Now, more than ever, the consumer has to be at the heart of the design and development of any product

‘The Irish electricity grid needs to become even more dynamic’ says Neil Naughton, Executive Board Chairman, Glen Dimplex Group

9th January, 2020
Now, more than ever, the consumer has to be at the heart of the design and development of any product

What's your name?

Neil Naughton

What’s your current job?

Executive Board Chairman, Glen Dimplex Group

How long have you held the position?

I became Chairman of the Executive Board in the Glen Dimplex Group in 2019.

Can you describe your daily work routine?

I don’t have a normal daily work routine. I am based in our Head Office in Cloghran, Dublin but I am rarely there 5 days a week. I chair the monthly Executive Board Meeting and am also involved in other Group business cycle meetings such as the Quarterly Divisional Reviews which often take place on location in our sites around the world. I also work with the Executive Team in developing the Strategy for the Group. My role requires extensive international travel which I thoroughly enjoy. Life in Glen Dimplex is fast paced and dynamic and no two days are the same. This is one of the reasons I enjoy my job so much!

What is your professional background?

After graduating from UCD in 1991 I joined Glen Dimplex and worked in a number of roles in the UK, Germany, Ireland and Canada before attending Columbia University. After graduation in 1996, I assumed the role of Chief Executive Officer of Glen Dimplex Benelux, a post held for 4 years. In 2000, I was appointed Chief Executive of Glen Dimplex International.

In 2003, I joined the Board of the Glen Dimplex Group and had a special responsibility for International Business and in 2010 I became the Deputy Chairman. In 2019, I became Chairman of the Executive Board.

Tell me about yourself away from work?

I enjoy a busy life inside and out of work. I spend a lot of time in the US as I am on the Advisory Council of the Mendoza Business School at the University of Notre Dame and am currently the Chairman of the steering committee of the American College Football Classics. Spending quality time with friends and family is also a priority for me.

Tell us something very few people know about you?

I thoroughly believe that it is people that bind FDI investment in Ireland and our investment across the world. As an island nation not only do we value relationships, we depend upon them.

Ireland is the gateway to the Atlantic, the last outpost of Europe to the West, the point upon which the great trade routes between East and West converge. I take on many initiatives to establish and encourage Trans-Atlantic friendships. I currently chair the steering committee that arranges American Football games in Dublin and the founding chairman of the Boston College Ireland Business Council.

You are speaking at the forthcoming Power Summit in Croke Park. What is the focus of your talk?

I plan to focus on how new business models and strategic partnerships between multiple stakeholders in the energy sector that are needed to deliver innovative propositions which are of real interest to end-users. Drawing on Glen Dimplex’s extensive experience of R&D and commercial projects, I will explain how one of our innovative solutions – Smart Electric Thermal Storage (SETS) – can provide benefits to the electricity grid and wider energy ecosystem whilst also satisfying all customer needs in terms of cost, control and comfort. Now, more than ever, the consumer has to be at the heart of the design and development of any product and customer journey – I will share some insights in this area.

What do you see as the main challenges ahead for Ireland’s energy market within the next 5 years?

Tacking climate change is now at the heart of the global agenda and 2019 was a pivotal year in terms of firmly establishing the importance of transitioning to a low-carbon, more sustainable world. The Irish Government’s Climate Action Plan 2019 recognises this challenge, and the importance of redoubling efforts to meet the commitments of the Paris Agreement of 2015, and setting our island on a clear trajectory to becoming Net-Zero by 2050. The next 5 years will be critical for establishing a clear pathway to achieving this. For the electricity system, transformational change will be required – the Irish electricity grid can now cope with 65% renewables, but needs to become even more dynamic and agile to be able to accommodate new highs of renewable generation, transmission and distribution. This will require development of the grid infrastructure itself, but also the introduction of new, innovative technologies which can provide storage and flexibility. All of this will need to be tackled in a way which is cost-effective, consumer-centric and ensures stability and security of supply.

Can you comment on Brexit and the possible outlook for Ireland’s energy market?

Brexit has created uncertainty for all areas of the Irish economy, including the energy sector. This uncertainty has the potential to continue throughout the process of the UK’s withdrawal and the transition period, until the future relationship between the UK and the EU becomes clearer. The all-island Single Electricity Market is highly integrated, with a substantial flow of power between North and South, all operating within the framework of EU legislation. Ensuring security of supply and ongoing cross-border cooperation is, and will remain, a priority for Ireland in a post-Brexit scenario.

Neil will be speaking at the National Power Summit, Thursday 30th January 2020, Croke Park, Dublin.

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