President & CEO, Newfoundland Power
St. John’s, NL
Earl Ludlow started out with dreams of becoming an engineer rather than a business leader who heads one of the largest companies in the province.
Long before becoming the president and chief executive officer of Newfoundland Power, Earl graduated from Memorial with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1980. Almost immediately afterward he enrolled in a master’s degree in engineering but found the field of study to be too technically narrow.
“I saw that I had to get more tools in the tool box,” he says.
Once he became immersed in the business environment he quickly realized it was more about relationships than transactions. It was the business side of things that piqued his interest most and so he enrolled in Memorial’s master of business administration (MBA) program.
“Personally, I’m a big believer in continuous learning. My MBA gave me the tools to carry on in this direction,” he says. “The reason I pursued engineering was because I enjoyed the sciences. I typically prefer to deal in the black and white, and avoid working in the grey. That was what my MBA gave me; that thoughtful approach which let me view one project from multiple different angles and the tools to further lever the engineering side of things.”
Mr. Ludlow says he experienced many highlights and challenges during his time at Memorial but points out that his professors in the MBA program fall into the former category.
“You quickly came to know them as people who were there as compatriots.”
The connections facilitated during his MBA were, in part, a contributing factor in his decision to sit on the board of regents at Memorial for six years and to join the advisory board at the Faculty of Business Administration for two three-year terms.
Of all the challenges he experienced, his primary focus came down to one thing: how to balance a family and school at the same time. With three young daughters and a wife who worked full time as a nurse, Mr. Ludlow dedicated his nights to completing his school work.
“How do you balance taking 10 months off work to go back to school while trying to keep a household running? You study at eight or nine o’clock at night because it has to be done,” he says. “Anything worth doing requires sacrifice.”
Mr. Ludlow says there are many keys to success – seeking happiness, focusing on top priorities, learning from the experiences of others, building relationships and being a team player, communicating effectively, embracing change, and finding a mentor – but he emphasizes that becoming involved in your community is important no matter what level of success is attained.
He was raised in a household that was always involved, he says, adding, “It was not about self but about giving.”
Now, as the head of Newfoundland Power, he emphasizes the importance of community and giving back. He takes great pride in his role as honorary lieutenant-colonel of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment (1st Battalion), and is also proud to give back as chair of the Board of Governors-Commissionaires Newfoundland and Labrador, and vice-chair of the Board of Anglican Homes Incorporated.
In 2010, Mr. Ludlow was named Humanitarian of the Year by the Canadian Red Cross and received the Paul Harris Fellow Award from Rotary International. He was also proud to co-chair Memorial University’s 2012 Reunion, Havin’ a Time, with his wife, Valerie.
“There is a time to learn and a time to take. As a business leader, it is about corporate, social and individual responsibility.”
From a business perspective, Mr. Ludlow has focused Newfoundland Power’s charitable giving on making a difference in cancer care and research in Newfoundland and Labrador but as a business leader, he is primarily focused on the safety of employees and the general public.
“Safety must be at the forefront every day and must be the solid foundation for everything you do. When you work in this industry, safety becomes your primary goal.”
Those in the electricity industry deal with a potentially lethal commodity every day. As a result, the company holds regular safety meetings, ensures the proper training is complete, recognizes and rewards safety leadership, tracks safety statistics and opportunities for improvement, and much more.
In his spare time Mr. Ludlow enjoys salmon fishing and canoeing. He and his wife regularly travel to New York, one of his favourite places to visit, and also have a keen interested in sports cars and motorcycles.