We have an interview with Jeanine Tijhaar, CFO of Eneco, on the risks in the energy transition, compliance, finance, digitalisation and leadership. ‘An integrated approach to managing all the risks in the supply chain is the only correct one. Sustainability is of course a part of that.’
‘The One Planet plan is at the heart of our organisation,’ said Jeanine at the start of our conversation. ‘Of course, we are helping our customers to become more sustainable and we are engaged in a radical electrification process to get homes away from using gas for example, but finance is also an important issue in achieving our sustainability targets. When considering acquisitions, investments and portfolio decisions, we look at CO2 as well as financial ratios. This holistic approach helps us. Another example is the financing of Eneco, where the achievement of sustainability KPIs has led to a discount on our loan. This has created a win-win, with lower costs and thus a better basis for putting the company’s funding on a sound footing.’
We manage our risks with an integrated approach in the cloud.
Impact of the energy transition
‘The impact of the energy transition is significant. For instance, take the weather in combination with today’s high prices. Fluctuations in temperature or wind can now have a greater effect on our results. Because Eneco is an integrated energy business, we are better able to cope with fluctuations in our result than other parties who only sell energy. In the coming years, electricity generation will increasingly come from sustainable sources such as wind and solar energy; this will increase the importance of flexible assets in coping with imbalances. We now have various flex assets in our portfolio supporting network stability. And we will continue to invest in this,’ adds Jeanine.
Compliance and risk management
Jeanine Tijhaar: ‘The arrival of our new shareholder has led to a project to become J-SOx-compliant in addition to our existing control measures. Explicitly, this means that all our internal controls relating to financial reporting must be demonstrably watertight. There also will have to be regular reporting on the design and operation of these controls. In combination with our risk framework (COSO-ERM), in which we ask all our managers on the basis of self-assessment to manage their strategic and operational risks optimally and integrally in relation to risk areas such as safety, integrity & compliance, financial and reputational & quality, I believe we are truly in control.’
Eneco’s DNA is characterised by ahigh degree of care when it comes to data security.
Data, cyber risks and digital trust
Jeanine continues: ‘I think it’s also important to mention that we do not see risk solely as something we have to deal with – we also see this as an opportunity to create value. Cyber security is a good example, as rather than trying to exclude all risks we now focus more on cyber resilience and digital trust. We used to manage cyber security by putting up numerous separate ‘Berlin walls’ and firewalls, but now we manage these risks with an integrated approach in the cloud, on the basis of the statutory requirements of the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). This has substantially increased our cyber resilience. It’s about the extent to which our customers really trust us digitally and are prepared to accept solutions from cyber technology. This could for example involve remote operation of solar panels or an e-boiler. If you develop a proposition on this basis, this can be financially beneficial for our customers and for us. Trust is an essential element here.’
‘Eneco is rapidly transitioning into a strategic data business. We have millions of data, and this puts us in a better position to guide the energy transition in the right direction. We have energy data from our customers, financial data, marketing data, trading data, data on our assets and more. A high degree of care when it comes to data security is in Eneco’s DNA. Our organisation’s senior management is intentionally setting a good example in this respect, with an intensive training course on data security planned for our full Supervisory Board and Management Board in the near future. All Eneco employees are also given regular training on this. Finally, as we are part of the critical infrastructure of the Netherlands, we have multiple innovative back-up and back-to-start systems in place. As a whole, this package of integrated measures creates digital trust and we are turning the drawbacks of cyber security into value.’
Financial stability and financial trust
‘Eneco is a financially strong and stable business,’ says Jeanine. ‘We recently obtained objective confirmation of this from the rating agency Standard & Poor’s, with a stand-alone rating of BBB+ and together with our parent Mitsubishi, actually an A- rating. Strategically, financial trust is a very important issue for companies in the energy sector. It means we can reduce our funding costs, which in turn helps to accelerate the energy transition and thus realise our growth targets.’
Strategically, financial trust is a very important issue for companies in the energy sector.
Caring and Daring
‘As CFO, I – like all the other Eneco employees – want to make a personal contribution to our energy transition. I see our One Planet strategy as a form of daring leadership, as we have set challenging goals for ourselves. We can achieve them through caring leadership, optimal cooperation, listening to each other and having understanding for each other’s points of view. This applies in our own organisation, as well as with our customers, the government and our chain partners. Strategic alliances are becoming more important, such as the cooperation with the government and parties such as Gasunie, Shell and Stedin. We can be successful if we manage collectively to integrate a daring and caring approach.’
I am consciously committed to creating a safe culture.
Diversity and inclusivity
As a female leader, Jeanine is consciously committed to create a safe culture in which everyone can be themselves regardless of origin, ethnicity, faith or gender. ‘Eneco wants to be a better reflection of society than it is today. The Board regularly discusses the issue of unconscious bias. This means unconscious prejudices or social stereotypes regarding people outside our own conscious awareness. Everyone has unconscious opinions about various social and identity groups. By reflecting society, we will be better positioned to realise our goals. We can only have an impact by acting together. A good thing in this context is the encouragement from young employees grouped in Young Eneco to further accelerate the energy transition, and another thing I like is that I am part of a group of leading women at Eneco that looks at how we in our role as women can increase our impact.’ The CFO ended the interview on an enthusiastic note: ‘All in all, I have really the best job in the Netherlands.’
Click here for the Eneco Annual Report 2021 website.