GREGORY Bower, director at lighting company NVC South Africa for the past three began his career as a police officer. Thankfully, destiny had other plans and Greg found his niche in a lighting career where he could make the most of his God-given technological skills. He has many friends in the lighting fraternity who have spent some memorably entertaining evenings with him. Outgoing and sociable, it is no coincidence that his name can be found in the first four letters of gregarious!
Sparks: Where were you educated?
GB: Northlands Boys High School in Durban and the University of Life
Sparks: How long have you been involved in the electrical industry?
GB: I've been in the lighting industry for 16 years.
Sparks: When and where did you start your career?
GB: I started with Elco Agencies in 1995. I actually started by wiring bulkheads. I then tried my hand at selling and eventually left the SAP to pursue a career in the lighting industry.
Sparks: What are the greatest changes you have seen over the years?
GB: The advent of new technology, such as LEDs and Lighting Management Systems. I think the greatest challenge has been to stay abreast of the incredible advancements in technology.
Sparks: What major projects have you worked on and what is your greatest accomplishment?
GB: I would say the landscape lighting for the new King Shaka Airport. My greatest accomplishment would probably be when I was appointed to the international design team for NVC.
Sparks: Have you won any awards?
Sparks: Who has been your inspiration or have you had a mentor who has influenced your career?
GB: Definitely! Les Ovens has been my mentor, boss and inspiration... all thrown into one. He was one of the old school lighting engineers, and was adamant that I would not become another lighting salesperson, but would be a lighting engineer. I was taught the old method of how to do a lighting calculation, but thankfully did not have to resort to the slide rule as he allowed me the luxury of using a calculator.
Sparks: What, to your mind, are the biggest challenges facing the industry at this time?
GB: I think that right now the two biggest challenges have to be the lack of capacity in the country for new projects coupled with the fact that we are coming out of a global recession and a tremendous number of projects have either been downscaled or shelved. This has created a tremendous scope for the advancement of technological breakthroughs, which means that we can offer our clients - and the country - tremendous savings in both costs and power usage.
Sparks: What do you enjoy most about your job?
GB: I must say that I get to meet a lot of very interesting people in the industry and for me there is a tremendous amount of satisfaction in being able to see the results of my hard work.
Sparks: How do you motivate your staff?
GB: I try to lead by example and encourage my staff to make decisions. If there is work to be done, then I try to get my hands dirty with everyone else. I also believe that work must be fun. If you are not enjoying your work, you are in the wrong place.
Sparks: If you could "do it all again", would you change anything? If so, what would that be?
GB: I would not change a thing.
Sparks: Would you advise a person leaving school to enter the electrical industry? And why?
GB: I would definitely advise them to consider a career in the lighting industry. We really need young blood in this industry, as the average age of lighting engineers is not getting any younger.
Sparks: What is your advice to electrical contractors and/or electrical engineers?
GB: My advice is to stay abreast of what is happening in the technical field of lighting. There seems to be a resistance to change - but change can benefit the industry, clients and most importantly, the environment.
Sparks: What is your favourite quote?
GB: "Nothing will work unless you do." - John Wooden
Sparks: Name three things on your ‘bucket list' (things you want to do before you ‘kick the bucket').
GB: I'd like to watch a Grand Prix live, learn to scuba dive and do a freefall from an aeroplane. (The last one is a wish that comes with a lot of resistance from my wife!).