At FOR:EV, our culture is embodied by our dedicated team. They encourage collaboration and openness by sharing their knowledge and insights. In this series, we introduce you to some of our key team members and highlight how their skills positively impact not only FOR:EV but our industry, as a whole.
Next in the series is Neil Wilson, our Operations Manager. Neil’s journey with FOR:EV began after an impressive 35-year career with SSE. His transition to Operations Manager reflects his wealth of experience and expertise, especially in project management and technical coordination.
What did you do before you joined FOR:EV and what led you to your role as Operations Manager?
Before joining FOR:EV, I spent 35 years at SSE. I started my career there as a graduate trainee after gaining my degree in Electrical Engineering and progressed through various technical roles, delivering energy solutions and managing complex projects. In the latter 15 years at SSE I started moving into management and eventually became the Head of Region for North Scotland.
Believe it or not, I was retired before joining FOR:EV. An old colleague had reached out to let me know about the work they were doing and asked if I knew anybody that may be interested in being a part of the team. Initially, he didn’t think of me, as I was retired, but after hearing more I agreed to get involved for an initial six weeks whilst they found somebody – two years later, I’m still here! Once I saw the development and growth potential, combined with the talented team, it’s something I wanted to be a part of.
As Operations Manager at FOR:EV, I get to draw on my extensive experience to handle project management, provide technical expertise, and work closely with key suppliers. My responsibilities include key decision-making, particularly in the selection of equipment. Working closely to foster our relationships with suppliers, such as Kempower, provides an open dialogue, allowing us to feedback on products and fine-tune any issues, ensuring we are getting the best for our clients.
How important are the operations team at FOR:EV?
The operations team plays a crucial role in the delivery of our EV charging solutions, from conception to implementation. As the industry evolves, our role becomes increasingly vital in navigating complexities, ensuring seamless integration of our services, and contributing to the overall growth and reputation of FOR:EV.
What’s your favourite part of being part of the FOR:EV team?
Coming from one of the biggest companies in the UK, at SSE, although I was fairly high up within the business, I had far less flexibility and freehand there. At FOR:EV I’ve got more scope and feel my input is more valued.
Within larger companies, decisions need to be reviewed and can often be drawn out due to bureaucracy and lengthy authorisation processes. Within the smaller team here, we have the expertise and a more flat-line structure that allows us to action decisions with a far more efficient timeline.
How is FOR:EV adapting to the changes in the EV landscape and what technical challenges have you overcome?:
There are rapid advancements in the EV landscape and FOR:EV are making strategic decisions, such as installing larger substations, to align with these future goals. We are also purchasing equipment and selecting technology partners to future-proof upcoming sites, considering the ever-evolving nature of the industry.
Alongside these strategic decisions, the team ensure that knowledge and lessons-learnt are consistently shared with their colleagues in training sessions,so that valuable insights can be applied across projects.
With the changing landscape, curveballs are to be expected, so it’s crucial to work collaboratively with our partners and suppliers to build the best possible foundation for the EV future. For example, on one of our projects we discovered a different type of meter had been installed, leading to potential cost escalations. However, using a collaborative approach that involved key stakeholders, we navigated through the challenges to find a viable solution – a real testament to all parties involved.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever heard?
“Don’t sweat the small stuff.” It’s so easy to get hung up on the small things and start losing perspective on the bigger picture. You can end up losing sleep with worry, but when you step back from anything, it’s not really that important in the grand scale of things so it’s important not to get bogged down by the minor issues.
Films or books?
Without a doubt, books. Some of the best books I’ve read have been ‘A Handful of Dust’ by Evelyn Waugh, ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ by John Steinbeck and even the Lord of the Rings series when I was younger.
What was your first ever job?
Picking spuds when I was a kid. Kids don’t do that nowadays but when I was young it was a way for us to earn pocket money. At the age of about 10 or 11, during the school holidays, I was out on the farm hand-picking potatoes, broccoli, fruit, all sorts! It taught me routine, responsibility and discipline.
What’s something many people don’t know about you?
Something a lot of people don’t know about me is that I hold a pilot’s licence. I was a cadet when I was at school and there was a flying scholarship that was incredibly hard to get into as it had gruelling medical and aptitude tests spread out over a couple of days. Only 30 people were put forward from across the UK and out of those, only three were selected for the scholarship. I was incredibly fortunate to be one of the three selected and went on to achieve my private pilot’s licence (PPL).