After working in the Royal Engineers for 14 years, Ian decided family life was better than the forces. Using his knowledge of engineering and penchant for leadership, he worked his way to the top of Pickerings Lifts. He tells BQ his story...
What is it the company does?
Pickerings Lifts provide maintenance, callout, repair and modernisation services for all makes, models and types of lifts across the UK, as well as loading systems products, escalators and mobility equipment. We provide a full product offering to provide our customers with a full comprehensive business solution.
We are a service-based company with strong technical and engineering skills, coupled with a passion for excellent customer service.
Describe your role in no more than 100 words
I am responsible for the strategic direction of Pickerings Lifts, ensuring we achieve this year’s financial results as well as ensuring we are well positioned to achieve the following three years’ objectives and financial results too.
A critical part of this is having the right people in the right roles with a clear understanding of our strategic objectives and working with them to ensure we achieve these objectives as a company.
I also see my role as being the guardian of our culture, standards, systems and processes, setting the tone for what is and is not acceptable within the business.
Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?
I left school at 16 and joined the army as an electronic apprentice, spending 14 years in the Royal Electrical and Mechanics Engineers (REME) with tours in the UK, Germany and the Falklands.
After this I decided family life was better suited outside the forces so I joined FujiFilm Electronic Imaging Limited in Hemel Hempstead where I stayed for five years, joining as Training Centre Team Leader and leaving as International Technical Support Manager.
I then joined Pickerings Lifts as Northern Regional Manager. After seven months I was promoted to Customer Service Director and I became Managing Director in 2011.
What do you believe makes a great leader?
A great leader needs to constantly grow and evolve. Continual self-development is also important, not only managerially but personally too.
A great leader not only needs to develop themselves, but they need to ensure their team constantly develops too.
What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?
Underestimating the development required going from Service Director to Managing Director! Personal coaching was a massive help in making the transition.
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
During the week I enjoy keeping fit and enjoy a good game of five-a-side football. I have also now taken up walking football, which can be classed as mild jogging most of the time!
Although being a Managing Director is usually a 24/7 job, I try and minimise work at the weekend. At the weekend I enjoy gardening and walking in the Lake District. Both of these help clear my mind, relieve stress and improve my business thinking.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Like many of the MDs, I wanted to be a professional footballer. I’m a Wolves supporter, but I would have been delighted to play for any team that would have had me!
Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?
I detest internal politics and in-fighting amongst staff, making staff aware it will not be tolerated.
In today’s market, with increasing customer demands and strong competition, you cannot afford to waste time and energy with internal conflicts.
Where do you see the company in five years’ time?
This is a very complex question and not one with an easy answer, especially with Brexit evolving over the coming years and with a completely changing external market.
However, I believe we are well prepared to manage this situation We have a clear growth strategy and a new, forward-thinking Leadership Team that have all been promoted internally, coupled with a flexible approach to business.
I also see technology playing a wider role in our operations, both driven by ourselves and our customers and it is essential to stay at the forefront of this.
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
Continually develop yourself professionally and personally and always prepare yourself for the next role on the job ladder.
What do you wish someone had told you when you started out?
Professional qualifications are a must, however personal development, understanding yourself and understanding others are even more important and will deliver greater results.
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