Boss it like

How To Boss It Like… Pavegen CEO Laurence Kemball-Cook

By Oliver Smith 12 October 2017

These leaders are changing our world for the better. We find out how they get the job done.

There are a handful of business leaders and industry figures in Britain who are changing the world.

From Ada’s List co-founder Anjali Ramachandran to Tide’s George Bevis, these smart people get an incredible amount done, in an impossibly short space of time.

This morning we’re talking to Laurence Kemball-Cook, CEO of Pavegen, who is undoubtedly a productivity guru.

Meet Laurence Kemball-Cook

Sustainability and green technology have always been close to Kemball-Cook’s heart.

He began his career as a sustainable designer at an architect’s, before becoming a design engineer at Eon on sustainable street lighting projects.

In 2009 he launched Pavegen, a floor tile that converts the kinetic energy of a footstep into renewable electricity.

Since then Pavegen has been installed on Oxford Street, in Heathrow Airport and is used to power floodlights at football pitches in Rio de Janeiro and Lagos.

A busy man, with big ideas, The Memo asked Kemball-Cook, how he gets it all done…

What time do you get up, and what part of your morning routine sets you up for the day?

I usually get up at 7am and check news websites or my social feeds, maybe TechCrunch too.

If I have time I spend an hour on the turbo trainer or go for a short run. If I’m not training then I will typically meditate for 20 minutes.

Once I’m set I usually blend some sort of epic protein powder smoothie, often resulting in the covering of my kitchen in a trail of destruction!

What apps or methods do you use to be more productive?

In the office we use a messaging service called Slack, which is a good way to keep track of the team when I’m not in the office!

I’m also a big fan of Twitter and WhatsApp as it helps to keep in contact our international team and groups. I also cycle between all my meetings and sometimes manage 40km a day on my Brompton!

What smartphone do you have?

I have a 64gb iPhone 6, I have 5 phone battery cases to keep me powered up while travelling/ running around London.

How many people, outside of family, do you meet in a day?

A typical day can range between 20-500 people! It would normally start off with a breakfast meeting with my mentor, Will King (Founder of King of Shaves), then a client meeting in my office.

I’m usually able to grab 2 hours working with the team on some investment material and new sales opportunities we are looking at, and then out in the afternoon again for either a keynote pitch or press based interview on Bird Street, our newest installation.

If I’m lucky I can grab a quick 10 min call to my EA to make sure I am on top of inbound emails. It’s then followed by 2 more hours in the office in the late afternoon to catch up with team and progress, evening is usually an event or dinner with a client/ investor.

Get home 11pm and play some 90’s hip hop and relax!

What book have you read, either recently or in the past, that has inspired you?

I am a big fan of 90s hip hop, so The Wu-Tang Manual by the RZA was a really good read. It gave real insight into the nine members of the group, and all the struggles and hardships they overcame.

I read this book when I was still in the early stages of developing Pavegen and this book really helped to remind me that you should set focus on your dreams and don’t stop despite the setbacks.

What advice would you give for people who are eager to get into your industry?

We are in the clean-tech, wellness and smart city sector, there are a load of opportunities coming up in the fast emerging sector, I would be persistent, show commitment and keep thinking of new ideas.

When do you work until? Are you still sending emails in the night? Or do you have a wind down routine?

I have never had a job, all I have done in my career so far is build ideas, the idea of ‘switching off’ has fascinated me and I believe I can constantly improve this.

The best wind down routine for me is to do an urban triathlon with friends, we head to Athlete Lab in Canon Street, ride 20km then jump off and run 15km along the river followed by some beers!

I am always working and will sometimes work till 3am if there is a lot on.

What was your favourite childhood toy?

I used to love building stuff and also blowing up stuff, I was creative yet destructive at the same time.

I refined hydrogen once to make a mini- hydrogen bomb and when I detonated it, the shock wave cracked the neighbour’s windows.

If you could ask your idol one question, who would it be, and what would you ask?

I would ask the inventor of modern-day steam trains, Robert Stephenson how he overcame such massive engineering and human challenges to transform transport as we see it today.

In 1829, when he invented it, people thought that travelling 28mph would cause their bones to turn to dust and they would die from lack of oxygen.

I would ask him – How did he persuade people his idea was going to work in the first place?

Come back next Thursday for our next #BossItLike interview, and get in touch if you know a leader who’s also a productivity guru for us to talk to.