Meet the MD: Alastair Tennant, D&S Services

Meet the MD: Alastair Tennant, D&S Services

As a child Alastair Tennant dreamed of spending his days riding a motorbike as a Grand Prix motorcycle racer, however these days he keeps himself busy as managing director of D&S Services. He had a chat with BQ to tell us a bit more.

Describe your role in no more than 100 words.

I wear a number of different hats but in its most basic form my role is to identify and remove 2 things: the bottlenecks for growth; and the risks to sustainable employment.

 

What is it the company does?

The company has 2 main areas. Design and manufacture stillages for the automotive, aerospace and yellow goods industries. Design, manufacture and installation of structural and secondary steelwork. We are also a general metal fabricator and get involved in a myriad of different projects with our customers.

 

Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?

My first job was working for Senior Engineering (Durham Tube), it was a graduate placement scheme ran through Durham University Business School. I didn’t study at Durham University for my degree but was lucky enough to be accepted into the programme when I graduated. My role was a bit of everything in a business that was 50 strong, I got involved in purchasing, logistics, maintenance, developed IT systems for stock control and was the site engineer responsible for improving processes. I stayed for 2 years and had enjoyed a very steep learning curve in a heavy engineering environment.

After leaving Senior Engineering I worked for Calsonic Kansei for 7 years, a tier 1 automotive assembly supplier. I worked my way through Production Engineer to Project Engineer, Project Manager and then finally to Programme Manager where I coordinated cross functional teams in delivering automotive new and facelift development projects.

I then moved to Directline Insurance. I had been absorbed in manufacturing and wanted to understand a different sector. I was there for 7 years, I started as a Supply Chain Manager and moved through a number of roles finishing as the Head of Home Claim Supply Chain where I had a team managing the home claim reinstatement suppliers and field force.

I have been very fortunate to have worked with some amazing, talented hard working people over the years. It’s all these influences that mould your behaviours and approach.

 

What do you believe makes a great leader?

I believe a great leader is by definition someone you want to follow.

A great leader has clear values and lives by them.

A great leader creates an environment where each individual feels they can give their best every day.

I know I gave my best when my values and the company’s values were aligned and I was working for someone who created the right environment for me to operate at my best every day.

 

What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?

Keeping focussed on my core role. There are so many things that distract you on a day to day basis it is so easy to channel your efforts in the wrong place.

 

How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?

I have a real passion for furniture making and I’m forever filling the house with unwanted tables and chairs.

 

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I used to idolise Barry Sheene, I wanted to be a Grand Prix motorcycle racer and was always riding my imaginary motorbike around.

 

Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?

In previous roles I have always got very frustrated with how difficult it can be to implement improvements and changes, even the smallest most obvious ones. In my current role I actively encourage change, even before it has been fully developed. If something needs improving and someone doing that job has a way of improving it, why stop them and why waste time pretending I know more about how to do their job better than them.

 

Where do you see the company in five years time?

Our growth has been measured, increasing our capability and skills and as a result increasing our customer base and project scale.

In 5 years I see D&S Services on the cutting edge of design and manufacturing capability with a wider customer base and our workforce over 70

 

What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?

It’s all about relationships. Nothing happens without great relationships so develop and nurture them.