Change is written into the corporate DNA at Conlog. The Durban-based metering firm was established in 1965 as an electronics design company, focusing predominantly on the industrial sector and producing mostly alarms and monitoring devices. In the 1970s, its focus expanded to include motoring and control devices; in the 1980s they added lighting, automotive alarms and cruise controls to their product offering; and by the 1990s they were creating electricity prepayment solutions. Conlog now has the world’s largest base of smart meters and prepaid solutions, with a footprint spanning more than 20 countries.
The company’s move into smart metering is a natural part of its growth. ‘Our advancement into the smart metering space was for us to take as much benefit as we can from the prepaid metering space,’ says Conlog CEO Logan Moodley.
‘What we offer is quite unique – our smart metering solution goes on the prepaid platform. It’s interesting if you consider the market we are targeting, specifically within the African continent. While smart metering is certainly a requirement there, prepaid still remains very relevant. Our offering brings those two worlds together.’
Moodley believes that the power industry – and especially the metering subsector, in which Conlog is such a dominant player – now finds itself at a crucial turning point. ‘It’s very quickly evolving to include the likes of the telcos and the ISPs,’ he says. ‘You have to be responsive to what that means, both for your competitive environment and also for who could stand alongside you.
‘Over the past few years, at Conlog we have centred ourselves around our original identity, which was based on innovation. Innovation is where the ability to respond in an agile fashion comes from. It’s about leading the discussion and being involved at the forefront, as opposed to taking steps that others have determined for you.’
This forms part of what Moodley calls ‘a very considered approach’ to software, hardware, big data and smart solutions. ‘We have spent a lot of time bringing our metering technology together with our software offering, and investigating what technology will be used for analysis and delivery of this information to the various users,’ he says. ‘Our approach is considered around what is valuable to the user – be it the utility user, facility user or end-consumer – in terms of interpreting all the data we have access to. Having the view of what is valuable to the user, rather than simply presenting them with beautifully designed dashboards, is the first question we answer in terms of creating a value proposition.’
Moodley started at Conlog as a soft-ware developer, and his path to the CEO position – a role he took up in November last year – has mirrored the company’s own journey. ‘What was fantastic about it is that I was always granted opportunities to indulge my curiosity,’ he says. ‘For any engineer, that’s the one thing that stays with you – your curiosity. I always tried to understand software development from the user’s perspective, asking how they would want to see it work. This saw me travel a lot, and I forged relationships with clients to the point where the business team said, “We’ve got to have to have Logan in this discussion, because even as an engineer he can bring a lot of value”.’
That led to Moodley asking how the company could package its solutions to create value for its end-users – a question that took him into the solutions and revenue side of the business. ‘This allowed me to focus on a different dimension of problem-solving,’ he says. ‘The business responded to that, and it led to more interactions with clients and end-users.’
Today Moodley still enjoys the same things he did as a software engineer – interacting with clients and solving problems, both technically and commercially. ‘It’s a huge passion of mine, and I get to do it every day,’ he says. Of course, many business leaders will tell you that they love their job. However, speaking to Moodley, it’s clear that, yes, he loves his job as Conlog CEO – but more than that, he loves the work. ‘I do,’ he says. ‘I get out of bed and try to get here as quickly and as early as possible. The moment you stop having fun, you should stop altogether.’
Moodley’s leadership approach is profoundly informed by his own career journey. ‘It’s difficult to measure Conlog against other tech companies,’ he says. ‘Typically you’d have engineers walk into a business like ours, spend a certain amount of time, and then get bored with the tech or with the execution of the tech and find something else to do. That’s just the nature of engineers. But at Conlog, the engineering team, production team, supply team, management team … across all aspects of our business, people have come here and stayed.’
The reason they stay, he says, is because of the company’s ‘family culture’ – one that he’s worked hard to develop and maintain. ‘You get a sense of belonging,’ he says. ‘That was the first thing that resonated with me right in the beginning – that I belonged to something special. I wanted to stay and be part of it.’