Ed Newman, who describes his blood as orange, has been managing director of Osram since 2016. He has been with the company for close to three decades and has enjoyed every minute of his time there. Ed is a team player and his management style is one of encouragement. He enjoys working with a team that combines the wisdom of older staff members with the ‘fire’ of younger ones and believes firmly that the way to get the best out of your team is to play to their strengths.
Sparks: Where were you educated?
EN: I matriculated at John Orr Tech.
Sparks: How long have you been involved in the electrical industry?
EN: I have been involved in this industry since 1979.
Sparks: When and where did you start your career?
EN: At Amalia Lamps and Lighting, which was part of Tedelex Lighting, in 1979. I started in stores, moved to logistics and then onto sales, where I have been for most of my working life.
Sparks: What are the greatest changes you have seen over the years?
EN: The greatest change has been in lighting. In the automotive industry, lighting has changed from incandescent halogen lamps to the most sophisticated laser lighting. As cars get smarter and more efficient, the lighting within has to become sleeker, smarter and more efficient and in this environment OLED and LED laser come into their own.
Sparks: What major projects have you worked on and what is your greatest accomplishment?
EN: Three years ago I worked with a team on an LED project for a mining company. It was an underground project and we changed all the lighting from incandescent to LED. It saved the mine a tremendous amount of energy – around 2.1 MW. That was great.
On a personal level, I’d have to say my greatest accomplishment is my sons Oliver (33) and William (31). They are absolute gentlemen – so must have got their fabulous attributes from their mother!
Sparks: Have you won any awards?
EN: We won Midas Supplier of the year Award in 2015 and in 2016 and I want it again this year. When I first met Midas they were less than enchanted with our service and I asked them to give me a chance. We worked really hard and, in two years, won Supplier of the Year.
Sparks: Who has been your inspiration or have you had a mentor who has influenced your career?
EN: Issy Den of Carlton Lighting was the most inspirational person I have ever met. What he taught me in the two years I worked with him has benefitted me throughout my life.
Sparks: What, to your mind, is one of the biggest challenges facing the industry at this time?
EN: Technology is moving so fast the market cannot keep up with it and there are no industry standards. In spite of this, however, many companies are doing excellent work and it is an exciting environment to be in.
Sparks: What do you enjoy most about your job?
EN: I love every minute of it. I thrive on being around people and this office has a mix of older and younger people. Older staff provide stability and the younger ones have fire.
Sparks: How do you motivate your staff?
EN: I nurture people’s strengths rather than focus on any weaknesses and, if someone does a good job, I make it known to everyone. I also advise my team to acknowledge mistakes and to make anything that is wrong, right. I encourage staff to ask questions and to make decisions - not every decision is right, but make the decision and I strive to build up trust – Issy Den taught me that.
Sparks: If you could ‘do it all again’, would you change anything? If so, what would that be?
EN: My blood is orange - I would do exactly what I have done all over again.
Sparks: Would you advise a person leaving school to enter the electrical industry? And why?
EN: Absolutely. The opportunities are limitless – future technologies and the architectural side of lighting know no bounds. The ugliest city in the world can be made beautiful with light.
Sparks: What is your advice to electrical contractors and/or electrical engineers?
EN: My advice is to engineers: make sure you get the correct data when specifying lighting.
Sparks: What is your favourite quote?
EN: Never give up.
Sparks: Name three things on your ‘bucket list’ (things you want to do before you ‘kick the bucket’).
EN: I would like to see this company flourish; visit the Okavango Delta and the Augrabies Falls and, finally, retire to Europe so that I am close to countries I have not visited yet.