Thank you to the 1,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 questions! I hope reading
7 Questions with Dr Eric Lilford
helps you in your leadership.
7 Questions with Dr Eric Lilford
Name: Dr Eric Lilford
Current title: Executive
Current organisation: Numerous
After years in mining production, Eric entered broking as a mining investment research analyst on the JSE Securities Exchange, focused on evaluations, valuations and buy-side, sell-side transactions. He developed strong capabilities in mineral economics, while simultaneously building technical and economic expertise in the energy sector. This cumulative background supported his recent appointment to Associate Professor within the Minerals and Energy Economics Discipline at a prestigious Australian university. In addition, Eric also holds significant knowledge and experience in nuclear energy (technical and economic, including isotope separation), and thermal energy (coal, gas, solar (thermal and photovoltaic) and geothermal). On energy storage, he was the managing director (MD) of a lithium exploration company developing a lithium mica deposit in Spain for delivery of LiOH into the European markets.
He is a co-founder and director of a 2021-registered clean energy minerals company.
1. What have you found most challenging as a board member?
Different personalities more than different skills-sets. Free-thinkers bring tremendous insights and views to the Board and company, but sometimes the personalities are more difficult to deal with. Adequately guided, their contributions can be immeasurable.
2. How did you become a board member? Can you please briefly tell the story?
My qualifications and experience, combined, put me in a position that was recognised by the major shareholder of a company I was contracted to assist. That major shareholder put me on the Board of the London-listed company as a non-executive director, representing its interests. The rest is, as they say, history.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
Firstly, getting a solid few hours of undisturbed sleep is important, so I structure my days around the necessity for adequate sleep. I'm up by 05:30 daily and immediately switch on devices to "get up to speed" and plan my priorities for the day(s) ahead. Then, simply put, I attack the day, one task at a time.
I ensure I allocate around half an hour of exercise each day in my work, ensuring I retain an element of physical health which, in turn, keeps my mind focussed.
Family dinner around the table ensues at the end of the day, followed by "family time" and then a final check of business activities before lights out (including my devices).
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
"Never underestimate the power of human stupidity". While this is quote of arrogance, it's underlying meaning is poignant in separating what's important from what is not. Do not waste time on things that do not matter. Mark Manson is not necessarily a preferred business author, but his books contain many notable pieces of advice. Read him.
5. What are some of the keys to doing governance well in a organisation?
Listen to others. You don't know everyhting, no matter how smart you (think) you are. However, ensure you are appropriately knowledgeable in the first instance.
6. How do you differentiate between the role of board member and the roles of CEO or executive team member of a organisation?
The Board guides the CEO who, in turn, reports to the Board. The CEO (or executive director(s)) is the link between the Board and the company's management and other personnel.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a board member so far?
These anecdotes are saved for a chat over a beer. I'm more than happy to elucidate as I have numerous stories to tell, but I'd prefer to tell these stories under an alternative setting.