Ian Johnston, CEO of charging network Osprey on questioning the head of MI5 about conspiracy theories over dinner, a fiercely competitive fantasy football league as a stress reliever and how working in EV infrastructure is a natural home for him.
- Favourite holiday destination? There is a resort in Thessaloniki, Greece which is perfect for families with toddlers which we loved visiting with our two young daughters in the times before lockdown. My youngest was just 10 months when we were last able to visit, so we would love to be able to get back out there at some point now that both girls are older so we could enjoy warm evening dinners and days in the pool and sea with them.
- What car do you drive? Osprey runs a salary sacrifice scheme for the team to drive EVs, so I am currently driving an Audi eTron, because the space is essential for the double buggy and travel cot! I keep telling myself that one day we won’t need all the gear and maybe then we can look at a Model 3, or a Mustang Mach-E?!
- How and when did you get into this industry? I spent the first 8 years of my career at Volkswagen UK, before then spending 8 years at Temporis building one of the UK’s largest portfolios of wind and solar farms – so EV infrastructure was a natural home for me to combine both experiences into an exciting new space. Building the renewables portfolio was all about securing leases in the best locations, and delivering complicated grid solutions – so a perfect training ground for deploying one of the UK’s largest EV charging networks.
- How can we encourage more people into the industry? We are very fortunate that whenever we have a new role we are inundated with amazing talent that is looking to move into the ‘cleantech’ space. In today’s world people want to work in a business that has a true purpose and is adding value to society and a business that offers them personal growth, and the exploding work of EV and sustainability offers all of this.
- What are your industry predictions for the next 12 months? After the acceleration of the 2030 diesel and petrol ban, 2021 will be the year where the UK’s spending behaviour shifts sharply towards electric vehicles, and this will in turn place a huge emphasis on local authorities and retail business to initiate tender processes awarding contract for EV infrastructure to the proven network operators.
- What is the strangest or most challenging job you have done? Whilst at school I worked in a well-known chain of pet shops and each Saturday afternoon had to complete a stock take of livestock – literally counting thousands of tropical fish, tarantulas and snakes. I don’t know if that played any role in helping my career, but it certainly qualifies as strange.
- If you had your time again would you have followed the same career path? Without a doubt – I feel very fortunate to have received the development opportunities that a global giant like Volkswagen invests in its people, and then to have worked in a small and dynamic business like Temporis (who also created Ohme) where you can earn such responsibility at a relatively junior stage in your career.
- If you had been reincarnated, who or what do you think you were in a past life? Having recently enjoyed The Crown, I was particularly interested in Lord Altrincham who modernised the way the Royal family engages the British public. From my days of working with Volkswagen car dealers, I have always been passionate about new ways to engage people to take them on a journey, and think this is more important than ever with those both inside and outside our industry as the UK transitions from fossil to renewable sources of energy.
- If you could invite four people to a dinner party – living or dead – who would they be – and why?
– Elon Musk: Please can you write down the vehicle product development pipeline for the next 10 years….
– Kamala Harris: I would love to be able to for her advice on what I can do to help my daughters be strong, independent, happy women in today’s world;
– Sir Andrew Parker (former Head of MI5): I have picked the former Head of MI5 on the grounds that one presumes the current Head won’t give much away, but he can certainly satisfy my interest in all things Spooks and espionage, as well as addressing a few conspiracy theories I can’t move on from yet…
– Jose Mourinho: What a leader, what a giant personality. I love the way he can inspire, infuriate and drive a reaction form people through the words that he chooses to use.
- What are your passions outside the workplace? Having two young daughters while growing the Osprey business hasn’t left a lot of spare time in the last three years, but my stress release is a fiercely competitive fantasy football league, complimented with being an appalling but content golfer.
- If they made a film about your life who would play you? I have been on the receiving end of a few look-a-likies (not all complimentary), but Martin Sheen seems to come up a lot so that can’t be bad at all.
- Describe yourself in five words? Passionate, energetic, collaborative, and ‘still learning’.
This article first appeared in the launch issue of Modern Fleet magazine.
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