Creating a sustainable, circular economy - An interview with Igor Rakovich

Plugsurfer Igor Rakovich was recently promoted to Director of Finance. We sat down with him to get an understanding of the work he has done since he joined us last year to fully integrate Plugsurfing into our parent company, Corpay, and learn a bit more about his background and worldview as well.

💼 Tell us a bit about your background. What did you do before you joined Plugsurfing?

Most of my experience over the last 16 years has been in Finance for international energy companies, where I’ve had the opportunity to lead many teams in Germany, Norway, Poland, and Russia. I’ve been involved in several mergers and acquisitions projects, looking at growth and change management from a finance perspective. Working in these dynamic and scaling environments is rewarding since you can see the results quickly. And what’s important to me, on a personal level, is that I’m a piece of the puzzle in helping to create a sustainable, circular economy. I feel like I’ve found a perfect home at Plugsurfing when it comes to that.

⚖️ You joined the Plugsurfing team when we integrated our finances into the broader Corpay family. What were some of the challenges there?

Plugsurfing is firmly in its scale-up stage and developing very fast. So, the finance function needed to mature. An aspect of this maturation was to take the reporting mechanisms from the much larger Corpay organization and bring them into Plugsurfing along with building scaleable automatized operational processes. One of the first things was the introduction of ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) to Plugsurfing, replacing multiple non-integrated tools and building our internal finance function, since this was primarily outsourced before the acquisition by Corpay.

Of course, here in the finance team, we are straddling two very different company cultures, one in a scale-up state and another an established publicly listed company in the US. So it was important for me to keep this in mind when building the team: to look for the right people who embody a proactive, agile mindset and a high degree of finance professionalism. This isn’t easy to find.

📈 EV charging is an industry in its early growth stage. How do you balance the financial needs of a publicly listed company with the needs of a young business in its scaling stage? Can these be complementary?

Overall, Plugsurfing’s new home in Corpay is a win-win for both parties. Corpay gets a fast, out-of-the-box solution to satisfy its customers’ growing needs from an EV perspective. Plugsurfing really helps accelerate this process, and the integration of Plugsurfing into existing Corpay products has been relatively rapid.

At the same time, Plugsurfing benefits since the emobility space is young and dynamic. There’s stable funding and a degree of certainty for the business. There’s also certainty and benefits for employees who can now see career perspectives in a broader, international organization. This is very different than if we were a startup on our own.

The principal challenge we face as the finance team is providing a high standard of reporting to a publicly listed US entity. But it’s getting better every day as we upgrade our systems and processes and grow the finance team.

🇪🇺 You mentioned the international nature of Plugsurfing and Corpay. What are some of the challenges cross-border emobility service providers like Plugsurfing face?

VAT is a massive complexity, even within the single European market. There needs to be more standardization for VAT registration across member states, and we need to register in every single one since we are selling goods and services in the form of energy across the continent. But sometimes, the bureaucracy costs us more from an opex perspective than we even have revenue in the country since the market maturation for emobility varies widely across Europe. We’ve been advocating to establish a one-stop-shop with industry associations to help reduce this burden.

Additionally, products and services in the emobility space are developing very fast. Finance does not always have systems to support this innovation fast enough. When Plugsurfing develops a new product, we need to find a way to operationalize this from a back-office, compliance, and VAT perspective.

️Is there anything unique about working at Plugsurfng?

You know, this Plugsurfing is a very rewarding place to work. We’re in an innovative space, and many talented individuals here are passionate about what they do. I can see my colleagues’ impact, which makes coming to work every day a really motivating and inspiring experience.