Interview

In Profile with James Hygate of Firefly Green Fuels

Welcome to January’s edition of our special monthly feature which gives you the opportunity to ‘meet’ an industry figure and, hopefully, to discover another side to them beyond the well-known facts. This month we chat with James Hygate, CEO at Firefly Green Fuels.

In Profile - January - James Hygate

“In a fast growth business, meetings should be focused and succinct”

James Hygate

Please give your career history in 25 words or fewer.

My career has been focused on researching and developing innovative green fuels, at first for road transport and now for aircraft.

Describe yourself in 3 words.

Glass half full (you have to be in this industry!)

What were your childhood /early ambitions?

I studied zoology, and my early ambitions were to be a science communicator. I was a huge fan of David Attenborough and remember thinking that I wanted to do what he does for a living!

Describe your dream job.

It’s going to sound corny, but this is my dream job, I can’t think of anything that I want to do more than make an impact on the climate crisis through my work.

What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received?

Focus on the 10% of your activities which drive most of the value. Relentlessly. Gyshido (The art of getting your sh*t done) – appropriate for our line of work!

Share your top business tips.

Listen to your gut and learn when to take calculated risks. Mistakes, or even failure can be a valuable tool for learning, as long as you take the time to properly reflect on it, there is always an upside.

What is your most recent business achievement?

We secured a £5m investment from one of the world’s greenest airlines Wizz Air with a valuable off take agreement for 525,000 tonnes of our fuel once we are in production.

Tell us your greatest fear.

Seeing my children grow up in a climate crisis. I want to do all that I can to ensure that they have the best possible future.

Which is most important – ambition or talent?

For a business to succeed, both are equally important. Luckily for us we have a fantastic group of talented and ambitious staff members working at Firefly all of which are fully aligned with our mission to decarbonise aviation.

What’s the best thing about your job?

Every time I go to a conference or sit in a meeting with others working in this space it energises me so much to see how passionate and driven we all are. Everybody is on board with the mission, there is a shared goal of decarbonisation and that’s really brilliant.

Which is the quality that you most admire?

There are so many qualities in others that I admire – ambition, humility, passion etc.  If I had to choose one, it would be determination. People on a mission who work tirelessly to achieve their goals are truly awe inspiring. I am extremely fortunate to work alongside some very determined people, and I am full of admiration for them all.

What are you most likely to say?

Yes

What are you least likely to say?

No

Describe your perfect day

Probably taking a SAF-powered flight to somewhere warm with a hammock and a cocktail…

Your favourite sports team?

Gloucester Rugby

What is the biggest challenge of our time?

Solving the climate crisis undoubtedly.

Cheese or chocolate?

Cheese.

What is your biggest irritant?

Long meetings. In a fast growth business, meetings should be focused and succinct.

Share your greatest personal achievement.

The thing that I’m most proud of on a day-to-day basis is my family, and seeing my children grow into really admirable people. My son is about to head off to university and I couldn’t be more proud of him. I think that building a loving home with my fantastic partner is my greatest achievement.

If you were on ‘Mastermind’ what would your specialist subject be?

Biofuels obviously! Either that or cars, I managed to fill my brain with lots of car details growing up. Show me a headlight and I will name the vehicle….

If you were elected to government what would be the first law you’d press for?

I’d probably opt for something to force polluters to pay a fair value for their emissions, currently fossil fuels are too cheap slowing the uptake of renewables.

If your 20-year-old self saw you now what would they think?

Wow. I have a proper job!

What is number 1 on your bucket list?

I would love to go on a trip deep into the wilderness, somewhere like the Amazon rainforest or northern Canada.

What 3 things would you take to a desert island?

A boat, a map, a large amount of sustainable fuel.

Tell us something about you that people would be very surprised by

I had a pet boa constrictor caller Boris.

Who would you most like to ask these questions of?

The King.