With a background in the military, Oliver’s passion for some well shined shoes in the workplace comes as absolutely no surprise! The MD of a billion-Euro turnover firm, he focusses on health and happiness to keep on growing…
What is it the company does?
Rosenbauer UK is a manufacturer of state-of-the-art firefighting vehicles and equipment, which are supplied to Fire and Rescue Services across the world.
Describe your role in no more than 100 words
As MD of Rosenbauer UK, no two days are the same and I oversee everything from sales to service.
It’s my job to ensure we’re steered in the right direction through our current phase of intensive growth, so I also dissect the figures on a weekly and monthly basis.
Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?
I joined the British Army at the ripe age of 17, into the Royal Engineers. After qualifying as an engineer, I took on other military niches in specialist diving and physical training instruction. After seven years, I turned down the opportunity to become commissioned at Sandhurst, and left to pursue a more corporate path in the ‘real world’.
I worked in numerous sales roles, moving up the ladder very quickly until I landed in the fire equipment industry, which is where I’ve been for twelve years now. After setting up my own firm North Fire in 2008, I then merged with my Austrian partners and global leaders — Rosenbauer International — in 2014. Since then, we have continued our surge in growth and innovation.
What do you believe makes a great leader?
I genuinely believe many aspects of true leadership come naturally to the world’s best leaders, particularly the essential criteria.
My colleagues and my customers are my main concern — both should be inspired with their personal involvement with the organisation in which I am leading. This inspiration should derive from the quality of the product, after sales care, ethics and reassurance. All of these things come organically when involved with a well-led organisation, yet poor leaders will cast organic doubt on all of the aforementioned.
What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?
Since the merge in 2014, my company is now part of a wider group, with a turnover of just short of €1 billion. Being part of a global organisation presents understandable bureaucracy, which is an absolute challenge.
Restrictions in trading and specifically targeted marketing are there to protect the integrity of the group on a global scale, but nonetheless provide hurdles when fighting against smaller companies. I do find ways around it, though.
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
A stressed MD will only ever cascade the negative feeling through the rest of the company, not to mention the customer too, so I don’t subscribe to it.
Instead, I keep myself happy and healthy, and always ensure I get eight hours sleep, whatever is going on at work. Watch the tide and not the waves, don’t panic… and smile! Enjoy what you’re doing or change what you’re doing.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a fighter pilot. Top Gun may have played a part in that. I’m a bit of a nervous flier if I’m brutally honest though, so I doubt I’d have been great!
Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?
I like polished shoes! I’m a bit of a stickler when it comes to presentation in general. If any one of our employees are in sight of a customer, in any context, then it’s important they look professional, as it is a pure reflection of the quality of work which we strive towards.
Where do you see the company in five years’ time?
I see us as clear leaders in the supply of firefighting technology to the UK’s excellent Fire and Rescue Services. Our products must not merely replace the truck or equipment in its place before it, but increase the operational effectiveness of a firefighter, tenfold.
We aim to be the number one preference for any firefighter using our products at the ‘sharp end’. Their approval of our product is key.
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
Don’t dip your toe in, but immerse yourself in your profession. Instead of a work-life balance, ensure your job fits into your life with two-way flexibility. You should be able answer an email out of work hours, like you should be able to do the school run from time to time, for example.
Treat your customer as King. Listen to, and act on their feedback. Take your head out of your personal social media whilst at work and be humble with everything. I would never call myself an entrepreneur, as I find the self-proclaimed entrepreneurs tarnish the very word itself.
What do you wish someone had told you when you started out?
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