Bradley Chew’s role as Head-Corporate Finance at Blue Planet Environmental Solutions isn’t as simple as it sounds. Even though his roots are from a private equity background, Bradley’s role has evolved significantly at Blue Planet. It wouldn’t be remiss to say that Bradley is a key catalyst of the mammoth integration exercise that the company undertakes on a regular basis.
“I have known the Blue Planet founders since way back in 2010 when I was a fund manager. I had invested in previous ventures started by the founders, so I was very familiar with the vision and business model they were bringing to the table,” shares Bradley while giving us a background to his journey with Blue Planet. “When you leave a job to foray into a sector you have never had experience with, this comfort and confidence in the people you’re working with is extremely important.”
At 61, Bradley is one of the elder employees in a company bustling with young talent. He emphasizes with a smile that nobody makes him feel that there is an age gap of any kind.
I’m really very encouraged by the camaraderie of the people in the company. When I first started at Blue Planet, I didn’t realize how little I knew, but now I am learning a lot more about the waste management sector than I expected.
When he first joined the company, Bradley was taking care of the corporate finance side of the operation. He would take calls for raising investments, structuring deals, managing mergers & acquisitions, etc. However, he has since moved over to handle the operational aspects of Blue Planet.
“I interact with the existing Group Companies, getting to know how things are going, checking if there are any roadblocks and the solutions we can provide. And of course, I expedite the integration process among our Group companies and processes,” says Bradley. “My primary role however is to continue to look at opportunities for investments. When we look at such investment opportunities, I coordinate the due diligence, negotiate deals with prospective targets in mind, and hopefully try to see the deal through completely.”
This integration, according to Bradley, is what sets Blue Planet apart from the competition in terms of the value delivered.
“Individually, all our Group Companies have their own customer bases. And because we can build a platform, we can put the different pieces of the jigsaw puzzle together such that the sum of the parts is greater than a whole,” says Bradley.
By creating an integrated platform, we are able to deliver more value not just to the companies, but also to our customers.
The process for integrating a company within the Blue Planet ecosystem is much more nuanced and focused on strengthening holistic waste management solutions, says Bradley.
“From a commercial perspective, we try to see if a company is financially sustainable on its own. We then look at what they have on offer. Is there a technology or capability that they have that we don’t? The company should be able to provide an added dimension to the platform we already have,” shares Bradley. “We also need to understand and analyze how easy it is to assimilate or integrate these offerings into our solutions portfolio.” As Bradley puts it, Blue Planet’s strategy for expanding its ecosystem focuses on enhancing the entire solutions portfolio and therefore uplifting the entire service capability.
With Government’s across the world increasingly focusing on creating stricter legislation on waste management, there is a definite opportunity. Bradley credits India and Singapore as two countries that have been making significant progress toward driving legislation on waste management.
“In India and Singapore, the Government has really enhanced the waste management sector through legislation,” says Bradley. “Thanks to legislation and technologies, we are now able to not just send less to landfill, but also to incinerators. However, we need to create more awareness about correct upcycling, recycling, and most importantly, segregation. While regulations are in place, there is a need to create awareness among people at segregating waste at source.”
The rising trend of ESG investing has also created an increased focus on the environmental impact of various companies. However, Bradley feels that there needs to be a clear differentiation for ESG to have a tangible impact on companies and communities alike.
“I think people are using the term too casually. People think it’s a nice thing, so they call themselves ESG companies. Hence, they have access to grants, funding, etc. Over time there must be a very clear definition of companies and activities that qualify as ESG sectors,” says Bradley.
Bradley definitely considers waste management as an ESG qualifier, but the lines begin to blur with other companies that may support this sector.
“If you are a software company that has software that is used by a waste management company, do you qualify as an ESG company? These are the grey lines. The emerging trend of ESG will eventually drive change itself. When a lot of people come into the sector, it will drive differentiation. Differentiation is important to tell the good from the bad,” adds Bradley.
Forcible external intervention, in Bradley’s opinion, may not be needed for this differentiation to happen. He believes that the natural order of things will be enough in itself to sort the demarcation that the sector needs.
“I think because ESG is so attractive, there a lot of people coming in. Naturally, there will be some ‘Darwinism Theory’ that will create the differentiation,” says Bradley with a smile.
Given the number of roles Bradley handles, he is constantly on the move. At the time of this conversation, Bradley was in Malaysia and preparing to fly out to London soon. However, Bradley ensures that he spends time unwinding, and doing things that he loves the most.
“I just like to chill out with my family. Spending time with my family and our kids is mostly how I unwind apart from reading,” says Bradley. An avid golfer, Bradley also likes to spend time at the golf course, improving his scores to near the master level.