Emmanuel Caprais is senior vice president and chief financial officer of ITT Inc. He previously served as vice president of Finance and group chief financial officer, in charge of business unit finance teams, Financial Planning & Analysis and Investor Relations for the company.
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John: Welcome to another edition of the Impact Podcast. I’m John Shegerian. I’m so excited to have with us today, Emmanuel Caprais. He’s the senior vice president and chief financial officer of ITT. Welcome, Emmanuel, to the Impact Podcast.
Emmanuel Caprais: Thank you, John. I’m really happy to be with you today.
John: Well, we’re happy to have you here. And before we get talking about all the important work you and your colleagues are doing at ITT, can you share a little bit about your own personal journey and background, Emmanuel? Where’d you grow up? And how did you get on this wonderful journey that you’re on at ITT?
Emmanuel: Sure. So, thank you for the opportunity. Originally, I’m from France. When you think about France, people know France, but it’s a relatively small country and there are not that many places where French is spoken. French is spoken in Europe, a little bit in Africa, and also in Quebec, but that’s pretty much it. And so, growing in an international environment, for me, it was important to learn other languages. That’s why I decided to learn English. I was kind of forced, at school, to learn English, but I liked it. I learned Spanish.
Then later in life, as I was about to go live in Italy, I decided, like around 30 years old, to learn also Italian, which was really similar to French and Spanish, not as difficult. So, really, I would say evolving in an international setting is one thing that is really key to who I am today. I started my professional career in Mexico. When I was in Mexico, I worked for a French company in Mexico. And at the time, I had the choice of either doing my military service, or work abroad for a French company, and I decided that it was a better use of my time to learn professionally.
And so, I worked in Mexico for a couple of years. And because that mission was successful, the company offered me a role in the US. So, I went and lived seven years in Cincinnati, Ohio, in the Midwest, which was one of my first experiences in the US. I really got on the corporate ladder in that job during the seven years. I started as a business analyst, and then became the controller for a multibillion-dollar division. After seven years, where I really learned how to manage growth. It was a high-growth environment, and unfortunately, the company, when I started, didn’t make a lot of money, so we had to turn that around.
After those seven years, I thought it was time for me to see something different. And so, the company offered me an opportunity to go to Italy. While in the US, I was managing growth, in Italy, I was managing decline. It was a company where a lot of the product lines were obsolete. The company was losing money, a lot of unproductive relationship with Unions, and I learned how to manage all this and helped and contributed to the turnaround of the company. So, after that mission, that company wanted to send me back to France, and I don’t think I was ready to go back to France. After having tasted the international settings, going back to your own country is, it wasn’t appealing to me. I decided to move on, and I switched to a different company, stayed in Italy, and then moved on to Germany for a while, up until 2012 when I joined ITT.
I joined ITT as responsible for the financials of one of their businesses. That’s where I was really able to put into practice all the things that I learned in those experiences. There was a lot of really interesting project work there. We had a very profitable business. And so, when I arrived, I thought there’s not much that I’m going to be able to do as a finance person if that business is already very profitable. But nevertheless, I was able to find many, many opportunities and was able to really expand the margin with the help of the team. Which led me to get another opportunity to come and join the company here at the headquarters in the US, where I was really tasked to implement the focus I had on performance drivers at the division level for the whole work or for the all wide company. And so, that’s what I did. As we were able to really drive the performance of all those different divisions within the company, I was able to gain more responsibilities and become CFO of ITT in 2020. And so, that has been a long ride, but very, very interesting.
John: So, for our listeners and viewers who aren’t familiar with ITT, Emmanuel, let’s talk about that first, and then we’re going to get into more specific projects. First of all, to find you and your colleagues at ITT, our listeners can go to www.itt.com. www.itt.com. So, how big is ITT in terms of employees, geographic coverage? And what exactly is the core mission of the business?
Emmanuel: ITT is a, I would say, medium-sized company. We’re a little bit above $3 billion in terms of revenue, and we have a little bit more than 10,000 employees, and those 10,000 employees are located over 35 different countries. Actually, 60% of our revenue is coming outside of the US or the Americas, and so we’re very, very international. We have three main businesses; one that makes industrial pumps and industrial valves. Those pumps are used into the manufacture of chemical products. They’re used also in the manufacture of Nutella, for instance.
So, nutrition pumps, the chocolate spread. So, very, very diverse. Some of our valves are also used for the manufacturing of medication. So, we’re not a very well-known brand, but we work behind the scenes to really help people in general. Our second business is a motion technologies business, and we make components for cars, namely brake pads, so what allows you to break and to stop the vehicle, as well as component for rail. We make shock absorbers, we make buffers, everything that is needed in the rail business. And so, the particularity of that business is that while it is a transportation business, and usually transportation business have a lower profitability profile, lower margin profile, our transportation business is very, very profitable, much more than anybody in the competition, in a competitive space. And the reason for this is because I think we have, down to a science, everything that makes this business successful.
And every day, all our people are working on strengthening those attributes, those competitive advantages to make the business even more successful in the future. Then finally, our third business is called connect and control technologies, and here, we make connectors. We make connectors for the aerospace industry. We make connectors for the medical industry, or some of them for the oil and gas industry as well. And then we make components, and we make components for aerospace, as well as for industrial environments. So, some of those anti-seismic devices that go into the large building and skyscrapers, that’s us making them.
John: So, you, growing up in Paris or in France, like you say, and then eventually, moving to Italy and then in the United States and then Germany, you’ve become a global citizen in your lifetime and in your career. Is that a positive force and has helped you become a better leader, since you’re now a top leader at an international global company like ITT?
Emmanuel: I think that international experience was incredible for my own personal growth and as well for my effectiveness as a manager and a leader in private companies. At a pretty young age, I mean, when I started working in Mexico, I was around 20 years old. It allowed me to see a completely different culture, allow me to talk to completely different people, to see completely different settings. And that develops curiosity, that develops empathy also, which are qualities that are really important for business leaders in general. It forced me to really perfect my Spanish. So, speaking of language, it’s not only communicating, but it’s also learning a culture. It’s also connecting with people. And so, that has been really valuable for me to become a better person.
John: It’s so interesting, the communication skills and the ability to culturally assimilate, and that flexibility and that resilience, it really makes for great leaders. Do you agree?
Emmanuel: No, I completely agree. And I think the adventure also, when you go internationally. I mean, I have so many stories. My first week, when I arrived in Mexico, I was kidnapped. And so, the resilience that you were talking about, came really into play. The fact that stuff that is unplanned can happen at any point in time. Your life can completely flip at any point in time, so you need to be ready. You need to be ready to seize the opportunities.
John: Now, I definitely want to talk about it. But wait a second, we have to stop a little bit to discuss this kidnapping. Who kidnapped you, if you’re allowed to talk about it? And how did you eventually get out safely?
Emmanuel: Yes. So, picture, I just arrived from France. Next, I just arrived in Mexico, I meet some friends that I knew from France, and they say, “Let’s go out.” And when you’re 20-year-old, that sounds very appealing in a completely different country. It sounds very appealing. So, we go out, we have fun. And then at the end of the night, it’s probably 2-3 a.m., all being French, we think, “Let’s go home. Let’s take a cab, and let’s go home.” That sounds pretty normal. The problem in Mexico at that time, and probably now also, is that you can’t really hail a cab and get in.
It doesn’t work like this. You got to call a cab. Because the likelihood of if you hail a cab, of this cab to be not a real cab, but actually a way for them to extract money from you is pretty high. And so, I got held hostage in a cab probably three or four hours at gunpoint. I tried to keep my cool. And then finally, after those three or four hours, I was released, and I was able to go home and go back with my friends, who have been home for a really long time. So, yeah, it’s definitely a very interesting experience that really helped me develop resilience as one of the core values that I have.
John: Were you able to communicate and build a bridge and a bond with the folks who had kidnapped you for those three or four hours, and that helped lead to your safe release?
Emmanuel: Absolutely not. I wish I could say the contrary, but absolutely not. The only reason I was released is because I had nothing else to give.
John: Okay. I love your honesty, Emmanuel. I love it. It’s great. But it’s just wonderful understanding the importance and the perspective that you got, besides all the other skills of cultural assimilation, flexibility, resilience, communication, from becoming a global citizen from a very young age. I think that’s a great lesson for our listeners and our viewers around the world to take away, that want to build a successful career.
Travel means a lot and experiencing different cultures and different geographies and people and their food and their lifestyle, I think it’s an invaluable lesson that they can’t get on a tablet, or on a Zoom call, or on a phone call, or any of the modern forms of communication, technology forms of communication.
Emmanuel: Yeah, absolutely. And develop a certain level of being comfortable with the unknown is something that is clearly important for you in the future because it talks about your ability to be resourceful in difficult situations. [crosstalk] And so, confronting your fears, being adventurous is really something that helps you down the line.
John: Great point. Not only confronting your fears, but as you did, you’ve done successfully, over and over again, overcome them, overcoming fears of the newness, of different, and the lack of sameness that we’re all comfortable with and used to, from whatever points of origin that we all come from. Let’s get into ITT. Talk a little bit about sustainability, impact, and some of your green energy opportunities and other impactful projects that you’ve been working on in your 11 and a half or so years at ITT with your colleagues.
Emmanuel: I would say for us, sustainability has been really a reality for the past five years. In the past, individually, I think, we were sensitive to sustainability, to protecting the environment. But as a company, I would say our record was mixed. And so, as we turned over the management team, we felt that this was an opportunity for ITT to improve our track record and to really contribute positively, as a company, to the broader economy, and to the broader world. And so, what we’ve decided to do, we decided to take very practical steps. First, we said, “Okay, we started small, and we try to look at where were the opportunities.” One of my key role has been to really try to build coalitions within the company, in order to bring up the level of interest and the desire from everybody in the company, the leadership, but also all the different employees, to contribute positively to the environment.
So, we started small. We first started by saying, “Okay, what are the things that we do that are not optimized? Do we have waste?” And we focused on eliminating that waste? One of the example, for instance, is everything that goes to the landfill. We started saying, “Okay, what can we recycle? Is there stuff that we can recycle? How can we increase our recycling?” We also looked at water consumption. And we said, “Okay, is there a way where we don’t have to use as much water, and we can have actually loops in our manufacturing plants.” We have a lot of manufacturing plants, we have 35 different locations. And so, they use a lot of resources, whether it’s electricity or water. Then, we started saying, “Okay, we have operations where we have to clean our products.
Is it possible to have a closed loop, for instance? And is it possible to be able to clean and reuse the water constantly, so that we don’t have to always get water from outside?” Then after that, we moved into energy efficiency. Before making a really large investment, we said, “Okay, where are we wasting energy?” And so, we realized that, for instance, insulation at our factories wasn’t great, and we were losing a lot of heat. We also realized that, for instance, lighting, wasn’t optimized, and so we started implementing LED lighting everywhere in our plants. Starting small but having progressively an impact that grows and grows and grows. To the point where we said — there was really a strong push in 2021, where we said to ourselves, “We are in a situation where energy is scarce, where prices are very volatile, and this is making our business very complicated. And so, as a result, we need to do something.” Case in point here, we had a fantastic opportunity to address energy scarcity, to get a better control on our energy cost, and at the same time, doing something good for the environment.
And so, when I was talking about building coalition, that’s the way we presented it internally. Because I think that in terms of those investments, and we’re talking about rooftop solar panels, and we announced back in April, a 25-million investment, and we’re going to put solar panels in the majority of our facilities. The key here is that it’s not because you’re doing something good for the environment, that you’re going to convince people, there’s varying degrees of interest about the Green Movement, and some people are completely opposed. I think that for us, what was key is to lead with something that makes sense from a business standpoint. And from a business standpoint, nobody can argue with the fact that energy is scarce, and energy scarcity is going to become more and more of a challenge. Nobody can argue with the fact that the cost of energy are volatile and are also increasing.
And so, if those two basic assessments or those basics truth are agreed upon everyone, then it becomes so much easier to select the way to fix it. And then green energy becomes not really a side benefit, but becomes not the main benefit for some people that are harder to believe just on the goodness of a project like this. And so, building those coalitions were really important. When people were worried in all our manufacturing plants about the fact that they were not going to have enough energy to produce and to be able to deliver to their customers, when they saw their profitability level going down significantly because the price of gas, the price of electricity went up like crazy, then it became only natural, and people were calling us to say, “Can I install solar panels on my roofs?” So, that has been the strategy at ITT, has been to say, “How can we approach this problematic from a business standpoint, and then making sure that we have benefit for the environment?”
John: I love it, because Emmanuel, over the years, most of the people that I get to interview are chief sustainability officers, or chief impact officers, are now chief ESG officers, and those kinds of people, either with the title or role of sustainability, or impact in their title. It’s great to be able to have a chance to spend time with you today because rarely do I get to interview a chief financial officer. So, I love what you’re saying, sustainability for sustainability’s sake is wonderful on its own, but as you say, can be very polarizing subject, not only politically speaking, but from a corporate level.
You’re coming to impact and sustainability from a business perspective. You’re saying this makes financial and business sense for us, and therefore, you’re building coalitions within your company to get behind the business argument, the compelling business reasons to do it. And therefore, people get on board, everybody gets excited, and wonderful side benefits have tremendous impact to making the world a better place, making the company a better company, but also the environment wins. And ultimately, we all win in the process.
Emmanuel: That’s why, John, and what’s important is to disassociate the way to get there and what you think. For instance, what I think is that we should be good towards the environment. That’s what I think. But that is not a winning proposition in a corporate environment, at least for everyone.
John: I agree.
Emmanuel: And so, I’m not forgetting what one of my purposes is, which is contributing positively to the environment, but I’m finding a way to convince other people that for whom just that reason is not sufficient enough.
John: I love it. I mean, just what you said, just from the perspective energy, energy, as you say, has become not only scarce, but as you said, inconsistent. You can’t have your factories one day turned on and one day turned off, if the energy good turns off. So, this creates continuous, consistent energy sources that happened to also be more sustainable and green in the process.
Emmanuel: Exactly. And one of the things that I wanted to add is the fact that once you’re able to convince people and build those coalitions, you got to run, because the key here is to demonstrate progress and demonstrate the benefits. As you were mentioning, this is such a polarizing subject, what can happen is that people change their mind. And so, what’s really important is when you make the decision globally and collectively, then you go really quickly, so that people don’t have a chance to rethink that. Then they can only witness the benefits that you’re giving them. And they like the fact that they don’t have to pay an electricity provider for the 20% of the energy that you need, that is generated by your rooftop.
They like the fact that they don’t have to worry about 20% of their energy and if the energy supply is going to be able to provide on time, because we’re producing it ourselves. So, they like those things. Then, after a while, when confronted with the facts, people cannot really deny forever. And so, that’s where you build this coalition, you convert people because it’s really converting people. Then it has all sorts of positive implications for the broad company also.
John: Well, it’s great what you just said it, if it was just your opinion, that it ITT should become more sustainable in its practices, that’s one thing. It’s easy to argue opinions, but it’s a lot more difficult to argue compelling facts and the economics that underlie those facts get to be very compelling and also very hard to dispute. [inaudible] those issues, as you say, but the issue of good business practices. From where you sit, it’s hard to argue with that.
Emmanuel: That’s right. And I think, also, there’s a broader benefit, where you kind of enter into a virtuous cycle, where you see the benefit, and then that triggers other ideas. So, linked with that, for instance, and around the same time, we decided also to hire people that were recently in prison. And we said, “Okay, we’re trying to contribute to society. We have here potential. It’s difficult to hire people, it’s difficult to find people, so why don’t we try to solve one of our problems, which is labor availability, by tapping into a resource that historically hasn’t been used.”
And so, not only we were doing something well or something good, to help some people that were formerly incarcerated reentering to society, but we were also solving one of our issues, which was labor availability. And so, we’ve done some of those things. I can’t say that this has a major impact, but we have few examples where we’ve been able to recruit people that were formerly incarcerated and give them a second chance at having a good life.
John: I’ve had experience with that myself at our company, as well, and other companies that I’m involved with. Then, like you said, the byproduct of that is you’re solving a societal problem. The recidivism rate in the United States is one of the highest recidivism rates around the world. And a lot of these people coming out of prison understand that this is their second or maybe even less chance, and they have a chip on their shoulder. And what got them into prison, many of them have transferable skills that can be applied to business, if given the right structure.
So, giving them the right structure at ITT gives them the chance to succeed. So, you’ve solved the labor problem at ITT, but you’ve also solved the societal problem that we have with the recidivism rate that’s ongoing all around us. I think that’s wonderful. And as you say, it’s a virtuous cycle that Jim Collins calls the Flywheel Effect in Good to Great, and that flywheel effect continues then to fuel future positive activity, at great companies like ITT
Emmanuel: Yeah, absolutely, John.
John: Talk a little bit about that, then. What happens then? So, you have then, for lack of better terms, a coalition of people that now truly believe in your methodology of using business as the key driving force behind sustainable and impactful projects at ITT. Do you then create a sustainability department or an impact department? Or do you create loose coalitions of ambassadors and advocates from your company around the world, who then gather together, formally or informally, to continue to come up with more ideas to take all of your already winning projects forward and farther?
Emmanuel: Yeah. The approach we’ve taken at ITT is the one of having coalitions. For us, it feels like having one person in charge of sustainability may not be the best use of our resources. Practically, what’s happening is that people are doing this in addition of their job, but what’s really interesting is that this addition is also a strong motivator for them to do their job. And so, the way we structure that at ITT is that, I am in charge of the environmental pillar, for instance, as the CFO.
And the reason for this is because, as I mentioned, I have a specific interest in that, but also, because as the CFO, I can clear the way for people, and that is really important. I can be an enabler. I can be the ambassador of this pillar. So, that’s really important. And when I talk about this pillar and when I say, “Environmental pillar, we’re not doing well, we need to do better,” people listen.
John: Oh, absolutely. How do you report on all these winds that you’ve gotten that are… On a standalone basis, each one of them are wonderful, important, and impactful, but how do you then wrap them up on an annual basis and share with them, not only with your employees but with your constituents, clients, analysts, and other people that are interested in your
progress and success?
Emmanuel: So, internally, every quarter, we meet to assess and to present a progress we’re making at all the different businesses. As I am the head, for instance, of the environmental pillar, we have also people in each of our three businesses that are also very much focused on the environment and that are my connections to the business. We report internally on that. We report with the leadership team, and then we talked about it during our monthly to quarterly Town Halls also with the broader population, and we showcase the projects.
For instance, at last Town Hall, we talked about the projects of installing solar panels at one of our facilities in the Netherlands, where now, we’re able to produce 50% of the energy that we use just with solar panels. We do a lot of internal communication, too, because people are interested and people care, and they want to know that ITT are also contributes. So, we found this as really a great opportunity, externally also.
So, that’s one thing. In order to manage really those projects, what we do is, on a monthly basis, we meet with all those people that are embedded in the business and that are driving sustainability on top of their jobs, to really understand how we’re tracking compared to the projects that we have planned and also to exchange best practice. Earlier this week, we had our meeting with our sustainability leaders into our businesses, and we had a great conversation where one person had at an issue they weren’t able to solve in terms of how to assess the energy efficiency of one of their plants. And another business came up with a solution and recommended some contractor to help them assess and to put meters in all the machines that consumes electricity.
So, we benefit also from this best practice sharing, that makes us really efficient when we deploy solutions. As I told you, we make very, very different products in very different factories across the world, but there are things that we can apply everywhere. For instance, most of our factories, they have compressed air, and the problem with compressed air is leakage. The leakage means that your compressor, that produce that air, needs to work overtime to be able to generate a portion of the compressed air that you’re using. And so, going after those leakages is allowing you to not have to work your compressor over time and to reduce your energy consumption. And that is true whether you make brake pads or you make valves for the aerospace industry, or you make pumps for the chemical industry.
It’s across the board, people could exchange best practices, implementing LED lighting also. LED lighting is so easy to implement now, but also the key, the devil is in the details, because we had a plant who just substituted the lamps, the bulbs. We realized that to have the maximum impact of LED lighting is not about just substituting the bulbs; it’s about substituting the entire system because otherwise, you just get a portion of the benefit. So, one of our plants learned that on their own, and then obviously, had to change their approach. Then now, we benefit from that best practice and really able to deploy that efficiently across the board.
John: Do you then take all the best information from those 12 monthly meetings? And then do you create an annual report on ESG or sustainability or whatever you’re calling it at ITT, all the great impacts that you’ve made financially, both internally, and then the external benefits of those projects as well?
Emmanuel: Absolutely, that’s what we do. By having these monthly cadence, we’re able to aggregate all the information that we need in order to track our progress, and that’s what informs our sustainability board that we produce every year. That allows us also to better communicate. Like when we announced that 25 million investment in solar panels, what we did is we issued a press release where we detailed all the different activities we’re taking to really deploy that capital. I think that was very useful to have this information first hand, to be able to not only have these marketing effect, which is coming out with a press release, but having also the content to back up what we were saying.
John: Does that annual report then get published and does that impact report then live on your website from there?
Emmanuel: That is correct. Our last report, we published it in October of last year, and we’re getting ready now to publish our new report for 2022. It takes us a little time to get it done, so it’s about 2022, but we’re getting better, and we’re working on really shrinking that timeline also.
John: So, to our listeners and viewers, to find those impact report for ITT, please go to www.itt.com So, let’s talk about process then. This conversation is so interesting to me because like I said, most of the people that I get to interview are impact officers and sustainability officers. Is your methodology of leadership one that can be then transferred to chief sustainability officers or chief impact officers or ESG officers to use business as the compelling reason, instead of just — let’s just call it green etiology or green dogma? Is it probably great for some of those leaders to take your approach and use it themselves to help build coalitions within their companies as well?
Emmanuel: In my humble opinion, I would say, yes, because I can say that at ITT, it has worked. However, it is an approach also, which I understand maybe a little bit more difficult when you deal with gigantic corporations, corporation with 100,000, 200,000 people. But I think that there is probably a way to scale that up. I think that if you come with an edict from the top, you may be successful, but I think it’s a more difficult path than really trying to aggregate people around a common base, a common idea. That, then, maybe means different things for different people, but in the end, what matters is that everybody is invested in that idea and in that project.
John: Understood. What is exciting for you now? You’re the chief financial officer since 2020, you’ve been at ITT since 2011 or ’12. You’ve been there awhile, you got a great platform, and you’ve got five years of this green and sustainability work that you’re working on. What gets you out of bed in the morning now, that you’re working on that you’re allowed to talk about with our listeners and viewers for projects that are coming up and initiatives that are coming up in the future?
Emmanuel: First of all, I’m very grateful to ITT to give me that opportunity to be their chief financial officer. This is something that I’ve worked really hard for it and now, I’m very happy to be in that position. I think that despite the fact that we made a lot of progress, and we have, for instance, in terms of an environmental impact, we have that goal of reducing our emissions by 10% by 2026. And we are on our way because in the next report we’ll be releasing, we’ll show that between ’21 and ’22, we reduce already by 4%.
So, we’re doing well. But I think that’s what I see is so many opportunities still for us to capture. We made some good progress in terms of rooftop solar panel projects, but there are still so many facilities that do not have rooftop solar panels, and one of the reasons is because we have to fix the roof. I mean, sometimes, it’s very, very practical reasons; the roof is leaking. The roof is not supporting such a heavy weight in terms of solar panels, so you got to fix it. So, that delays the implementation of the project. Every day, we’re facing very practical problems that we need to address in a way that’s practical in order to be able to deploy that green drive that we have.
So, to me, what really gets me motivated is to see all the opportunities that we have out there and my ability to have a positive impact for the company and for the broader environment. Being able to help people in implementing projects, being able to provide advice. Seeing the impact of the work that I do in every little project is very rewarding, and it’s something that allows me to get up in the morning.
John: To some of my friends, like you, who have been born in foreign lands since you were born in France, it seems to me, from my understanding from my friends and relationships around the world, that you got an opportunity, or what I’ve been told historically as opposed to me growing up here in the United States, you were born into a culture that was more sustainability-minded from a cultural and DNA perspective, than we were historically in the United States. Has that been something that’s informed you in your life as well and now in this big important leadership position that you have at ITT?
Emmanuel: I think so, John. I think so. I was raised with mass transit. Instead of taking your car, we would take the train, before taking the car on the long trips. Recycling was always top of mind. I lived a couple of years in Germany, and if you think that France is good at recycling, I mean, go to Germany. Germany is incredible. And so, I think that shapes you. That shapes you because even if resources are plentiful, you learn how to better use those resources, and it’s not because they’re plentiful that you should waste them.
I’m not saying that’s the case here in the US, but what I’m saying is that the focus, I would say for me, at least personally in France, has been always to making sure that we get the best out of what we have before thinking about expanding and thinking about taking on more resources or buying more stuff and things that are similar.
John: Understood. What inspires you today, Emmanuel, in terms of, obviously, you’re at the CFO of ITT? Do you get inspired or do you benchmark ITT success in terms of financially valid and good, compelling ideas in sustainability and in impact against other companies? Are you constantly looking for inspiration from other companies and what they’re doing that makes great business sense but also makes an impact? And how do you go about constantly re-inspiring yourself from the world around you?
Emmanuel: Yeah. That’s a key, John. The first thing that I want to say is that I’m not afraid to copy. So, when I see something that works, when I think something that is a good practice, then I think we should shamelessly copy. There’s no reason. Obviously, you want to adapt it to your specific situation, but there’s no shame in copying. So, that’s one. The second thing is, I think, that we are still a for-profit company, and so we still track all those financial metrics. So, payback, for instance, in our solar projects is a key criteria, and it’s a function of the yield of the system.
So, payback will not be the same if you have solar panels in Saudi Arabia or if you have them in Northern Germany, right? Not at all. But you got to find ways to make it work financially as well. And so, for us, we took the view that even if the solar panel, for instance, had a payback that was a little longer than our normal payback, around 5 to 6 instead of a 3-year standard payback for all the investment project, for us, because we were addressing energy security, because we were addressing price volatility, it was worth it. It was worth it because when you do a standard payback analysis, you may say, “No, it doesn’t make sense.
You have six-year payback,” but what we’re doing is that we’re willing to bet that these three years of gap between the green project payback and a normal project payback can shift very quickly. You just need a couple of years of your electricity costs going to a thousand dollars a kilowatt hour to make it really profitable. And so, that’s why we were willing to bet that because we don’t know where everything, the range of 5 to 6 years is acceptable, even if it’s longer than the normal payback.
John: Right. Understood. Well, Emmanuel, we want to have you back on Impact in the future because as you and I know, Impact and sustainability is just like life as a journey, it’s never over, there is no finish line. And obviously, you’ve had huge success at ITT already for the last five years. I assume, with that success, you’re only going to build on that for the years ahead, so you’re always invited back to the Impact Podcast. For our listeners and viewers who want to find Emmanuel Caprais and all of his colleagues in the important and impactful work they’re doing at ITT, please go to www.itt.com. Emmanuel, thanks again for your time today. Thanks again for your fascinating journey in energy sustainability and impact, and thank you again for you and your colleagues at ITT for making the world a better place.
Emmanuel: Thank you very much, John. Thank you for having me.
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