Career Insight: Philip Fjeld

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Philip Fjeld, chief executive of major biomethane supplier CNG Fuels, shares his career insights

Philip Fjeld, chief executive of CNG Fuels. Picture: CNG Fuels
Philip Fjeld, chief executive of CNG Fuels. Picture: CNG Fuels
What is your current role?

I am the founder of CNG Fuels, the UK market leader for the supply of CNG (compressed natural gas) for commercial vehicles.

We have switched our entire supply to renewable biomethane, making it a cost-effective solution to cutting road transport carbon emissions, 35% to 40% cheaper than diesel and emitting 70% less CO2, well to wheel.

Our customers include Waitrose and we are developing a nationwide network of CNG stations.

What helped you get where you are in your career?

As an entrepreneur, enjoying working long hours and being open-minded are perhaps the features that have been of most importance in getting me to where I am now

Who have been your role-models and mentors?

I haven’t really had any specific business related role-models or mentors. A sound work ethic is something that has been of great value to me, and I suspect this is something that has been instilled in me by my mother

What qualifications are the most necessary or most beneficial in the renewables sector?

A business-related engineering degree.

What have been the stumbling blocks or barriers along the way, and how did you adapt to these challenges?

Attracting (and retaining) the right mix of shareholders is critical when setting up a business. CNG Fuels is the second company I have founded and lessons learnt from founding my first company have been implemented this time around.

What have been the pivotal moments in the field?

We are a biomethane-for-transport focused company and we are only now seeing indications of how large this industry can one day become. Supplying a sustainable and renewable fuel for the HGV sector is not only about building refuelling infrastructure.

We have also spent a lot of time working with various parties to make sure vehicles are fit for purpose and with biomethane suppliers to piece together documentation around supplying biomethane for transport.

That said, without suitable vehicles, hauliers would not be able to move from using diesel to a cleaner and more sustainable fuel. The vehicles have now started to arrive, with a lot more being launched over the coming six to 18 months.

What stages of your career have been the most rewarding?

Meeting interesting people from a wide variety of companies has been, and continues to be, the most rewarding part of my job. I am very much in an outward facing role, where no day is the same

How do you get the most out of your team and colleagues? 

I am very focused on delegating responsibilities. If you can’t trust someone to do a job right, then you shouldn’t have hired them in the first place. I am also a great fan of a flat organisational structure, where everyone can contribute, irrespective of role or position. The chief executive is ultimately the boss, but having a senior title does not necessarily always mean you are right.

What happens on a typical day at CNG Fuels?

I have an outward facing role, where I am typically meeting existing or new customers at least 50% of the time. I am also involved in discussions with government and industry associations. The rest of the time is largely spent on day-to-day activities related to running a business.

Where do you think there are the most job opportunities in the sector? 

Difficult question to answer briefly. The renewables sector is growing and evolving rapidly, and will require people with a wide range of skill sets. More specifically for the biomethane sector, the traditional focus has been on producing and supplying biomethane to decarbonise domestic heating.

There is also an increased awareness and focus on utilising biomethane in the transport sector, which is a very hard sector to decarbonise, and then in particular on decarbonising HGVs. This is a niche application that is moving ahead quickly, with some great career opportunities emerging.

Is sustainability really becoming embedded in corporate culture and careers? 

To some extent yes, but there is still a way to go. There are still companies and people who do not “walk the walk”. All cultural changes take time and although there is still some change required, good progress is being made.

What other advice do you have for people about to embark on a career as a green entrepreneur?

Patience, dedication and being open-minded makes all the difference.

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