Business Talk with Enrique Inukai, Chief Financial Officer & HR Director of Buskowitz Energy

Business Talk with Enrique Inukai

Mexican-Japanese Enrique Inukai is the Chief Financial Officer & HR Director of Buskowitz Energy, an integrated sustainable energy and solutions group of companies that specializes in cost-efficient and environmentally-friendly rooftop photovoltaic solar systems. From 2013, he worked with Coca-Cola FEMSA in Mexico as Financial Information and Consolidation Manager and, in 2012, came to the Philippines to be one of the lead Acquisition Principals during the merger of Coca-Cola and Coca-Cola FEMSA. Inukai joined Buskowitz in September 2018.


Could you tell us about Buskowitz Energy?

Buskowitz has been around for the past 7 years, and it has evolved to meet the needs of the market. It started with a very simple idea of my business partner—his family owns a hotel in Boracay—to install a solar photovoltaic (PV) system on the hotel’s rooftop. When they did that, they saw an opportunity for business because renewable energy in the Philippines was still in its infancy stage then. There was some resistance at the beginning because it’s hard for people to buy something expensive, as it was years ago, which they are not familiar with.

The business evolved into what it is today. We dealt with that resistance by offering a Build-Operate-Lease-Transfer (BOLT) product. Clients can still buy the system from us, but more conservative clients could go into a 20-year BOLT contract. Buskowitz will install the PV system on their rooftops and sell the energy at a much lower rate. It’s less risky for the client because they don’t need to buy anything, they just pay for a security deposit, and will consume whatever the system is producing. Since it’s cheaper and cleaner, it becomes more attractive to them.


Were there other challenges that you encountered along the way?

There was also the challenge of getting the right people for the job because solar PV system was not very developed yet in the Philippines, so it was hard to get people who knew about this technology. Luckily, we got a hold of a celebrity electrical engineer in the Philippines and got to be part of his team. In fact, he is the first certified renewable energy electrician in the Philippines. This has helped us a lot in developing the next generation of electrical engineers. We are constantly looking out for new people, and we enjoy developing our existing engineers’ skills by sending them to more trainings and courses.


Other than BOLT, what other services do you have?

One of the services we came up with last year was electrical engineering. You can see a lot of the buildings here in Makati are not well-maintained. And that’s high-risk because anytime, it can cause a short circuit or eventually fire. When we were processing permits for an installation for one school, one of the local authorities recommended rewiring. We had the capacity and skills, so we did it. It’s an easy thing to do, it does not require a lot of investment, and it’s highly profitable. It’s a win-win for the client because they have new wires, and they get their energy in a more efficient way.


Can you tell us more about your role in the company?

I wear two hats. I’m in charge of finance and HR.

My role on the HR side is to get the right people and improve the processes. The company has been here for 7 years, but it’s been relatively small. Processes originally did not need to be that sophisticated because the company was easy to handle, but as we’re growing, the challenge from the HR point of view was to refine a lot of the processes.

On the finance side, my role is to get money because when the client goes for the BOLT product, they don’t need to invest. It’s us who are investing. Another is mostly cash management and making people aware of their expenses and financial KPIs in order to keep this company profitable because we have an obligation to our shareholders.

Eventually, we plan to go public in about 4 years. We’re preparing for this company to be equipped and marketable so that all investors can buy from the market.


What other plans do you have in the near future?

Right now, our focus is mainly on energy, but conceptually, the company is about sustainability—whether it’s solar energy or waste management. When it comes to renewable energy or contributing to the environment, there are a lot of opportunities. Right now, our main focus is solar energy—providing clean energy while helping our clients save money.


What can you say about the energy industry in the Philippines?

People in general were not aware of renewable energy. Now, our citizens are becoming more conscious in terms of sustainability, as well as with their personal finances. If you combine those two, it’s the perfect market for us because you have people who are willing to contribute to the environment and people who want to save money. So, we provide cleaner energy and at a cheaper price.

There is a plan by the UN together with the Department of Energy to provide access to clean energy to everyone in the Philippines by the year 2030, so we want to keep creating a ripple of change and contribute to that. We cannot leave everything up to the government, so the private companies have to contribute a lot to this.


Among the experiences you had, what has made the most impact on your role?

I came from a big corporation, and it took me a while to adjust to a much smaller company. But what I like about being here is, while everyone hates Mondays, I always look forward to it. I like coming here to the office because you can take whatever opportunity you see, and you can solve whatever problem you see right away. If I were in a big corporation and I needed a laptop, it would take months before I could get it. But here, when someone needs a laptop, I can personally go to the store and get it in 30 minutes. Our company is smaller, but we move faster. We react faster. it’s all about collective effort.


Describe your typical day at the office.

My typical day isn’t typical. Every day is different.

I don’t have my own office. I use the desk by the entrance, where anyone can drop by anytime when they have a problem or need something. I like solving problems. I like being useful to other people. I can consider that my typical day.


What can you say about working with Filipinos?

Filipinos are very hardworking people. I like how we work together; otherwise, I wouldn’t be here. They enjoy doing what they do. They will always do it with a very good attitude.

Originally published on Philippine Primer

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