What were the biggest challenges Schneider Electric faced over the last year?
Obviously, the last year was extremely segmented. The fates of the world’s countries were very different from one place to another. We had to keep adapting to everything that was happening. There were a few turbulences, of course, and we had to adapt everywhere.
However, I would say that we haven’t changed one thing in the way that we’re driving our business in the Middle East.
We’ve kept investing, kept developing, kept building our positions. This is what we’ve been doing (over the last year).
We’ve kept on recruiting people, kept developing people and kept developing our relationship with customers, as well as pushing more possibilities with our customers.
How aware is the region about the benefits of sustainable technology?
For the GCC, one of the very strong points for Schneider has always been the building industry. This is a region where we have done a lot, are doing a lot and will continue to do a lot.
(But) the big change in the last few years has been a willingness to make buildings efficient, which really was not the focus before.
There’s a mobilization around the region, especially in Abu Dhabi, on carbon emissions and sustainable development. This also ties into the value of a building; a building that is technological is more comfortable and has more value on the market than a usual, ordinary building.
However, there is a very clear commitment to Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan’s vision of sustainable development.
There is a big willingness to experiment and deploy big technologies to create something that is really new.
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What needs to be done to ensure that energy efficient products are successful?
Firstly, we have to pick the right partners to do things with. The company doesn’t like doing things alone. We like doing things in partnership, which differentiates us from our competitors, but we’ve always operated with selected and picked partners.
We have plenty of interesting contacts with people, from investors to builders to contractors, those who want to build a different type of building or revamp existing ones.
The second thing is about training people, because we speak about energy efficiency, we speak about renewable sources of energy on the roof, we speak about super security in hospitals and data centres, but not many people have been trained in these new disciplines.
The convergence of energy and IT dates back to the last 5 or 10 years. There are no real schools or universities teaching it, but Masdar is trying to fill the gap, but it’s a new initiative, so support from the government is essential.
What are your plans for the coming year?
This is one of the most exciting markets in the world, even if it has been a bit quieter recently.
It is the place where you have the most modern of constructions, the most modern of plans, there are plenty of things happening.
So our plan here is to invest in resources, to invest in talent and invest in applications.
To invest in something with capabilities for builders, investors, architects and service companies, so that they can leverage our technology.
We’ve been here during the good times and the bad, and we’ve always stayed, we’ve always developed and we’ve always invested (in it) and we’ll continue to do so.
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