Career Path Founded on Strong Electrical and Management Training
Rarely do you find a bright, energetic, motivated, millennial passionate about achieving difficult organizational goals and inspiring work teams while staying focused on the big picture of national development and economic growth. These are the qualities that define 30-year-old new Head of Losses, Projects and Analytics at JPS, Rasheed Anderson. With a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and a Master of Science in Engineering Management, Anderson is well qualified and experienced to tackle the mammoth portfolio of pulling the plug on electricity theft.
“The Bachelor’s Degree gave me the toolbox to understand the electrical industry,” he noted, explaining that he found it easy to grasp the issues and converse with those critical to implementing the necessary measures. Additionally, his Master of Science Degree in Engineering Management, has given him the management skill set, to deal with the non-technical aspects of the business. “I have also benefitted from a number of leadership training opportunities at JPS – our ‘ILead’ programme, done in collaboration with the Mona School of Business, as well as our Power Up Series, run by the Human Resource Department, have provided ongoing education, which is critical to remaining sharp and growing as a professional.”
Anderson who assumed the role last month, of curtailing electricity theft, admitted that it “is a monumental task.” Theft in fact costs the energy solutions provider $60 million per year. Anderson is therefore tasked with the challenge of spearheading and executing various anti-theft solutions which involves technical as well as social intervention initiatives in various communities across the country. However, the ambitious electrical engineer is undaunted by the challenge, since JPS has enabled him to build a track record that has positioned him well for his current responsibilities.
“I started out as a project manager in the same department, implementing some of these technological projects. Having the engineering background and through both building relationships and learning a lot of the business which interfaces with Billing, IT, Standards and so on, I was all-rounded very quickly which led to me being promoted to Parish Manager for St. James and Hanover,” Anderson explained. In that capacity the young leader was in charge of managing the technical and commercial needs of some 70,000 customers.
Today the experienced engineer now has an islandwide ambit focused on loss reduction for the energy Company. “Losses is the difference between what the JPS generates and what we collect. A lot of what we do not collect is due to electricity theft, so a large part of losses is dealing with persons who steal electricity and that is the major focus,” Anderson explained. He added, “you also have other aspects which are more on the technical side which deals with running the power equipment more efficiently in order to reduce technical losses, but most of it is electricity theft.” In fact, some 27% of the total energy generated by the JPS is lost largely through electricity theft. However, rather than being daunted, Anderson is excited about the challenge. “It is exciting and my enthusiasm has attracted persons to the department over the past several weeks. Persons are getting involved, a lot of persons are saying Rasheed how can I join the team, how can I be of greater service? That kind of energy is really encouraging for me as I take on this mammoth of a task,” he confessed.
Success for Anderson however seems to start in the mind. The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine alumni maintains that your level of thinking will determine how well you can cope with a particular challenge. “How you view a situation at hand depends on your level of thinking. Getting over fear, is not ignoring it; if there is a problem, there is a problem. But if you can also think that there is a solution, then you will start to unlock ways in which you can get over that problem. If on the other hand, you have a problem and you think this is going to be the death of me, best believe that you will have no success in dealing with that problem. So your level of thinking helps to match the situation that you are in,” Anderson stressed.
The ambitious and driven Jamaica College old-boy is also clear that building and leveraging relationships is critical to achieving results. “Even if you are using the best project management principles you could find, you still need people from various departments to execute so some of these persons executing the project, don’t report directly to me. They have different targets and different goals and I am ‘borrowing’ them to do my project. So it is more about building relationships and how do I get them to feel the need to do something that is more beneficial to me than it is to them. So I had to either find a common ground or try to build a relationship, and that has worked well for me – to recognize that the people aspect of it is very important to get what you need done.” The Head of Department currently manages 5 team members directly and provides oversight for JPS regional teams island wide.
“I am humbled to be given the opportunity, because it speaks to the confidence that the persons across the Company and at the senior level have in me,” Anderson stated, noting that the mandate to reduce electricity losses that he and his team has been given, has wide-ranging national implications. “It is something that is bigger than me. If you can spread the responsibility to pay your JPS bill among more customers, people will eventually be paying lower bills, people can therefore spend more on groceries and other things; it is far reaching in terms of what it can achieve and when you think that broadly about what this thing that you are doing can really unlock for Jamaica; moving us to the next level in terms of economic growth it is really phenomenal,” he beamed.
With a vision to “build a platform for sustainable loss reduction,” Anderson is a man on a mission, focused on making a significant impact. No doubt, his dedication to working closely with stakeholders and employing the most innovative technological tactics, represents the core of the power Company’s renewed focus to Reimagine Energy.