With a background as an engineer and a lawyer in the U.S. utility industry, Britt Ide is highly in demand for board roles.
She is a board director of U.S. utility company NorthWestern Energy; a board director of not-for-profit Coalition for Green Capital; an Advisory Board member of research centre the Energy Policy Institute; a board director of research body Hotrock Energy Research Organization; President and CEO of her own energy consultancy Ide Energy and Strategy; and, most recently she joined the global Advisory Board of London-based green energy tech company Reactive Technologies.
Here she explains what attracted her to Reactive Technologies and why she is committed to helping the next generation of women leaders.
What was it that appealed to you about Reactive Technologies?
They were looking for someone in the U.S. who could help connect them to the energy market and I was a really good fit. I joke that my super-power is connecting people and ideas. When I saw the posting I knew that I could help connect Reactive with customers in the U.S. and help them grow.
I was also excited about the opportunity to learn more about working on an international Advisory Board and to work with people based all over the world. This morning, for example, we had an Advisory Board update call. We got an update on what’s going on in Australia, and Asia and Europe and the U.S. It’s a great experience.
It’s unusual to have such an international board, how do you manage the geographical and time differences?
The timing is challenging. We did today’s call at 6.30 in the morning my time, it was around midday in Europe, early evening in Singapore and for the poor guy in Australia it was 11.30 at night. And once a year we meet in person in London. The international makeup of the board, however, brings such a great diversity of thought, which really helps us to think about how different places are approaching things.
And the good thing about Reactive Technologies is that the calls are at 6.30 in the morning so it doesn’t conflict with my other U.S. calls! It also helps that we schedule our calls and meetings way in advance, as you can imagine trying to get four executives based across the world together is pretty hard. We’ve made it work though and it’s been great.
The CEO and the Chair of the Fiduciary Board are both really involved in the Advisory Board too and I think this is a great way to connect the Advisory Board with the traditional Board. They are looking at financing and investing and making sure that our Advisory Board is working on growing sales and contacts. It’s a good structure.
How different is an Advisory board role to a more traditional NED role?
I sit on a standard board for a utility where it is more formal, more governance focused, there is a lot of fiduciary work involved and very intense time and data analysis. This Advisory Board role has less of a focus on governance and fiduciary issues. It has more of a sales and connections focus. It’s a nice compliment to my fiduciary board work.
How did you find out about the role?
I had been following Nurole for a while and I’ve been impressed with the platform. When I saw this role I was super excited and actually later that day another friend forwarded it to me and said it sounds perfect for you. Nurole was fantastic to work with. I particularly appreciated the updates that Nurole gives, which is better than other platforms, and then a call was quickly arranged with the CEO and then Chair of the board. It was a straightforward process, all done over the phone.
You are also a member of the Morgan Stanley Women Energy Directors Network how did you get involved in that?
Morgan Stanley invites women who serve on the board of directors of public utility companies to join and I was invited that way. It has been extremely valuable because they bring in great speakers that are very relevant to our business, but what is especially helpful is that connection and contact and conversation with other women on other boards, specifically applicable to public utilities.
Do you think there is still a need for female directors’ networks?
There is definitely a need. I am also a member of Women Corporate Directors, which is an international group and I find that there is a huge willingness to help each other.
Plus, I am an Ambassador for the C3E program, a clean energy, education and empowerment programme that is all about how you promote women in clean energy in mid-career. I found it incredibly useful earlier in my career when I had young children and was trying to balance life and working in a male-dominated energy environment. Having that network and sitting in a room with 200 amazing women who were doing great things in clean energy was so empowering for me. It meant that I could say, okay I can do this, there is a great network of support for me.
It is only a slight exaggeration to say that that’s what really kept me in the industry, so I am super passionate about giving back to that organisation and helping women get the support that they need.
I do think that there is a definite need for these groups. But I also feel that engaging with men is important too. I also work with 2020 Women on Boards, an advocacy group to help get women on boards, and one of the things that we have really shifted to is instead of just having a female-focused event, is including men too, because there are so many great men that are mentors, sponsors and advocates for diversities. As we think about diversity, we need to think about the importance of engaging discussion with men too.
And now for some quick-fire questions…
What’s the book that has had the most influence on you?
To Kill A Mocking Bird, I love that book and its message about justice.
Do you have a favourite quote?
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead
What is your favourite holiday destination?
Do you have a favourite app?
Insight Timer, a meditation app
When does your alarm go off and how many hours of sleep do you have on average?
My alarm goes off at 6.45am. I try to get around eight hours sleep. I am very high energy so I need to recharge and I make sleep a priority.
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