Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Empowering Innovation: Adeel Irshad’s Leadership in SIIG’s Sustainable Mobility Transformation

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Empowering Innovation: Adeel Irshad’s Leadership in SIIG’s Sustainable Mobility Transformation

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Adeel Irshad
Chief Operating Officer EV Technology

As the Chief Operating Officer at EV Technology in Muscat, Oman, I lead the strategic expansion and operational excellence of our EV and charging infrastructure projects throughout the GCC/MENA region. My role involves visionary leadership of cross-functional teams, formulating pioneering market strategies, and establishing pivotal partnerships with international EV and EVSE brands.
Under my guidance, EV Technology-SIIG has transitioned from an oil and gas business to a leader in sustainable mobility. My commitment to innovation and focus on new energy brands has set us apart, enabling us to onboard reputable and affordable EV and EVSE OEMs. This achievement required comprehensive oversight, from diligent research and strategic negotiations to successful market execution.
I provide expert insights and strategic consultation to diverse EV ecosystem projects across the GCC/MENA region and for global brands. My career is driven by a dedication to innovation, sustainability, and shaping a cleaner future.

What inspired you to transition from a traditional oil and gas business focus to a sustainable electric vehicle model within SIIG?

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Adeel Irshad: Life is like a rollercoaster, full of ups and downs, with the thrill of achieving success at the end of the ride. In late 2015, under the visionary leadership of our chairman, Mr. Hilal Al Sinani, I took on the challenge of transitioning our oil and gas business to renewable ventures. With a steadfast commitment to environmental sustainability and climate advocacy, I embraced the responsibility to drive positive transformations within SIIG and contribute to a more sustainable global landscape.

This journey was inspired by initiatives like The Paris Agreement, which aims to limit global warming to 1.5°C by 2030 through a 45% reduction in emissions, and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. With the transportation sector contributing 14% of global emissions, the urgent need for this transition became clear. It became evident that shifting the mobility sector to electric and renewable energy-based solutions is crucial to drastically reduce emissions and meet our net-zero goals.

Recognizing this promising business opportunity, I became a pioneer in the local EV industry. This was especially significant given the strong preference of the local and regional society for their love of cars.

The 2019 pandemic further propelled global innovation and research, as remote work and online stores became the norm worldwide. This shift allowed me to strengthen global connections, innovate, and engage in extensive research with remote collaborators around the world. As a result, we developed EV and EVSE solutions recognized for their potential in sustainable business practices, aligning with regional and global emissions reduction goals toward carbon neutrality 2050. While many of my peers complained during the pandemic, I often joke that I remained focused on driving innovation and progress.With the endorsement of our leadership, this initiative led us to establish an EV ecosystem business model. Today, we proudly represent globally renowned EV and EVSE brands in local and regional markets, making significant strides towards OmanVision 2040 and achieving carbon neutrality 2050.

Can you share some key milestones or achievements in your role as COO that have significantly contributed to the growth and success of EV Technology-SIIG?

Adeel Irshad: Serving as COO has been a deeply enriching journey, filled with invaluable lessons. One crucial insight I’ve gained is the pivotal importance of impactful leadership in a startup environment. It goes beyond just decision-making to encompass strategic planning that aligns with the overarching vision and objectives. Many of the global EV OEMs, including our partners, are startups, resulting in shared goals and challenges.

Balancing priorities, fostering strategic growth, multitasking as a one-person team at times, and mastering time management are skills I’ve refined. Continuous improvement isn’t just a buzzword; it’s a mindset ingrained in me. Flexibility, transformation, and adaptability are crucial due to ongoing technological advancements, market shifts, interconnected supply chain details, and regulatory adherence within the dynamic and evolving EV industry.

My key achievements included forging strategic partnerships with global EV and EVSE OEMs, expanding our market reach across the MENA/GCC region, developing a robust EV charging infrastructure, educating my team and stakeholders about EV business and benefits, driving technological innovation, advocating for supportive regulatory policies, and implementing sustainability initiatives within our operations. 

These efforts have solidified our position as a leading player in the EV market on a regional scale, driving growth, fostering sustainability, and shaping the future of mobility in the region.

How do you navigate the dynamic and rapidly evolving landscape of the electric vehicle industry, especially in the MENA/GCC region, where the market might have unique challenges compared to other regions?

Adeel Irshad: The global electric vehicle (EV) industry faces continuous challenges, requiring constant innovation and daily evolution. 

Addressing these challenges regionally demands a strategic approach tailored to unique circumstances, keeping pace with market trends, regulatory changes, and technological advancements specific to the area. Building strong partnerships with local stakeholders and government entities is essential for addressing infrastructure gaps and advocating for supportive policies. Customizing EV solutions to suit regional climate conditions, consumer preferences, and infrastructure limitations is crucial. 

Educating consumers about the benefits of EVs and dispelling myths, while promoting the development of charging infrastructure in urban areas, highways, and commercial hubs, are key strategies. Transitioning commercial vehicles to electric can lead to smoother traffic flow and safer roads.

Moreover, selecting the right OEMs for local and regional markets is a crucial undertaking. Ensuring mutually beneficial outcomes for consumers, OEMs, and our business adds another layer of complexity to my operational challenges. This is compounded by the ever-changing landscape of technological advancements, regulatory shifts, and compliance considerations, as well as the inherent complexities of managing the supply chain.

Therefore, it’s essential to embrace technological innovations and remain adaptable to market dynamics and transformations. This approach greatly contributes to effectively navigating the complexities of the MENA/GCC EV market.

Collaboration and partnerships seem crucial in advancing sustainable initiatives. Could you elaborate on some of the key partnerships EV Technology has forged to further its mission?

    Adeel Irshad: We’ve established a robust partnership with Starcharge, recently acclaimed as the leading charging solution OEM globally. Collaborating closely, we’ve initiated a fast-charging network in cooperation with fuel companies in Oman and the UAE. We’re actively engaged in further expanding and enhancing this network both locally and regionally.

    EV Technology strategically aligns with partners across sectors to advance our mission of promoting sustainable mobility solutions in the MENA/GCC region. Our collaboration with global EV OEMs ensures access to cutting-edge electric vehicle models and technologies tailored to local and regional requirements. Additionally, partnerships with charging infrastructure providers enable the development of a robust EV charging network.

    Likewise, our collaboration with government agencies and regulatory bodies enables us to advocate for supportive policies and incentives to encourage EV adoption and develop charging infrastructure. Additionally, partnerships with utility providers and energy companies facilitate the integration of renewable energy sources into EV charging infrastructure, effectively reducing carbon emissions. Academic partnerships drive innovation and talent development, further contributing to industry advancements.

    These diverse collaborations empower EV Technology to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles, promote sustainable practices, and create a positive environmental impact in the region.

    As someone deeply involved in sustainability and ESG efforts, what strategies do you employ to ensure that EV Technology’s operations align with global and national sustainability goals?

    Adeel Irshad: As a proud Omani organization, we are committed to aligning with the goals of OmanVision 2040, which prioritizes economic diversification, fiscal sustainability, and the development of sustainable cities while safeguarding the environment and natural resources. Additionally, on the global stage, we shine with our sustainable business lineup that aligns with the NetZero future by 2050.

    Furthermore, we have established a comprehensive sustainability framework that integrates Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) principles into all aspects of our operations. From product development to collaboration with pure EV and EVSE OEMs, we ensure adherence to sustainable and ethical practices. Our close collaboration with suppliers fosters a sustainable supply chain ecosystem.

    As part of our standard practice, we prioritize reducing our carbon footprint through various initiatives. This includes implementing digital solutions, adopting energy-efficient technologies and appliances, and transitioning to renewable energy sources like solar power at our warehouse. We also implement waste reduction strategies such as recycling programs and minimizing single-use plastics. Optimizing transportation logistics and promoting alternative transportation options are also key aspects of our efforts.

    Engaging with stakeholders is essential for raising awareness and gathering feedback, which helps foster a culture of sustainability within our organization. We believe in transparent reporting and actively participate in industry standards to showcase our commitment and progress towards sustainability. Additionally, we leverage innovation to develop eco-friendly products and advocate for supportive policies that promote sustainable transportation and environmental conservation.

    These strategies collectively drive EV Technology towards alignment with global and national sustainability goals, contributing positively to environmental protection and social responsibility.

    In promoting education and talent development within the EV industry, what initiatives or programs have you spearheaded to nurture the next generation of leaders and innovators?

    Adeel Irshad: I see myself on a mission for a sustainable future, advocating for awareness, education, and talent development within the EV industry. As a prominent figure in automotive design and engineering, I spearhead various initiatives aimed at education, awareness, empowering youth, nurturing the next generation of leaders and innovators. These efforts include public speaking engagements at conferences and events, building strong relationships with academic institutions, and mentoring tech graduates to develop specialized EV training programs. These programs offer hands-on learning experiences, technical workshops, and industry internships.

    Additionally, within our organization, we have implemented programs to guide and support aspiring talents, facilitating knowledge transfer and professional growth.

    Moreover, I provide expert insights, strategic consultations, and advisory services to renowned international brands seeking expansion in the region. I actively contribute to articles, training manuals, and courses, showcasing my commitment to advancing professional development globally. My reputation is built on delivering unparalleled expertise and upholding the highest standards within the EV ecosystem as a whole, rather than focusing solely on specific aspects.

    Given your experience and expertise, what do you see as the biggest obstacles or challenges facing the widespread adoption of electric vehicles in the MENA region, and how is EV Technology addressing them?

    Adeel Irshad: In my view, regional electrification targets and initiatives define the vision towards EV adoption. For instance, Saudi Arabia aims for 30% electrification by 2030 and 100% by 2060, while the UAE targets 2050 for full electrification. Bahrain, Qatar, and Kuwait are striving for carbon neutrality by 2050.

    Oman stands out with the most favorable regulations in the region, offering zero VAT on EVs and spare parts, waiving customs fees, providing free car registration, and collaborating with commercial agencies for exclusive EV deals. Additionally, mandating fuel stations to install EV charging stations. With visionary goals to reduce carbon emissions by 3% in 2030, 34% in 2040, and 100% by 2050, Oman aims to introduce a minimum of 22,000 EVs by 2040.

    Furthermore, locally manufactured electric vehicles from Oman, UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar serve as genuine examples of their contribution to encouraging adoption and overcoming obstacles.

    Success in the domain of electric vehicle (EV) adoption doesn’t happen overnight or through hasty decisions. Significant global challenges persist, making regional electrification a journey of its own that requires time and effort. These challenges include limited charging infrastructure, concerns about range anxiety, high upfront costs of EVs and limited model varieties, sometimes lacking supportive policies and incentives, consumer awareness, myths, battery fire safety measures, and consumer acceptance issues. 

    EV Technology tackles these challenges through strategic initiatives such as expanding the EV charging network, deploying fast-charging stations, collaborating with government agencies to advocate for supportive policies and incentives, promoting consumer education and awareness campaigns, and offering innovative green financing options to make EVs more accessible and affordable.

    Currently, I am continuously working to innovate our product offerings, collaborate with industry stakeholders and fuel station operators, and engage in research and development to overcome regional barriers and drive the widespread adoption of EVs and charging infrastructure in Oman and the MENA region. I also look forward to further collaboration with fuel operators to ensure widespread access to charging infrastructure for the masses.

    Looking ahead, what are your aspirations and goals for EV Technology in the coming years, particularly in the context of advancing towards a greener and more sustainable future?

    Adeel Irshad: Firstly, I believe that sustainability begins at home, and as a society, we must demonstrate responsible behavior before expecting anything from our governments.

    My strategy revolves around three key pillars: thorough analysis, a commitment to eco-friendly practices condensed in “Thinking Green,” and the innovative integration of these elements. This approach has allowed me to turn my passion into a rewarding career focused on shaping the present and future of the sustainable technology industry.

    I am deeply passionate about ongoing education, learning, and raising awareness about sustainable societal norms. I firmly believe that together, we have the power to initiate transformative change in response to climate challenges. My dedicated focus is on engaging with innovative projects, modernizing them to align with sustainable supply chains, and evolving to meet the demands and needs of EV users. This involves integrating advancements in EVs, EV battery manufacturing and development, commercial EVs, AI, IoT, and AVs.

    Our strategy involves expanding our presence in the EV market across the MENA region by introducing innovative EV models, enhancing our charging infrastructure network, and promoting EV adoption through awareness campaigns and incentives.

    Additionally, I aim to reinforce partnerships with industry stakeholders, government agencies, and academic institutions to drive technological innovation, research, and talent development in the EV sector. Ultimately, I envision EV Technology becoming a leader in sustainable mobility solutions, making significant contributions to environmental conservation, reducing carbon emissions, and shaping a cleaner and healthier future in alignment with Oman Vision 2040 and carbon neutrality 2050.

    Balancing your professional responsibilities with your commitment to education and talent development within the EV industry must require significant time and effort. How do you manage this balance, and what motivates you to continue investing in the growth and development of others in your field?

    Adeel Irshad: As previously mentioned, my deep passion for sustainable development, particularly in e-mobility, is a driving force in my life. When your work aligns with your passion, it seamlessly integrates into your daily life, becoming more than just a job. 

    Moreover, the unwavering support from my family and the guidance of our chairman, Mr. Hilal Al Sinani, further fortifies my dedication to this cause. Achieving success in this field demands strategic prioritization, efficient time management, delegation, continuous learning, collaboration, and personal growth. By prioritizing tasks, managing time effectively, delegating responsibilities when necessary, staying abreast of industry trends, collaborating with experts, and investing in personal development, I am able to maintain this delicate balance.

    What motivates me to continue investing in the growth and development of others in the EV field is the belief that nurturing talent and fostering a culture of learning and innovation are essential for long-term success and sustainability. By empowering individuals with knowledge, skills, and opportunities, we not only benefit them but also drive shared positive change, accelerate innovation, and create a sustainable future. Together, we grow as one green society.

    My message to society centers on transformation and sustainability. I envision a future where clean and efficient mobility isn’t merely an option, but a collective commitment. This future embraces innovation and electric vehicles as pivotal steps towards a greener, more sustainable world, aligned with our goal of achieving a net-zero future. Let’s redefine mobility as more than just transportation; it should be a deliberate choice to reduce our environmental impact.

    Together, we can catalyze positive change, paving the way for cleaner, healthier roads and a planet we cherish. After all, there’s no Planet B. Let’s unite in this journey towards a sustainable future, ensuring a legacy of environmental stewardship for generations to come.

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