Hailed as a ‘leading green entrepreneur’ by the Financial Times, David Hunt has been a prominent figure in environmental change for the best part of two decades.
Specialising in the clean energy, eMobility, and smart cities sectors, David’s drive to accelerate these growing markets led him to set up Hyperion Executive Search Ltd in 2014, sourcing talent at leadership level in the cleantech sector. Since then, Hyperion has been helping some of the world’s most innovative businesses grow and succeed, including those backed by Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy organisation.
David is a well-known speaker at industry events and seminars such as EcoSummit, Energy Storage Europe and Fully Charged Live. He also hosts the ‘Leaders in Cleantech’ Podcast, a platform where he invites expert guests from his network to share their journeys and insights.
Tell us about Hyperion – how did it start?
Before I launched Hyperion, I oversaw a renewable energy installation business, but my background prior to that was also in recruitment. I spent over 15 years building teams, soaking up everything I could about people, what motivates them to move company, how to manage them, and the enigma of communicating with different personality types.
Combining this experience with the knowledge gained from working in renewable energy, I felt confident enough to start my own executive search business. It had to be niche, because recruitment is very crowded. But if you have the skills and genuine interest in a certain field, one that is a good market fit, the barriers to entry are low.
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What challenges have you faced?
As long as there are people inhabiting the planet, they will need jobs, so opportunities will always abound in the recruitment sector. The market is therefore saturated and you need a USP to stand out. Time is also of the essence at this critical early stage; hindsight is a wonderful thing but, with years of experience under my belt, I’d dare say I didn’t need to wait as long.
Your people will always be another major challenge, whether at start-up or scale-up stage. Hiring the right talent is only one vital ingredient of success. How you onboard them, how you manage and how you retain them are critical to your business. Putting your people first is the key to success.
What challenges does the cleantech sector face?
According to PwC, the cleantech sector has grown by 3,750 per cent over the last decade. Our advancements in the space are positive for the environment but the result is that we face a labour shortage, with estimates that employment in the sector will need to increase to 100 million by 2050.
A lack of skilled staff is the barrier to investment and innovation. There is, therefore, an enormous reskilling and upskilling project ahead of us, bringing blue-collar workers – those producing and installing solar panels and windfarms, installing EV infrastructure and large-scale batteries, etc – and white-collar workers – such as project managers, operations, logistics, and administrators – into the sector.
How can we avert a crisis in terms of shortage of talent?
The solution lies in the two sides of the equation doing their part to adapt – the workforce and human resources. Firstly, human capital is needed. The workforce must keep learning as fast as the world is changing. As we stumble into new territory, we must keep analysing and solving problems we haven’t encountered before. Secondly, HR must understand the scope of leveraging today’s tech innovation to unleash human potential.
At Hyperion Executive Search we have long seen a shift in the workforce as talent from the traditional oil and gas, automotive industries and from many other sectors moves to clean energy, mobility and technology, both for job security and to contribute to making a positive impact on the world. Importantly, you don’t need to have a renewable energy or cleantech background to join the sector. Transferable skills such as inquisitiveness, creativity and collaboration mustn’t be underestimated.
What can we hope to see from Hyperion in the future?
Hyperion has been helping some of the world’s most innovative cleantech businesses grow, including several companies backed by Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures, and we will continue building on these successes.
With offices in Liverpool, London, Munich and the US, the team now operates across EMEA and North America and is rising to the challenges I’ve outlined. We’ve added Fully Charged Recruitment to our stable, which finds mid to senior level talent, alongside Hyperion Executive Search, so we can support a greater number of clients and candidates, speed up the transition and make transferable skills count. But there is still work to be done.