What was your first break in business?
I began my career at 16 as an apprentice at CA Parsons, where the training was excellent. Being part of that programme set the foundations for my career but my big break came years later when I became the managing director of that business. At the time, we manufactured and serviced power stations around the world and I developed a plan to diversify the business into a flexible service facility for the energy industry – something which continues to be the operational model for the site today.
What did you want to be growing up?
I didn’t have a clear idea of what I wanted from a career, other than something related to engineering. I had a few offers of apprenticeships but chose CA Parsons as they had a great reputation for training and career progression. In those early years during my apprenticeship, I gained invaluable hands-on experience of both working in a big organisation and supporting different customers. It was that experience that inspired me to progress into a leadership position.
What attracted you to your current role?
I’m at the helm of one of the biggest divisions at Siemens plc. The energy businesses have a huge portfolio which includes manufacturing various sized gas turbines and building and servicing power stations, so our customers can continue to operate efficiently and reliably. It’s a very broad and diverse business and an exciting time for the energy market.
What is your company’s mission?
Our mission is to electrify, automate and digitalise and we have a new brand: Ingenuity for Life. This is about bringing our products to life and showing how they contribute to society. For example, the team in Newcastle support and service power stations in Iraq, which ultimately helps keep the lights on in a country where a stable energy supply is essential for regeneration.
How do you get the best out of your team?
I get the best out of my team by delegating responsibility, giving the autonomy to make decisions and by really listening to people. Being responsible for a large division means I can’t be an expert in everything; I’ve learnt to trust the expertise and opinions of the people around me. More generally, I treat everyone as I would expect to be treated, which helps build mutual respect – essential in any business relationship.
What has been your career highlight?
I’m passionate about the training and development of young talent so was proud to be a key player in establishing the National Training Academy for Rail (NTAR), a modern facility which uses virtual and augmented reality to train the next generation of rail engineers.
What has been your biggest challenge?
The businesses I’ve been involved in have many big challenges, whether that be securing work, sustaining production or delivering complex projects. When I was leading the Siemens rail business we won a high profile contract for EuroStar. The decision prompted an international political reaction and I was called upon to defend the contract win in the High Court. It was a challenging experience but one where I learnt a huge amount about government affairs. Having just started a new role, my current challenge is to immerse myself in the business and re-connect with the North East business community.
Who or what inspires you?
It often amazes and inspires me when I hear about some of the products, services and capabilities we have within this company, as well as the great stories about people in the organisation. There are also many people who have inspired me personally. They tend to be leaders with a very clear goal and the ability to articulate their vision in a simple way.
What are your organisation’s short and long-term goals?
Safety is always first and foremost at Siemens. We work in lots of different environments, but keeping our people safe is always the number one goal. Digitalisation is our key long-term goal; we want to increase our digital and software portfolio by focusing on skills, making our services and products smarter, and looking at how we can support our customers with smart data, analytics and increased productivity.
How do you achieve a good work/life balance?
A good work/life balance has been a challenge for me in recent years but now I’m back in the North East I’m making this a priority and starting a few new hobbies. In fact, I was given some golf lessons for Christmas! As a company, we’re doing a lot of work on employee health and well-being. After all, our people are our most important asset.