Nicola Ridges-Jones of MSX
Nicola Ridges-Jones, managing director of leading bonded warehousing provider MSX, charts her career so far and gives BQ an insight into what makes a great business leader...
What is it the company does?
MSX is a leading UK specialist in bonded warehousing and bespoke services for the travel retail industry including brand owners, airports, airlines, cruise ships and ferry operators in the UK, Europe and beyond.
Major brands and international companies trust it to handle their complex and diverse requirements for storage under bond, stock management, product consolidation, and transport and logistics.
With its own dedicated transport fleet, state of the art secure bonded warehouse facilities, and highly experienced staff, MSX is the logistics partner of choice for clients requiring a complete service for bonded and duty paid goods, from import to final delivery.
In addition, its bespoke services such as duty free product sourcing and contract packing services are much in demand from premier brands and distributors alike.
MSX’s commitment to its clients is to always go that extra mile in every sense. All its experienced, motivated staff take pride in meeting and exceeding its customers' expectations, from its warehouse operatives to its professional drivers, administration staff and management team.
What does your role involve?
My days are always varied. I can be in a business meeting, a strategic meeting or a bank meeting, and no two days are the same. Ongoing, I regularly review the business plan, ensure the team is going in the right direction, we are continuing to win new business and are always adhering to HMRC guidelines, regulations, health and safety and employment law
Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?
My first job on leaving college at the age of 18, was in the audit department of Townsend-Thoresen, a ferry company.
I then went to work for the FHSA in the finance department, calculating fees for GPs and dentists depending on the treatments they were carrying out. Each surgery had to submit claim forms for their treatment and staffing expenses and each claim was handled manually. I have always been ambitious and career driven, and I believe that’s why I quickly rose through the ranks from general admin to the deputy finance officer. My proficiency was recognised when I was made responsible for overseeing the installation of the brand-new computer system in the Chichester offices. The success of this led to me winning a role at Digital Computers, a big American company, now merged with Hewlett Packard.
It became clear to me that I wanted to establish my own business. To help achieve this I became the first member of the family to graduate from university, with a business degree. I had identified an opportunity to offer a service to the residential property market. I founded RJ Properties and, as a company we managed 500 residential lets for four letting agents, liaising between tenants and landlords and allowing the agents to concentrate on the sales.
My career then took a completely different path. In 2004, my father became ill and asked me to take over his company, Macintyre Scott-Xtra (MSX).
What do you believe makes a great leader?
In my experience, people who listen and guide, but are also prepared to change their mind if somebody puts forward a better idea make the best leaders. An open-door policy is vital, and any of my team can come to my office and talk to me at any time. I want to help them sort out problems they might have immediately.
I believe it’s so important not just to be a leader because of your title and your position; but because you’ve earned the respect of your colleagues and customers.
What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?
I suppose the biggest challenge was when I first started at MSX. My father’s sudden illness meant I came into a business that wasn’t mine and I had no experience of. I had to start from scratch building relationships with staff, our brand owners and customers. I had to rapidly demonstrate that I was worthy of the position and would continue the first rate and bespoke service they all associated with MSX, and further develop the company.
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
Walking. It’s solace for the soul. I walk around 60 miles a week. This gives me the time to think, out in the fresh air. Whether I’m in the countryside or in town I walk everyday come rain or shine.
My husband and I like to go away for weekends exploring a country or a city. I think it’s important to go by foot when you’re exploring a new place. I find if I walk around a place, instead of driving or taking public transport, I take in the history and culture so much more.
I’m about to do the South Downs Stomp. I haven’t decided how far yet, because they do 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 and 60 kilometres in a day. I don’t think I fancy 60 kilometres, that’s about 37 miles in a day. I think I’d be out there for quite some time!
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Well, I first wanted to be a vet, believe it or not, but going to university wasn’t an option at that time.
In my early teens, I wanted to join the Metropolitan Police. It seemed a very attractive prospect, and the idea of having a structured, purposeful career really appealed to me. I still think about it sometimes. Is it too late to become a Special?
I didn’t know that my father had a plan for me that he had had for 20 years. It was he who encouraged me to go to university and take a degree. He believed in me, although he’d never told me so. He was a stiff upper lip Englishman. He didn’t tell me that he had always planned for me to take over the business until a few months before he died.
Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?
I don’t like people who miss deadlines and don’t communicate. If people say, ‘I’m not going to meet this deadline’ then that’s fine, but I do like people to communicate when they can meet it and how they plan to solve the problem. I believe communication is key to a good business, and it’s something that we are passionate about at MSX. We ask for feedback from our customers regularly and have business reviews with all of them on a quarterly and sometimes monthly basis - we always want to know how we can do better.
Where do you see the company in five years’ time?
MSX is one of the leading companies in our industry. It’s a tough industry we’re in, and there’s always curve balls.
We want to continue to give our existing customers our excellent, bespoke service, and win new contracts as a result of our customer satisfaction.
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
Surround yourself with good, motivated people that understand, buy into your vision, and help you to create it.
What do you wish someone had told you when you started out?
You can be whatever you want to be, you just need the put in the hard work and dedication, and to believe in yourself. When I was younger I didn’t believed in myself, but when you take a step forward in your career and people give you good feedback about your work you soon learn to.