Switched On: Moving Bord Gàis Energy from state sector monolith to private sector powerhouse in eight short years

Introduction & Background

Deregulated government monopolies aren't supposed to work. Accepted wisdom tells us that they take decades to manage the structural and cultural change required to adapt to competitive forces. What they lack in dynamism, they make up for in expertise and they take advantage of the natural inertia of their audience to keep their customer base. They emerge, perhaps not as dominant, but as respectable (if uninspiring) businesses with legacy pension obligations, HR issues and a 'job for life' culture.

In 2008, Bord Gáis Energy (BGE) faced into this future. European legislation compelled the Irish government to open up the monopolised markets for gas and electricity. The textbook said that new entrants would come in, hoover up market share from BGE and leave it as a diminished entity. But a small cohort of seasoned, sophisticated managers decided to challenge the orthodoxy and push to make the deregulated company bigger, better and more dominant than ever. In fact, they decided to push beyond the traditional role of marketing, using it as a strategic lever for business advantage.