Describe your role in no more than 100 words.
County Durham Engineering and Manufacturing Network (CDEMN) is embryonic and is aimed at establishing a network that will facilitate growth through business to business engagement and extending the area’s supply chain capabilities to maximise opportunities across Europe and beyond.
As interim chairman I want to provide an environment that will enable businesses to realise their potential, and put in place a board whose members will invest time and effort to support County Durham’s business community.
What is it the company does?
CDEMN was created following the amalgamation of three established engineering forums in the north, south and east of the county. Its prime objective is to facilitate the needs of businesses to enable growth potential to be realised.
What do you believe makes a great leader?
Being true to yourself and the organisation you’re employed by; being a good listener; someone who can understand the requirements not only of the business but also the people within it; and be positive about the role to install confidence in the team around you.
What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?
Establishing an accurate data base of all the companies in the county and knowing the key contact, as well as understanding the objectives and direction of each company.
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
At the moment it's a pleasure to be doing this role, but of course like with any role there will be challenges ahead. I find taking off on my bike helps relieve any stress I do feel and it's also a great way to improve your health, test your mental strength and have time to clear your head.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I think I might still be growing up! But when I was younger I wanted to be a surveyor.
Any pet hates in the workplace?
A lack of honesty and transparency. Work can be tough but it's made more challenging when you don't know what people are thinking.
Where do you see the company in five years time?
I think what we are doing is exciting. It’s not just about generating a membership, its more about the facilitation and clear direction for businesses, both in terms of where they are going and what the key needs are which will facilitate that growth. Our vision is that all companies can, through an accurate and up to date database, know who is who, and that we are providing the support they need to realise their full potential.
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
Know what your business needs are and the direction it wants to take. Make the most of your most valued asset, the people, and nurture and develop them with consideration and care. Don't be afraid of change – embrace it as it can and will benefit your business.
Where did you start your career?
I started my working life as an apprentice at Cummins Engines in Darlington. Probable one of the best apprenticeships available in my opinion.
Give us a brief timeline of your career so far.
Starting out with a mechanical engineering apprenticeship, I moved through various support departments during my time at Cummins, including facilities production planning, industrial engineering and project management.
In 1988 I took a position at Tallent Engineering where I made a significant change to my career by going into business development.
As business development director I built up the commercial, product design and program activities. In 2009 I made the move into plant management and took on the responsibility for the Newton Aycliffe site. Guiding the company through one of its biggest recessions, where we restructured the organisation as well as establishing a leadership and development programme that helped the plant move forward. In 2014 I became UK engineering director with responsibility for all the six UK sites.
In late 2014 I decided to take a different approach and started my own company and currently enjoy getting involved in the development of the region’s engineering and manufacturing sectors.
In addition to my role with CDEMN, I am a business board member of the North East LEP and as a trustee of the region’s first UTC on Aycliffe Industrial Park.