Anthony David Cocker was CEO of E.ON UK, one of the big six UK energy providers.
Tony is also chairman of Infinis Energy Management Limited's board.
He read mathematics at Lincoln College, Oxford, gaining a BA in 1981 and D.Phil. in 1984. Tony later studied at International Institute for Management Development (IMD) in Lausanne in 1988.
From 1984 to 1992 Tony worked at L.E.K. Consulting followed by Bass Brewery, joining Powergen in 1997 as head of corporate strategy and in 2001 became managing director of Energy Trading.
In 2008 he became CEO of E.ON Energy Trading in Düsseldorf and in September 2011 it was announced that he would become CEO of E.ON UK, taking that role in January 2012.
What are the challenges for business leaders?
"We are going through such turbulent times – Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine, just coming out of a pandemic, supply chain challenges, affordability challenges for our customers and our colleagues and work force shortages. As a leader you have to figure out a way of navigating that.
If you are leading a team, make sure that as a team your team have a clear purpose – from solving the problems of people and the planet and through this also making money. You need to have the right capabilities and culture within your team and you need to drive performance within that team for your customers. Building a diverse work force is crucial as is developing and retaining talent.
A clear challenge is Net Zero – how are you going to deliver Net Zero, what challenges does it pose for your business and what are the opportunities? Is there a need to change your business model?"
What are the main trends and developments for businesses?
"Net Zero provides challenges and opportunities. Achieve Net Zero and you have the opportunity to fundamentally change business models to potentially steal a march on your competitors.
Technology and digitization – there are opportunities to use technology to streamline your business, helping businesses to provide much better services to customers at a lower cost.
Meeting societal expectations on big businesses – understanding society's expectations of your business – provide decent jobs, help the environment. Business leaders need to think about how the business meets those expectations and delivers for its shareholders."
What are the skills graduates must have to be a potential business leader?
"One of the fundamental skills is the ability to analyse information and make recommendations based on that information. They need to be able to rigorously analyse information and make conclusions from it.
To work in teams and show how you have worked in teams to get the best out of people who are different form you.
Learning to understand what your customers might want from your business. Show curiosity for that.
Finally, resilience and being able to bounce back from setbacks.
Universities need to try and attract the most diverse talent so they can develop that talent for the economy."
Why did you want to be a Visiting Professor?
"Meeting students and listening to their aspirations and sharing my experience.
It is also great to meet with the other Visiting Professors (VP) and full time professors to discuss their research and areas of industry.
There is a great group of VP’s and meeting that group and learning from those people and bouncing ideas around with them. JUST AWESOME."