As ADM’s energy manager, Bill Houghton is at the heart of the company’s increasingly important sustainability and renewables strategy.
But the 27-year-old cheerfully admits that he gained his first management experience in decidedly less glamorous circumstances.
“I’d graduated from Dundee Uni with a degree in mechanical engineering in renewables,” he recalls. “But during the Covid pandemic I found myself working in a pub – where my early management skills were honed dealing with drunks at the bar.”
Bill’s stint in the hospitality trade was fortunately short-lived, and he soon found himself catapulted into the milling industry with ADM.
He says he had few preconceptions about milling when he joined in January 2021, but was impressed with what he saw.
“The process was very rapid, so I didn’t have much time to think about it. But I was surprised by level of automation: it wasn’t hundreds of people, just a couple of guys in a control room who would only intervene if something went wrong.”
Bill’s role at ADM is to identify and implement energy saving projects, and work with sites to identify both contractors and renewable energy projects.
Working under the company’s European energy manager, he is also tasked with overseeing the ISO 5001 energy management system.
“Energy has become one of our major costs, so sustainability is not just an ideal – it makes us financially secure,” he says.
“We have to take steps to reduce our energy usage year on year. I work a lot with the financial department trying to reduce costs – but the initiatives I’m working on can be as varied as negotiating an agreement with the district energy operator.
Originally from Preston, Bill is a devoted Manchester City fan who enjoys the odd game of golf.
But his major passion is nature photography, and he recently returned from a three-week trip taking pictures in Botswana.
“Work is very busy, but it’s important to establish a work-life balance as early as possible,” he says.