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Sebastien Riez, Northeast Africa & Levant Cluster President of Schneider Electric

EGYPT - Energy & Mining

Sebastien Riez

Northeast Africa & Levant Cluster President, Schneider Electric

Bio

Sebastien Riez is the President of Schneider Electric Northeast Africa & Levant (The NEAL Cluster), that covers Egypt, Sudan, Libya, Malta, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Iraq.
Riez started his journey with Schneider Electric in 2007 at Areva T&D, the transmission and distribution business that was later acquired by Schneider Electric. Throughout his tenure, he held various positions across different markets within Schneider Electric that included France, Germany and most recently the UAE where he was leading the Power Systems Division of Schneider Electric for the Middle East and Africa Zone before moving to Egypt to assume his current position. He has more than 16 years of professional experience in energy management, power transmission and distribution with a strong international background, leading teams, and organizations, building expertise in tendering, project management, business development, sales, marketing, and strategy. A French national, Riez holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics from the IUT Montpellier in France as well as a master’s in business management and marketing and an MBA in Project Management from Institut d´Administration des Entreprises (IAE).

"The Northeast and Levant Cluster includes eight countries; Egypt is the leading country in the cluster which also includes Iraq, Libya, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Malta, and Sudan."
TBY talks to Sebastien Riez, Northeast Africa & Levant Cluster President of Schneider Electric, about the company’s history in Egypt, competitive advantages, and future plans.
Can you provide an overview of Schneider Electric’s history in Egypt and its main operations and activities?

As the global specialist in the digital transformation of energy management and automation, Schneider Electric operates globally across more than 100 countries. The Northeast and Levant Cluster includes eight countries; Egypt is the leading country in the cluster which also includes Iraq, Libya, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Malta, and Sudan. In Egypt, we have been present for 35 years during which we invested more than €300 million with more than 1,500 employees serving the cluster, the majority of which are based here in Egypt, in addition to temporary workforce that is assigned based on the workload and business needs at the factory and the other facilities we have. Schneider Electric has a full ecosystem, with the head office managing the commercial operations for the cluster and factory serving the country, the cluster and the region as we export our products from the Badr Factory for electricity distribution panels to 14 countries in the Middle East and Africa. We have distribution and engineering centers. Most recently, we invested €10 million to add a new production line in the Badr factory to increase production.

What sets Egypt apart from the other areas in the cluster?

Egypt is definitely a key country in the cluster of eight countries that we manage and one of the leading countries in the Middle East and Africa for Schneider Electric. This cluster is the leader for the whole region. The size of the country and our presence in Egypt affirm its leading position, despite some past turbulences. The country has a massive population of almost 120 million people, with its purchasing power continuing to grow.

What competitive advantages does Schneider Electric have in the market?

We have been successful in recruiting talented and loyal people to the company who have the opportunity to even move within the group. We work hard to retain these talented people whenever possible while giving them the opportunity to grow and evolve; I am happy to say that around 100 Egyptian talents have relocated to the Middle East and Africa zone and the group during the past 18 months, which is a testament to the talents and skills of Egyptian calibers. Our long history in the country and the strong portfolio of strategic projects with partners have also helped us establish a strong local presence at a high level, which might not be the case for our competitors, as we like to call ourselves a global local company that combines global expertise with local knowledge of the market in which we operate. Recently, I visited the largest water treatment factory in the world which Schneider Electric is partnering with. The water segment is a top priority strategy for the country, and we are involved in most of the critical projects in this segment, including water treatment and desalination plants in Alamien and New Delta. We are also involved in the digitalization of the electrical distribution network at the country level, which is one of the largest projects for Schneider Electric worldwide. We are present in several strategic projects in the country such as transportation and Energy and Chemicals.

How do you help companies achieve the energy transition in the oil and gas sector?

The oil and gas segment is an important topic for us because in 2021 we were ranked as one of the most sustainable companies by Corporate Knights and among the top 10 companies in 2022. This might be surprising given that we work in the oil and gas sector; however, when looking to decarbonize, you need to first start with the segment with the highest level of emissions, which in this case is oil and gas. We help companies in this sector, and other sectors as well, become more efficient while saving money and reducing their carbon footprints. In the energy transition, most are focused on the supply of energy, which makes up only 40% of the equation. However, in terms of the other 60%, which is demand, we need to become more efficient in our consumption. Approximately 50% of the energy consumed is lost , which is a significant amount. If efficiency can be boosted, then it does not need to produce as much energy. The focus on sustainability should not only be on the supply side, but also on the demand side to become more efficient in the long term.

What challenges are you facing with the energy transition in Egypt?

Schneider Electric is the digital partner for sustainability and energy efficiency for our customers. Efficiency is extremely important because it means lowering emissions, which is a mean to sustainability. Depending on the characteristics of a country, we might see one or the other side of the coin. Before the energy crisis, the US and Europe were talking about sustainability for the sake of talking about going green. However, they are now facing economic uncertainties with a greater focus on cost savings. The beauty of being more efficient is we can address both at the same time. I am extremely proud to work in a company where the more we do business, the better it will be for the planet.

What are Schneider Electric’s short- and long-term priorities for Egypt?

Our first term priority is for Schneider Electric to become the trusted advisor of its customers with regards to efficiency and sustainability. We have achieved several key milestones, especially with COP 27, where we are working on many initiatives and have had several high-level meetings with ambassadors together and the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Transport; we had 10 ministers from Egypt and other countries visiting our Sustainability Hub during COP27. The main objective of our participation there was to make an impact. Our team came up with the idea to link the UN’s SDGs that are tied with Schneider Sustainability Impact 6 long-term commitments to concrete solutions as well as projects. We built Schneider Electric Sustainability Hub to showcase solutions around the six commitments and 17 SDGs in a pragmatic way. We have demonstrated how building owners equipped with Schneider Electric solutions hardware and software can be more efficient while being more comfortable at the same time. In Energy and Chemicals, our software can monitor CO2 emissions and modify processes accordingly to reduce emission depending on the company’s needs. Schneider Electric has been lauded by the industry for the concrete solutions that we have been implementing with our customers everywhere. We are currently focused on emerging countries within the cluster, which have untapped potential for us, and plan to accelerate our efforts based on our setup in Egypt, which includes our team, factory, and eventually a distribution center. Egypt will be the center from which most of the business in these countries will be addressed. We will still have teams in Iraq, Malta, and other countries, though having direct operations in Egypt will help us grow our export business further. This is one of the top priorities for both the government and Schneider Electric. We are fully aligned with this strategy.

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