LEADERS SURVEY: AGL CEO Damien Nicks says get some feathers on your wings and talks ‘ambitious momentum’

Adrian Rauso
The Nightly
3 Min Read
AGL chief executive Damien Nicks says the best piece of advice he received was “to get some feathers on my wings”. 
AGL chief executive Damien Nicks says the best piece of advice he received was “to get some feathers on my wings”.  Credit: AGL

The boss of Australia’s second-largest residential electricity provider believes it’s not enough to “work hard and work fast”.

“You need to have a holistic, 360-degree perspective on the business, industry, and stakeholders,” AGL chief executive Damien Nicks told The Nightly for its exclusive Leaders Survey.

“It also includes expanding your leadership and those ‘softer skills’ that can be make or break when leading a diverse team and organisation.

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“I’ve been lucky enough to have mentors who have invested the time in my professional development.”

Mr Nicks said the best piece of advice he received was “to get some feathers on my wings”.

“It’s advice I take with me to this day … I took it to reflect how important it is to broaden your breadth and capacity,” he said.

“I also feel a sense of responsibility to pass on feedback and advice.”

The former chief financial officer of AGL is an early riser and thinks it’s crucial to getting ahead of the day.

“I usually (start my day) around 5.30am … I find having an hour or so to myself immensely useful, I catch up on the news of the day and plan my day, week and month” he said.

“I connect with my team throughout the day to catch up on key projects. It’s important to me that my team have accountability – and everyone I work with is very clear on our roles and responsibilities as we undertake our energy transition.

“It’s this mindset that enables us to ‘show, not tell’.”

Mr Nicks also believes having an ambitious and focused team is required to tackle the big challenges.

“These qualities are essential and feed into what I call “ambitious momentum” – all of which is vital for a company like AGL and especially given the huge (energy) transition and strategy we’re working towards,” he said.

“Equally important is accountability and clarity about roles and deliverables so everyone is clear about their purpose.

“It’s easy to think of AGL as just a company, but ultimately, it’s our teams and people that are going to deliver on the energy transition.”

It’s not surprising that he sees the ongoing transition to cleaner sources of energy as a key opportunity for Australia, but he highlights both positives and challenges.

“We believe electrification is the future and we are pursuing and growing value pools through decarbonizing the way our customers live, move and work,” he said.

“Some of our initiatives include the launch of Electrify Now, our e-mobility partnership with bp Pulse, and our Commercial and Industrial Energy-as-a-Service offering.

“By 2050, electricity demand is likely to double and AGL has the exciting opportunity to support customers through this transition and transform their relationship with energy today.”

But Mr Nicks is also cognisant of the obstacles in the way of a smooth transition, particularly the impact on the hip pockets of everyday Australians.

“I think we need to do a better job at explaining the costs of the transition, particularly for customers,” he said.

“It’s important to make sure our customers know when they get a bill from AGL what exactly makes up that bill.

“What I would say is the best way for us to minimise the cost of the transition is to ensure we are coordinating supply chains and approvals across all levels of government.”

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