Bahay Ozcakmak is the Managing Director of Parkway Minerals (ASX:PWN). Under Bahay’s leadership, Parkway Minerals is emerging as a disruptive water TechCo, focused on leveraging a world-class technology portfolio to provide long-term sustainable solutions for processing complex brines, in the energy, mining and wastewater industries. The company has generated significant interest, as the technology has the potential to significantly improve the efficiency, performance and sustainability of a range of industrial operations, particularly in conventional brine and minerals processing related applications, globally.
What’s your journey in becoming an MD?
I studied science and commerce at The University of Melbourne, whilst working in a number of R&D and technology commercialisation related roles, both in the public and private sector. Throughout my career, I’ve been fortunate to have been a part of a number successful teams in the biotech, energy, renewables and mining sectors. When I look back at what attracted me to each of these roles, it was always the prospect of utilising technology to do things better, more efficiently, more sustainably. These diverse roles provided me with a really broad range of practical technology commercialisation related experiences, and most importantly “lessons learned”. What could we have done better? As a young kid, I had an entrepreneurial streak, so I always knew I wanted to lead something technology focused, sustainable, that could make a real difference.
As I gained more professional and corporate experience, in early 2010, I founded an energy technology company with the support of a listed company. We invested ~$10m over 3 years to build a successful power cycle TechCo, we owned half an operating geothermal power plant, with TechCo being acquired by the listed company. Around the same time, I recognised that water was going to become a major global challenge, so I started laying the foundations for a water TechCo which I incubated privately for a number of years. As the private company, Activated Water Technologies secured funding, grew and continued to achieve key technical and commercial milestones, it got to a point where we recognised it would make sense to get AWT public. Through a series of corporate transactions, AWT was eventually acquired by Parkway Minerals.
In late 2019, following the Parkway Minerals AGM, I was appointed Managing Director and in the subsequent 6 or 7 months we have been transitioning the company from an exploration focus, to a more technology focus, as this is where we have the opportunity to create the most value. Along the way, I’ve held directorships in various public and private companies, including in Australia, Canada and the U.K in mostly technology and mining focused entities
Tell us a bit about your business and how you are commercializing?
At Parkway Minerals, we are commercialising a world-class technology portfolio to provide long-term sustainable solutions for processing complex brines, in the energy, mining and wastewater industries. Through a strategic partnership with Victoria University, our own inhouse R&D and a number of acquisitions, we have assembled a highly valuable and strategic technology portfolio. As the technology has matured, we are now partnering with leading industry participants to provide, BPaaS – Brine Processing as a Solution™. In order to assist us commercialise our technology, we recently announced a partnership with Worley, a leading global engineering company.
How are you managing with the current COVID-19 pandemic on both business and personal front?
In terms of Parkway, we established an Engineering & Technology Office at Victoria University at the beginning of the year, and recruited a high-calibre engineering team. In March and into April when we started observing COVID-19 related disruptions, we pivoted to focusing on our own internal capability development, to build the foundations of the business, ready for when the world returns to some form of normality. On the personal front, in recent years I’ve spent a large proportion of my time on the road. The last few months have provided me with an opportunity to focus and develop some medium and longer term plans.
What’s the most exciting thing about running your business?
Building (and working with) a team of intelligent and experienced individuals focused on developing innovative technology, to solve growing challenges facing the global energy, mining and wastewater sectors. As a team, we genuinely believe in our mission to provide long-term sustainable solutions for processing complex brines, in the energy, mining and wastewater industries. This is what drives us. The passion of the team is really quite contagious and a real strength in enabling us attract high calibre partners.
How do you measure success?
Ultimately by making a difference. We want to be recognised as a leading technology solution provider for high value challenges that have previously been deemed too difficult. More specifically, by having our BPaaS – Brine Processing as a Solution™ offering, being adopted by major global companies, to improve the sustainability and performance of their operations, profitably.
What do you think is the most important quality of being an MD of a listed company?
There are so many; energy, experience, alignment, but in a rapidly changing world, I’d like to propose, independent/critical thinker. In many listed companies, particularly at the junior end of the market, there is often a case of groupthink, jumping on the bandwagon for whatever happens to be the flavour of the day. Mining investment guru Rick Rule often talks about, either being a contrarian, or a victim. Whilst Rick is describing investors in markets, the same is often also true for listed companies, hence the need for a CEO to be able to filter out the noise and focus on creating sources of sustained competitive advantage. This requires independent/critical thinking. In the case of Parkway Minerals, we are charting our own course. We are endeavouring to provide high value solutions, to difficult problems. We are not too fussed with what else the competition is or isn’t doing.
What is your favourite book?
I love Principles by Ray Dalio and also reading about entrepreneurial journeys, particularly over the summer break. But if I had to narrow it down to my favourite, it would have to be Zero to One, by Peter Thiel. This is a great read for leaders looking beyond incremental improvement, towards transformational disruption — the best of Silicon Valley in one book.
What message do you want to send to our readership in Asia?
Real economic opportunity can only truly be created through sustainable growth, and technology has a very important role to play. COVID-19 appears to be accelerating a number of macro trends that were already in motion, including in relation to societal expectations of demanding increased adoption of environmental, social and governance (ESG) related considerations. Whilst adoption of ESG friendly policies at first can appear somewhat ambitious, early adopters have the opportunity to establish a competitive advantage, underpinning long term economic growth, whilst late adopters risk being left behind.
Parkway Minerals is positioning itself to not only be a passenger during these inevitable macroeconomic changes, but we are actively seeking to be part of the longterm solution, as we see these changes through the lense of opportunity.
How can people connect with you?
Company Website: https://www.parkwayminerals.com.au/