Lara Naqushbandi Podcast Transcript

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Lara Naqushbandi: 0:00And I just thought you know what, let me actually think about what I actually want to do and stop trying to tick boxes and be like everyone else. And I thought I like the idea of building stuff and really big infrastructure projects. I did move to tech for a short while but fundamentally, like, I've always loved this idea of big infrastructure and the impact it can have, and particularly if it can decarbonise and impact on climate change. So this was very much in line with that. Renewable energy is actually really cheap and, of course, there's loads of sun, there's loads of wind. We don't have a shortage of renewable energy. The biggest challenge you have is how do I get that electricity to where I need it? So what we're doing basically is saying screw the electricity grid, we're going to produce this fuel by simply turning that electricity into fuel at source.

Amardeep Parmar: 0:44

Today in the podcast we have Lara Naqushbandi , who's the CEO and co-founder of ET fuels. They're a green fuels producer. They're seeking to decarbonise the shipping industry. Lara's got an incredible story, from wanting to be a doctor growing up to going to the fining industry to going to the mining industry with an MBA in between that, then working at Google and then giving that all up to follow her purpose and try to make a difference to the climate. It's a really interesting story to see how she's been able to be a leader at different organisations and then go to a company where she's her and two co-founders and building that up again from scratch. I hope you enjoy this episode. We're the BAE HQ and I'm Amar, and this episode is powered by HSBC Innovation Banking. So, Lara, what you've done over your career is incredible. Obviously, you started from somewhere, so when you're a kid, when you're growing up, what did you want to be?

Lara Naqushbandi: 1:37

Well. So I kind of knew what I didn't want to be. So my family mum and dad both doctors and aunts and uncles, grandparents, everyone sort of a lot of doctors in the family. I remember my dad said to me really early on I was thinking about being a doctor as well. It's an amazing profession, you know, and obviously very highly considered right in the ageing community. And I was thinking, oh, you know, I can do this job, help people have a nice lifestyle. My dad said to me if you become a doctor, I won't support you through university. And I just thought, ok, we'll find a doctor. So that's kind of you know.

Amardeep Parmar:

Why was that?

Lara Naqushbandi:

I think you know he'd come over from Kashmir and he'd had to be a medicalstudent because I guess he'd been sort of pressured into doing that and it was a way to come out of India and to move to the UK and I think he was really keen that now he'd gotten himself here, that he wanted for his kids to have the ability to choose what they really wanted to do. So it didn't really matter actually that I did actually quite want to be a doctor, but he was like no, you know exactly so. So, yeah, that's sort of. And then I think you know I was always quite into the mix of numbers and words and so I thought, well, what subject has maths and sort of writing essays? And it's basically economics. So I ended up going into that sort of economics finance room initially.


Amardeep Parmar: 2:54
So I did economics at uni as well, and I remember thinking there'd be a lot more words. So there was a lot more maths than I expected. I don't know how you found it.

Lara Naqushbandi: 3:00

Yeah, I did too. I sort of got sort of what's right word duped into that, but I actually quite like the mix of the two. So, yeah, it was a good balance, I think. And I did like an A level. I did history, double maths and French because I didn't really have, you know, a clear direction on what I wanted to do, other than I liked a bit of variety and a bit of a mix.

Amardeep Parmar: 3:20

So where you've turned out now, right? So all these kids listening now who are, like they had to argue with their parents about doing history or French, and I look, she did it and look where she is.

Lara Naqushbandi: 3:28

Well, my dad did say why are you doing French from England, right? I mean, I don't actually remember really the French I, but I would say, actually, interestingly, out of all those subjects I've done, I think, I mean I actually think that the having a diverse set of subjects really did help me, because the reality is, you know, like you don't, I'm not talking about the Second World War or like differential equation. I'm definitely talking in French, right, but I am having to like write stuff, figure out if I've got any money in the bank and our business actually, we do actually occasionally go to Well, it's based in Europe. So we do do interact with a lot of Europeans and say language would have been helpful. But yeah, I think it's really important people have that well-rounded sort of education when they're growing up.

Amardeep Parmar: 4:05

And when you're at university. When you picked economics, did you think you knew what you wanted to do next, or was it you fell into that finance space?

Lara Naqushbandi: 4:12

Yeah. So I was definitely quite risk averse and I just sort of thought, well, what's everyone else doing? And everyone else was doing banking or consulting, and you know. So I was like, fine, I'll just do banking. I just took whatever internship would take me and ended up doing that. I didn't have this like amazing clear vision on this is what I want to do and I think, also because all my family were doctors, I didn't really know what you did if you weren't a doctor and I had to navigate that whole space. You know, like what's the difference between this bank and that bank and what's accounting? So I'll just do what everyone else does. I'll apply for a bunch of stuff and see what I get.

Amardeep Parmar: 4:48

It's interesting as well, because when people that into these different careers, it might be that your family have got a prestigious job, but it doesn't necessarily help you in the other fields. Because, we're guessing, a lot of your parents' friends are probably in the medical field, right? So you didn't have an uncle who did this, who did this, who could get you a job, and that's something where people lack that external wide of view in some ways in that finance world. So if you stayed there for a little while, did you find you enjoyed it when you started, or how did that journey of like that go?

Lara Naqushbandi: 5:16

I guess when you, when you start what you don't really have a bent. I mean, so I'd done like working as a cashier for safe ways and then I went to go work an investment banking, right. So like my benchmark was, it was quite wide. Did I enjoy banking? Not really, I mean, come on right, not really, and mainly because the hours were too long and I had to wake up really early. That's me was didn't enjoy it. I had some amazing friendships out of that, actually still in touch with my best friend came from from my internship in banking and I think why didn't enjoy it? It was really. Sometimes it's really good to just do a really hard, grindy job where you know you get sort of beasted for a couple of years and you learn really high Service sort of standards, particularly if your client facing.

Amardeep Parmar: 6:05

Once you've done that a couple years right and I think undefined lot of people have that after a couple years it starts to get that itch of like is this where I want to stay? What do I want to do next? What was your path?

Lara Naqushbandi: 6:15

I was just not right so I did that for three years and I was just tired. So I just thought, you know, I have to have to figure out another path, and so I, maybe this is a bit of an old-school recommendation, but I often recommend people coming out of you need to. If you don't know what you want to do, that's totally fine. Take a job where you're ideally client-facing, because those jobs you typically get exposure to a lot of different companies and you learn a certain professional standard and it just helps you get your next thing and so that was that was kind of my approach with going into banking was. I'll get sort of professional training and then I'll figure out what I really want to do. So did my banking and then I just thought, well, I need to, I need to find a way to sort of pivot and take some time out. And I was lucky because I'd earned some bit of money during banking and so I thought I'll go to business school and take a couple of years to figure out what I want to do.

Amardeep Parmar: 7:04

And how is business school for you? Because there's a big debate between people. Do you go to business school, Do you just go and do something else instead and I just do a job or just found your own company? But do you find that was a really good experience for you?

Lara Naqushbandi: 7:15

Well, I always joke, I mean. So I think if you're actually doing something really cool, you wouldn't go to business. You actually doing the thing right. But I wasn't. I wasn't founding my own you know, billion dollar company. I was trying to get a bit of a rest after three years of banking. Business school was amazing for me because I think I hadn't had the most exciting time. At undergrad. I studied in the US and so I was this really shy English person who went to the US and if you're shy and English in the States, you're just basically like non-existent right. So I went to business school and I you know I just done three years in banking so I could relax, I could meet friends and I loved business school and it actually did help me do that career change. I decided I wanted to make really meaningful and purposeful and take my finance skills and go and apply them for something for the good. And I did that and enabled my business school through the network. I got a job working at a carbon trading private equity firm, which was sort of a mix of you know money stuff, but also helping the climate, and business school enabled that for me, so it was a really good, really good experience.

Amardeep Parmar: 8:16

It's interesting actually. We've talked a couple of times and you've come across as very confident both times. You're very chatty, very personable and as you just see when you're at university. You said you were shy and kind of out of the loop of everything. I think it's good for people to kind of recognise as well that if they're in that place where they feel like, oh, I don't really fit in, or they feel a bit shy, that there is that growth possible too and that people can adapt and feel more comfortable at the time.

Lara Naqushbandi: 8:39

Definitely. So I'm an introvert and I'm still quite awkward now, but definitely my uni days and the first few years coming out of where I was super awkward and super, I always had confidence in my, since I'm really arrogant in my intelligence, but not in my social skills or in my, you know people are going to find me interesting as a person. I don't know if they do, but like now, I don't care as much, but I think so. What helped me? And it goes back to why I did my first job. I was in sales. I don't know why these people hide. Why would you hire someone like me in sales? Bizarre, but literally all I had to do for the first year and a half was call people up and talk to them. It was. It was literally like going through torture for someone like me. But once you've done that I mean we talked about this, you know, when she's done a number of interviews or you've just you get used to it, and so that really helped. And then business, and the other thing that helped me was, you know, I did business school in America as well, and so again being in this environment where everyone's so confident and they're always talking, you kind of get toughened and so that so I think being in the environment where you have to talk helped. And then I think the second thing that helped was having somebody who actually believed in me at work. And it's such a small thing, but now you know, I had a, I had a boss, two bosses who just gave me confidence that I was a good, good worker, a good, good analyst, you know, and I I think so much now where I'm, I mean now I'm working for like a small startup it's fine, but, like in my corporate career, I used to think about how can I give people confidence, because it's so easy to say a few words here or there and just transform someone's perspective of themselves. That was really transformative for me.

Amardeep Parmar: 10:10

There's some guy now I'm working on as well because we've got a very small team, but trying to make sure to keep saying that was good, because you always think about the next thing to do and the problems and oh, we need to get this done, this done, this done. But I said a few words here and there. It doesn't have to be that much because, obviously, but it just means a lot to people. So it's just, it doesn't cost you anything to just be like oh, that's great, like, thank you for that.

Lara Naqushbandi: 10:30

Yeah.

Amardeep Parmar: 10:31

And they can remember that.

Lara Naqushbandi: 10:32

Yeah.

Amardeep Parmar: 10:33

And was that boss? Was that the banking side of things? Was that one you got into the carbon trading?

Lara Naqushbandi: 10:37

This was the banking side. So I had two lady bosses, actually, and the first one she was, she hired me in. She believed in me in the first place, which was amazing. And, yeah, her name's Christine, so thank you, Christine, if you'll listen to this, but she set really high standards so you knew if you got a well done from her. It was a genuine well done. And the second boss I had was a lady called Catalin, and she was amazing because she basically said I'm going to give you this thing to do and you're going to run with it, and I was like how could I possibly have responsibility for this? But because she believed in me to just give it to me, I felt that I could do it and both of those experiences were really, really transformative for me.

Amardeep Parmar: 11:19

So you had a couple of years at the carbon trading place, right. And you seemed to really enjoy that and the mission behind it. And what was the next part of your journey?

Lara Naqushbandi: 11:27

Yeah. So I love that place because the culture was amazing and the people that worked at that firm I mean I love. I'm still in touch with so many of them today and they built an amazing culture. So the next stage of my journey so I thought I'm going to go and save the world, do this carbon thing for like 20 years, but then the bottom fell out of the carbon markets. I just thought you know what, like, I just go back and get like a more traditional job. So I then went to work in private equity and I kind of went back into the whole what's everyone else doing and what should I be doing and what's going to look good. And so I did that, went into private equity, did that for a year and it wasn't a good fit for me for many reasons and I just thought, you know what, let me actually think about what I actually want to do and stop trying to tick boxes and be like everyone else. And I thought I like the idea of building stuff and really big infrastructure projects, because I've always had this thing where, like, what can I do? That would be useful. And you know, I thought education, health, jobs, that kind of thing, and infrastructure and energy and commodities felt like you know how do you sort of it sounds really like I don't know really arrogant. How do you help move countries out of poverty? You give them infrastructure. And so I decided to go into work for a mining company, because this mining company, via Tinto, is doing all these projects, big infrastructure projects in the developing world. Oh, that sounds really cool. And it was similar to my carbon trading days, which had been very much in the developing world infrastructure projects to reduce emissions or, to you know, to create useful things. So I worked for Rio Tinto for just under a decade.

Amardeep Parmar: 12:54

So at Rio Tinto, you spent a decade there, which is a long time like considering a lot of people now move jobs every couple of years, wherever it is, so what kept you there for so long?

Lara Naqushbandi: 13:03

Yeah, I mean again it came down to, I had some amazing managers, you know, that gave me opportunities, believed in me, opened doors for me and the work was really interesting too. You know, like we'd be doing projects all over the world really, big stuff and I felt big stuff was impactful and I enjoyed being part of this team doing big stuff. So, yeah, I didn't expect that I would stay in a mining company. I mean, you know, none of my friends are working for a mining company. They're all doing like cool, sexy stuff, like Google and this private equity thing, and I was at a mining company but it was an amazing experience, amazing journey, and you know what kept me there was just bosses who opened up opportunity after opportunity for me and, you know, really good teammates for the most part.

Amardeep Parmar: 13:47

So you said your friends are doing cool stuff like Google, which is obviously what you then went on to do.

Lara Naqushbandi:

Yeah, like 20 years too late, yeah,

Amardeep Parmar:

But it wasn't that you didn't go into Google because it was cool, did you? Or was that? What was the reasoning behind that switch?

Lara Naqushbandi: 13:59

Yeah, so I done commodities for I don't know about 15 years at that point and I done a good job of like climbing up the corporate ladder and I got quite senior and I just thought, okay, at this point I was doing the finance route and I thought, okay, I can't be held. I thought, maybe like like late 30s and I thought, well, my route now is going to be to be a CFO of a mining company and that's literally what I've been training for. And I felt, like you know, I've still got another 20 years of working. This can't be the end for me. I need to. I've done a very good job in my career of like being really clear I wanted to get to and then narrowing it on that and just making sure that everything I did was going to get me to that point, which was to be the CFO of a mining company. And then, when I saw that as the next role, I just thought, oh, like you know, I need to sort of step back and think about whether there's more to life than just doing this one job for the next 20 years. And I, so Google found the headhunter, found me on LinkedIn, but I just thought this is a great way to look totally different and random and just diversify again. You know, having honed, honed, honed. Now's a chance to do something that will take me into a whole bunch of other options. I didn't expect at the time but the other thing moving out of mining into Google gave me was just, you know, the mining company was going through some tough times, a lot of cost cutting, the culture was challenged at that point. It sort of changed over time and I didn't realize you'd go work at a place that was, like you know, really inclusive and diverse. And I know people say that Silicon Valley is not diverse and but it's such a difference from mining, you know. And yeah, I remember going to my interviews at Google and there was like little things on the table saying you know, here's how you have an inclusive meeting and I was like, well, like you have to listen to people, like you don't have to like be like I'm here, I'm here and you know they were just. I remember there were meetings at Google where the whole meeting was filled with women. I was like, how can there be a meeting with just women? Like what's happening to the world? It was just such an eye opener for me and, yeah, the move out of mining into Google while I loved infrastructure, it was just such an eye opener to think what, what should a company culture look like? I know Google's gone through some tough times, but for me personally, it was the most incredible, incredible place to work.

Amardeep Parmar: 16:10

What did you do that at Google? Thanks, obviously you were down. You're saying you're going down that CFO route in the mining world. What was the switch? What was the?

Lara Naqushbandi: 16:17

Yeah, so I did CFO in the mining world and then I joined Google as the CFO of the UK business, so I just did the functional switch. I remember someone told me, when you change jobs, there's three things that can change the function, the industry or the country, and you can't change more than two. And so I changed. I was living in Singapore as a finance person in the mining industry. I moved to the UK as a finance person in tech, so I did two of the three changes basically.

Amardeep Parmar: 16:45

We hope you're enjoying the episode so far. We just want to give a quick shout out to our headline partners, HSBC Innovation Banking. One of the biggest challenges for so many startups is finding the right bank to support them, because you might start off and try to use a traditional bank, but they don't understand what you're doing. You're just talking to an AI assistant or talking to somebody who doesn't really understand what is you've been trying to do. HSBC have got the team they're built out over years to make sure they understand what you're doing. They've got the deep sector expertise and they can help connect you with the right people to make your dreams come true. So if you want to learn more, check out HSBCInnovationbankingcom. So you obviously said your first impressions of Google were incredible and you really enjoyed that journey. What do you think that the mining experience gave you that enabled you to bring a different perspective into Google and have something you added to them?

Lara Naqushbandi: 17:36

Yeah. So a couple of things. I think the mining experience toughened me up, so it was quite a punchy environment and I made a load of mistakes around how to conduct myself as a leader. I was trying to be a 60-year-old white man and I just didn't work. Five foot three and just like. So I realized, moving to Google, that I just had to be myself. But also, having worked for just under a decade at a mining company mostly men, nearly all men right I knew how to hold my own as well. So that helped. And then, I think, the discipline of a mining company right. So Google at the time it's always growth and possibility and opportunity, whereas a mining company is like don't kill anyone, we have to deliver this and we have to do it 10% cheaper every year. It's a very different kind of energy, and so I was able to bring some of that discipline into an organization that growth was slowing down and we needed a bit more focus and discipline in some areas.

Amardeep Parmar: 18:41

By the time you left Google right, what was on your mind? What were you thinking about? What was behind your decision to leave?

Lara Naqushbandi: 18:48

So what happened? So I was at Google and I had another amazing boss I call Ronan Harris, and well, I had two bosses I had. Both of them were amazing, though my finance boss, James, and my UK boss, Ronan. Ronan had moved me out of finance into going to work for the business, and so that was a really big change for me, because I'd been a CFO or my career or a finance person, and now I was finally doing a P&L role, sort of general management, and that was a really big opportunity for me. So I wasn't really looking to leave Google. I had an amazing team, it was an amazing culture and, yeah, it was an exciting opportunity. But there was this nagging thing in me about going back to the purpose and why am I doing all this and how am I having an impact? And I was speaking to my boss, ronan, and I was sort of saying I really want to do something. That's back in my passion of climate change. And he said well, why don't you lead the sustainability initiatives for Google in the UK? So I did that, and as part of that, I hired a management consulting firm to come and help us define some aspects of sustainability strategy. Anyway, the guy that I hired Felix. He basically had come up with this idea for a business in the sustainability space with his colleague Anthony, so he pitched it to me and I just thought, well, this is an amazing idea. As much as I love Google, this feels very much in line with my purpose. The timing seems good and I had a bit of a safety net. You know, I made a bit of cash because Google shares have done really well. I thought now's the time right. I should try this and see where it takes me.

Amardeep Parmar: 20:31

And how is that like decision at the time, because you've gone from Rio Tinto, massive company, to Google, another massive company, to now starting something from scratch. Was it something which was as easy as you sounded there about, like this is the right decision? Or how is it with people around you as well? Were people around you like what are you doing? You've got you're made. Why would you go and do something yourself? Or did you get support from people around you?

Lara Naqushbandi: 20:56

The way you think. Now I'm like wondering why did I do it? So what was it? I think? So? I think a few things. I think one is everyone had just gone through Covid, right? So people did funny things after Covid. So I think my headspace was in yeah, exactly, right so. I think you know a lot of people transitioned and maybe it's sort of a subconscious thing, but you know everyone rethinking their purpose, so that must have had an impact. Again, I was sort of wondering. You know, I joined Google the first year or so. It was really challenging because I had moved industries and I was learning and growing. And then I guess I thought, well, I feel like I've done well at Google, I've proved it to myself that I can work in mining, I can do private equity and now I can even do tech. Like a ego thing, I sort of proved it, is it?

Amardeep Parmar: 21:42

Seeking a new challenge.

Lara Naqushbandi: 21:42

Yeah, it was sort of the seeking a new challenge and going back. It was very much in line with you know, in the day I did spend most of my Korean commodities. I did move to tech for a short while, but fundamentally I've always loved this idea of big infrastructure and the impact it can have, and particularly if it can decarbonise and impact on climate change. So this was very much in line with that. I think, you know, I hadn't really thought about the challenge of I'm not an entrepreneur. I'm not a, I'm an entrepreneur now, right, but I'm not someone who's woken up every day and had a million business ideas and wanted to start something and create something new. But at that particular point I felt like you know, I've got, I've had enough professional training that's been 20 years got to use it for something that I feel passionate about, and my other half so he's always said to me follow your purpose. And he's, through his life, he's done an amazing job of just being really centered on what's important and following what I've always done. What does everyone else think is going to be a good idea? What do I do that's going to get me to the next thing at some point that might want to do? I'm just like you know. Now I've got to listen to that advice, and and so I did that.

Amardeep Parmar: 22:41

And I think that really helps people who are listening, who are in that position now. Maybe they've got that experience, like I said, and the thing about shall I go and do something which I really care about or not, and it's good to hear that you have the support of your partners or people around you so you could actually go and do what you are doing now. And can you tell us a bit about what ET fuels actually is like for the audience who aren't familiar with it?

Lara Naqushbandi: 23:03

Yeah, sure. So ET fuels is a company that's seeking to produce green fuels, and these are green fuels that you can put into ships or into airplanes, for example. To decarbonize a ship or an airplane, reduce carbon emissions. And the way we are producing these green fuels is by using renewable electricity and then using that electricity to create a fuel called green hydrogen, which you can combine with other different chemicals to make these fuels, and I guess the thing we're doing that's somewhat different is basically the biggest reason or the biggest challenge in decarbonization is to decarbonize. You need a lot of renewable energy. Cars, electrify cars, electrify houses, electrify everything using renewable energy. Renewable energy is actually really cheap and, of course, there's loads of sun, there's loads of wind. We don't have a shortage of renewable energy. The biggest challenge you have is how do I get that electricity to where I need it? And the electricity grids that transport that electricity are just not fit for purpose for all this new electricity that's come on the line. So what we're doing basically is saying screw the electricity grid, we're going to produce this fuel by simply turning that electricity into fuel at source. So our sites are basically large wind and solar farms that feed directly into a factory, as opposed to going on the electricity grid and getting stuck. So that's what we're doing with ET fuels. It's a much cheaper way of producing green fuels at scale, basically.

Amardeep Parmar: 24:30

Yeah, and it's quite obviously too early to say about what big impact that could make and how has that journey been so far? So, obviously, you left Google, you joined Felix and your other co-founder, Anthony, I believe, to go and start this up, but that's a new experience for you, right? So how is that early steps of going about that?

Lara Naqushbandi: 24:49

So the start was really exciting. You have this huge potential, all this excitement about all these things you're going to do and you're running around and everything's an opportunity. Right? And then the next phase was okay, we sort of gave ourselves a window. We'll give ourselves I can't remember six months and then we'll try and raise some cash once we've achieved some milestones. And the first four months were great, the first five months. And then we're like now we need to raise some cash. And getting that first check was so hard, so hard, and I remember the stress of it and why am I doing this? And then we raised a bit of cash and obviously it's funny. I don't know, maybe it's just how things work, but once you, once you, it's like buses right, you start and then everyone piles in and then you've got enough and they're like oh well, you know, and it's very lumpy, so it's very emotional. But we raised our seed capital. And then we had another high. That's amazing, now we've actually got some stuff to. We didn't pay ourselves salary at that point, so it wasn't like. It wasn't like oh, we're done, but we could go and actually achieve some stuff. Then there was another high and do all this fun stuff. And then we're like okay, now we need to go and do our next raise and of course you know next raise like the rubber hits the road and you know the stress of are we going to get it? Are we going to get it. And the fundraising environment was quite tough. And then we did get funded. But I remember thinking after we got those funds a second time round. It was a very different experience, like my saddest, my sort of most lost day was after we just had the money hit the bank and I just thought, oh my God. So then sort of recovered from that and now. Now, though, I think that we're doing a series of projects, and now, at the point where it's not just one project or one opportunity or one customer, we've got a few options that are bubbling through. Obviously still a long way to go, but I think once you have options as a founder, you can just sleep much better at night, because you know that like be really bad if none of them work, I mean you know famous last words, but I've always thought about how do I mitigate risk but also create as much optionality as possible, and now I feel we're at a stage where we've done a decent job of getting some of the way there, and so I feel better about it. Less highs and less lows, just more stability.

Amardeep Parmar: 26:58

What do you think some of the biggest lessons you've learned so far have been from kind of the new experience after being already an incredible leader, but now being a leader in the startup instead. What's the adjustment you've made or lessons you've learned?

Lara Naqushbandi: 27:10

Well, I mean, it's funny. So being a leader, right? So I mean I worked in large corporate environments where you have to you know, once I figured out I don't have to be a 60 year old man, I still had to be a professional 40 year old woman, right? And you know, google's an amazing place to learn about leadership and how to manage teams and how to, you know, interact with your peers. And so I did that, and you know, I left Google feeling like you know what. I remember a buddy of mine said to me managing one person at Google is harder than managing 10 people somewhere else, and that was completely true. And so I'd managed quite a large team at Google and it was really hard and I'd learned so much. So I came out of Google you know this much better rounded leader and I went to go work for the startup with Anthony and Felix and I basically reverted to being like a child again you know, literally it's sort of people say about you know new co-founders like being in a family. I mean, I literally was like a 14-year-old, like really moody and just like ups and downs, and it was funny because I think, you know, I was the CEO but we were three people, unpaid, right, so not the big flattie, and I guess now we're a bigger team. We've employed people who aren't the founders and I've had to just remember that I had to act as a professional and not as a petrolant chart, you know, because you get so emotional with the start up and it matters so much more and the dynamics are so much more personal with the people you're working with. So I've kind of now reverted to going back to being more like a corporate leader. I hope you're not too boring, but yeah, I've tried to revert to that bit more.

Amardeep Parmar: 28:37

So one thing you've done as well, which I think people will be interested in, is that you've left the UK right, so you've gone to live in Portugal, and that's a new freedom. What was behind that decision? Was that something which you've been wanting to do for a while?

Lara Naqushbandi: 28:50

Yeah, so that was a sulky husband, but I mean. So, when I got married to my husband 12 years ago, we both had this plan that we were going to go and travel the world and grow, and I've always liked the idea of putting yourself into a challenging situation. And then I don't know why, maybe it's sadistic, but I just like the idea of like you grow through challenge, right, and I think you know he wanted to go and see the world, and similar kind of mindset. So we'd always agree we're going to travel. We didn't travel for a long time. When we got married we moved to Singapore with Rio. That was amazing for him, ok for me, and then we came back to the UK. You know, we sort of we put this amazing plan on the shelf and I guess you know when co-founded ET fuels, we could do that. Our plants were all over the place, they're not in a particular country, so in theory we could live anywhere and I thought you know what's actually important, right?

Amardeep Parmar: 29:44

You mean your plant, like factory plants?

Lara Naqushbandi: 29:47

Our factories, oh right, ur factories. And I just thought, you know it's been actually quite so. Where's my other half? You know, it's actually been really useful. Having somebody's perspective is look, ok, you're doing a job right, and you may think it's a very important job, but actually what's really important is what's going to be a great place to live for our family, what's going to be a great place for us to, you know, not just be doing the same thing every day, but to be in an environment where we have to grow and adapt and just, you know, be more than just a job. And so Portugal's actually been an amazing move for us because, you know, of course it's lovely weather, great lifestyle, amazing for the kids, but it's just been a reminder that there is more to life than work, you know, which has been super important.

Amardeep Parmar: 30:36

Before we go to q questions what's the dream?

Lara Naqushbandi: 30:39

I guess, from a work perspective, the dream is to get one of these plants up and running, decarbonising at industrial hyperscale, and still have my mum, my dad, my kids and my husband all talking to me.

Amardeep Parmar: 30:51

Awesome. So if we go to a quick fire, questions now. So who are three British Asians that you'd love to shout out that you think the audience should be paying attention to?

Lara Naqushbandi: 30:58

Yeah, so my first one is Mazam Asoud. He is the head of Edelman, which is a sort of communications company in the Middle East . Amazing guy. He basically set up everything for COP for the Middle East and he's just been incredibly helpful to me in terms of facilitating introductions and just being an amazing, amazing guy. My second is Julia Lalama Harajah. I met Julia on the board of a charity that used to sit on VSO. She's done some pioneering work in the FGM space but more broadly, and just an incredible lady, a visionary and has an amazing ability to bring people together and listen. And my third is a next colleague from Google, She's doing some really exciting work in combining AI and design and I just think the ability of someone to take such a complex sort of concept around AI and combine that with something creative is just super exciting. And, yeah, also a lovely, lovely, lovely person.

Amardeep Parmar: 32:01

They are all awesome. So if people want to hear more about you or what you're up to in the future, or ET fuels, where should they go?

Lara Naqushbandi: 32:08

So do all my humble bragging on LinkedIn and our website www. et-fuels. com, and as there anything you need help with? Lots. We're always looking for great engineers, so we have career postings on our website for electrical engineers, process engineers and, yeah, anyone who is in that space would love to talk to you.

Amardeep Parmar: 32:30

So thank you so much for coming on today.

Lara Naqushbandi: 32:31

Thank you, it's great to be here.

Amardeep Parmar: 32:34

Thank you for watching. Don't forget to subscribe. See you next time.