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The Voice of Kimball Chen – an interview with the new President of the WLPGA

WLPGA:   Who is Kimball Chen?  A little background into Kimball’s career, what you enjoy outside of the LP Gas World?

Kimball Chen: My education and career have been quite eclectic.

I received a BA degree, Magna Cum Laude from Harvard in 1973 in the field of English and Classical Literature (ancient Greek and ancient Latin), following which I received an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1978.

After receiving my degree from HBS, I returned to New York and took up a succession of general management responsibilities in the family conglomerate, culminating the Chairman and CEO job in 1998.  I led companies involved in orthopaedic devices, digital hearing aids, artificial intelligence software, luxury food and beverages (Italian artisanal chocolate, Italian artisanal coffee, mineral water), NY commercial real estate, industrial heating and air conditioning controls, international bulk shipping and energy logistics (chemicals, LNG, metal ores, general cargoes, LNG import projects, LPG distribution).

I was also involved in public service:  the Board of Directors of Financial Services Corporation of NY (the economic development bank of NY in the 1980s), the International Chamber of Commerce G20 Advisory Group (committee of 30 top international executives providing business policy recommendations to the G20 heads of state at every G20 summit), the Board of Directors of the Eisenhower Fellowships (Leadership Network Foundation chaired by General Colin Powell), the Council on Foreign Relations.

I have advised many governments in regard to energy security and natural gas geo-politics (US, Romania, Turkey, Pakistan, Argentina, etc).  My policy interests include the following topics:  development economics, the social anthropology of economic and cultural development, cross-sector policy coordination in response to complex issues, public-private partnerships.

My leisure interests include food, fine wine, historical fiction, tennis, skiing, backgammon.

My family life is rich and multi-cultural:  my wife is Italian, my children live between London, Los Angeles and Milan.  My parents came from Shanghai and Guangdong and were senior government officials in the Chinese Empire and afterwards.

WLPGA:  What do you see as the key challenges facing the LP Gas industry in the coming years?

KC:  I see three key challenges going forward.

First, succeeding in educating government decision-makers regarding LP Gas; to do so, the WLPGA needs effective, consistent communications, using rigorous evidence-based data and analysis which have been validated also by first class non-industry experts from academia, government and international organisation experts.

Second, doing our share to develop markets.  Developing markets in all countries require cooperation between the business sector and the private sector, government must create the enabling environment and enforce good laws and standards; industry must invest and operate according to best practices; the financial sector must understand the LP Gas industry and provide finance for it; consumers must know about LP Gas, must demand it and must buy it.

Finally getting the LP Gas industry to speak with a strong, unified voice in order to get government, relevant international parties and financial markets to support the use of LP Gas where appropriate.

Kimball Chen and Jonathan Benchimol sign the agreement to co-host for the Joint World LP Gas Forum and AIGLP Congress in Miami 2014o.

WLPGA:  What do you see as the prime opportunities for the industry in the coming years?

KC: Autogas everywhere, providing LP Gas as an effective partner of electricity, for example as a means to reduce the need for electricity for peak shaving and developing countries, particularly in South East Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.

WLPGA:  How should the WLPGA respond to these challenges and opportunities?

KC: Focus on its existing mission, focus on assembling and coordinating leading LP Gas players by studying issues and communicating to all stakeholders and regulators, and finally to balance the interests of members and markets.

WLPGA:  What is your vision for your presidency of the WLPGA and how do you see this evolving over the two years?

KC: 

  1. Maintain the disciplined focus on the WLPGA Vision and Mission.
  2. Evolve to a higher level the data, policy arguments and recommendations and presentation tools of the industry.
  3. Develop to a higher level the understanding of LPG as in governments and international organisations.
  4. Doing the necessary travel to bring all WLPGA member nations closer to the WLPGA to a sense of belonging to, and benefitting from, the WLPGA.
  5. Promote public-private partnerships in order to develop markets as well as to improve government policies and government enforcement of its policies.
  6. Continue the development of the breadth and strength of the Board of Directors and Industry Council, as well as WLPGA staff.

Kimball Chen and Jonathan Benchimol sign the agreement to co-host for the Joint World LP Gas Forum and AIGLP Congress in Miami 2014