Energetic Millennial Tackles Electricity Theft
This bright, energetic, motivated millennial is passionate about achieving difficult organisational 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 Jamaica Public Service (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.
Anderson, who is a University of the West Indies, St Augustine alumni, maintains that one's level of thinking will determine how well one 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," he said.
This 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 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 common ground or try to build a relationship, and that has worked well for me to recognise that the people aspect of it is very important to get what you need done."
Electrical theft is a major issue, accounting for the lion share of the company's losses and Anderson admits that curtailing electricity theft "is a monumental task." Theft, in fact, costs the energy-solutions provider $60 million per year.
Anderson is 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, this electrical engineer is undaunted by the challenge, since the 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 said. In that capacity, the young leader was in charge of managing the technical and commercial needs of about 70,000 customers.
Today, the engineer now has an islandwide ambit focused on loss reduction for the energy company. "Losses are 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, that deal with running the power equipment more efficiently in order to reduce technical losses, but most of it is electricity theft."
In fact, some 27 per cent 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 task," he said.
"I am humbled to be given the opportunity because it speaks to the confidence that 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 bill among more customers, people will eventually be paying lower bills. It is far-reaching in terms of what it can achieve, and when you think 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 said.