February 4, 2019
Newcastle-based energy specialist investing in future talent has been a key pillar of the business principles of Andrew Richardson, CEO at troo – the energy benchmark specialists.
His brainchild, troo, started trading in January 2017 and its mission was to help businesses procure energy in a different and fairer way. He also wanted to identify and develop talent and to embed the principles of his vision for the business energy market. This vision was to nurture customer ‘guides’ who would support businesses in procuring fair energy deals, rather than harassing them.
Fast forward to the summer of 2017 and the arrival of 21-year-old Rob Nichols, a local lad from Chester-Le-Street.
Rob was among troo’s first tranche of trainees. Having spent two years at New College Durham studying mechanical engineering, Rob was still undecided on his future. After looking at a few firms, he went on to a training programme in Byker, 180 Training. 180 linked well with business and this was its appeal. Rob felt he needed first-hand interaction with businesses, with the focus on business admin and customer service.
He explains: “I wanted to broaden my skills and get some business engagement. To see what options there were towards the end of my diploma, I attended a visit from troo and recall a good presentation from operations manager Steven Patrick, who came into our centre.”
He continues: “Steven encouraged potential apprentices to get involved. He explained how troo was different to the energy broker market and was about developing lasting customer relationships, not just getting a ‘sale’. The broker market is typically less transparent and the procurement process can be intentionally made quite complex. troo is about transparency and fairness.”
Rob initially was one of four apprentices that came to troo.
“The role got me straight into supporting existing customers and identifying new ones,” he says. “There was a two-week training programme and I was part of a small team of six troo guides when I joined.
“Andrew, the CEO, was adamant we wouldn’t be called ‘sales people’ but would guide our prospects to solutions and knowledge.
“Our process of working as a concierge for the customer is all-encompassing. Although I’d done a diploma in engineering, it played into my skills, and I saw this as potentially opening opportunities to develop further.
“This role requires a variety of skills: organisation, drive, energy, focus and tenacity. It involves structured discussion and education. Although we are mainly working over the phone, we do also guide our customers through our benchmarking portal process and we also occasionally get to meet suppliers and customers. These skills are transferable, and I’ve learned so much about the energy market.
“I’m given the freedom to explore new challenges, doing research and admin. It feels like I’ve grown along with company. We started from a small room in Byker, doubled since then and relocated to premises on Quayside.”
Initially, Rob was taken on as an apprentice, but is now on a permanent, full-time contract, and Rob’s manager, Steven Patrick, operations manager, reports that: “Rob has really embraced the troo ethos and mission.”
Rob concludes: “The role is demanding but I love it. I have a better understanding of how to nurture lasting relationships and develop market knowledge and have grown in confidence.”