Mace truly believes in and backs entrepreneurship among every single one of its people. The attitude of ‘anything is possible’ runs throughout the company and gives me the autonomy to innovate and develop my part of the business in a way that supports my aspirations, but also embodies Mace’s vision, mission and values.
I also really enjoy the collaborative environment. A lot of companies have to work hard to break down silos, but Mace has done a great job of not letting them form in the first place. There is a genuine spirit of cooperation and shared goals that I haven’t witnessed elsewhere.
- What has been your proudest achievement at Mace?
- The way my team responded in the peak of the COVID-19 lockdown was phenomenal. The proactive collaboration with other parts of the Mace business in order to capture best practice and then share it with clients to help them through the crisis was fantastic. What’s more, we had a number of people embedded within client organisations and categorised as key workers – identified because of their critical role in keeping the water flowing, gas burning and lights shining. I’m so proud of everyone who stepped up to make a difference during a time of need.
- What skills do you need to be good at your job?
- I think the most important thing a leader needs to be capable of is creating an environment that enables their people to do their job to the best of their ability. It requires a whole host of different skills (and not always the same combination), but I’ve found that maintaining a positive attitude and effectively communicating with my teams is the best way of achieving this. If you create the right environment, you’ll see more collaboration, greater trust, better performance and a happier team.
- What advice would you give to someone looking to get into what you do?
My advice would be to take the time to fully understand what you need to put in, to get out what you want. You’ll have to work hard to be successful and, therefore, you have to be comfortable that the reward will be worth the effort.
I’d also say be flexible in your approach and remain open to a wide variety of experiences. Nine times out of ten it will be a positive experience; the one time it isn’t, take that as a lesson learned and move forward.
- What do you hope you will be doing in the next 5-10 years?
The burning of coal, natural gas, and oil for electricity and heat is the largest single source of global greenhouse gas emissions and this needs to change. We have to move to green energy solutions and I want Mace to deliver more of this critical infrastructure. We’re already active on solar, wind, and clean gas projects in the UK – all of which are having a positive impact – but there’s so much scope for us to grow in this area.
Mace is well and truly on the net zero carbon journey and my focus over the coming years will be making sure that our energy business is set up to not only support, but proactively encourage clients to take giant strides in this space. It will need innovation and progressive thinking, but it’s a challenge I relish and it’s an integral part of my ambition to position Mace as the delivery partner of choice across all areas of the energy and utilities sectors.
- Why is the decarbonisation agenda so important to you?
- As someone who strives to be at the forefront of my industry, it’s important for me to not only be abreast of the key trends, but be proactive in driving the narrative. The fact that decarbonisation is critical to the future health of our planet makes me even more committed to tackling the issue head on. Being involved in projects that strive for a greener future – whether that’s through tried and tested technology, such as solar panels, or emerging concepts such hydrogen storage and use – really excites me and I regard myself as being very fortunate to work in a sector that gives me so many opportunities to make a difference.
- What are you passionate about outside of work?
- I do a lot of altitude hiking and have been on various expeditions with my friends all over the world. Particular highlights include Kilimanjaro, Mont Blanc, the Atlas Mountains, Machu Picchu and Everest base camp.
“Mace is well and truly on the net zero carbon journey and my focus over the coming years will be making sure that our energy business is set up to not only support, but proactively encourage clients to take giant strides in this space.”