Meet the Turquoise team: Ian Thomas

19 Jun 2017 | Ian Thomas

Turquoise team members share their thoughts on business issues and give some career insights.

 

Business

What has been the most significant technological development of recent years?

Although perhaps more in the realm of manufacturing, the reduction in cost of wind turbines and, in particular, solar modules has had a huge impact on the deployment of renewables globally. In terms of pure technology, the increasing electrification of the automotive sector, from mild hybrids to full EVs, is impressive.

What has been the most influential legislative change in recent years?

If the Paris accord counts as legislation then, notwithstanding the US withdrawal, that is a significant milestone. Global automotive emissions and fuel efficiency regulations are also very important. Less known but also globally significant is the IMO Ballast Water Convention which requires ships to eliminate potentially harmful aquatic organisms from their ballast water discharges. And we should not underestimate the impact of changes occurring at the micro level, in the form of product standards, packaging regulations, energy efficiency requirements and so on.

How do you see the legislative environment changing through to 2040/2050?

I would like to believe that it will continue to improve from an environmental perspective and that fossil industries, starting with coal and progressing to oil and gas, will ultimately be eliminated or have their emissions mitigated through carbon capture.

How has the perception of cleantech, energy, environment and efficiency evolved in your view in recent years? What do you envisage for the future of the sector?

At Turquoise, we focus on industrial technology and avoid referring to cleantech simply because of negative investor experience in that sector. We believe that all industrial innovation has to be cleaner and more efficient otherwise it is not commercial.

From an investment point of view, what do you see as the key challenges for emerging technologies attracting finance? How do you see those being overcome in the coming decades?

Industrial technologies require longer investment horizons and larger amounts of capital. Neither of those are insurmountable challenges although they do require investors to have greater imagination as regards what is possible and achievable. Right now, there are too few investors with that kind of mind-set.

From a global point of view, what impact (if any) do you think political change is having on the energy, environment and efficiency sectors? How do you think this will change?

Although politics makes headlines, it is the underlying progression within the private sector that is most important in the long run. Politicians can, and should, lead on the big issues around climate change (although they don’t always do so) but business is increasingly taking the initiative in making change occur on the ground.

 

Career

Describe your career journey in less than 100 words

I went into investment banking straight from university and spent the best part of 11 years working on the financing of large scale energy and natural resources projects in Europe, South America and the Middle East. After that I lived in Saudi Arabia for a couple of years, working as an adviser to a privately-owned petrochemicals group. I joined Turquoise in 2004 and have been here ever since.

What are the key ingredients to delivering innovation?

There are many types of innovation, ranging from incremental to transformative, and all can be valuable. There is no secret formula that I am aware of but having vision and perseverance and avoiding group-think will help.

What’s been your biggest business challenge?

Competing for capital in a world where most investors like everything digital and don’t understand hardware is sometimes hard going.

What is your proudest business moment?

At Turquoise, we have helped a large number of entrepreneurs and innovators to raise capital and/or have invested ourselves. Not all have been successful but I believe that all of them deserved being given a chance to succeed.

Who would you like to have dinner with – and why?

Napoleon. As a former history student, I am sceptical of the idea that the past is mostly the result of the actions of ‘great’ individuals but, if there are exceptions, he is one of them.

Ian Thomas

Managing Director

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