Business Support

Ray McCreadie

What was your background before becoming an adviser and what industry experience do you have?

Ray McCreadie

I am a Cumbrian born & bred. I began my career in Carlisle serving an apprenticeship with Cowans Sheldon in heavy engineering and subsequently becoming Factory Manager. I then joined Cherifoam in Silloth, a supplier to the Motor Industry and was one of the first to introduce Lean Manufacturing processes into the UK.

I followed this with a move to British Aluminium Speciality Extrusions (Rio Tinto Alcan) in Lillyhall supplying parts for Airbus and led their journey to become the first supplier to gain the BAE Systems silver award for manufacturing excellence. 2006 found me working as Business Improvement Manager for Northern Foods, saving the business several millions of pounds by introducing practical lean applied procedures and increasing productivity by over a third. I particularly enjoyed leading the M&S ‘Field to Fork’ Value Stream Mapping Project, delivering £7.5m in savings. I am a Chartered Engineer, obtained a BSc (Hons) degree in Glasgow, an MBA with the Open University and a PGCE teaching degree at Huddersfield University. I am also a Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt.

Why did you become a business adviser?

I became a business adviser with the Chamber in June 2022. In the past I have been a manager, a mentor, and a coach. I have worked with so many varied organisations and I enjoy helping small businesses. I felt that I would like to give something back to the local area which have given me so much in the past.

Areas of specialism / interest

In 2012 I formed my own company trading as LEAN TeamGB. My aim is to ensure that my client organisations can deliver exceptional, auditable, and sustainable value. Throughout my career I have sought to develop people and my brief from the Chamber is all about helping to deliver a Workforce Development service for Cumbrian SMEs.

The role has six key outputs (1) assist companies develop their people skills plans (2) undertake training needs analysis exercises (3) engage with the Skillshub Cumbria and wider providers to source relevant training and development (4) bring together groups of businesses to share skills development programmes (5) engage with other providers to ensure they are aware of the skill gaps (6) support activities to raise awareness and understanding of the initiative.

What will you most enjoy about the role?

I really enjoy dealing with business issues. However, often the hardest part of the job is fully understanding what problem the client is trying to solve. An ideal solution may be articulated but the current state is rarely well defined and the journey plan to get there is seldom known. This is the exciting challenge I am faced with every time I take on a new client.

What type of businesses have you been able to support and what support did you offer?

I have worked with people just starting out, to multinationals. The types of businesses have ranged from micro companies growing herbs to professional partnerships supplying accountancy services to large national retailers of food and clothing. I have enjoyed developing a relationship with the people in those businesses, examining what they do and why. Working with them I have sought to help develop an “army of problem solvers” to overcome issues that are preventing the company achieve its strategic aims and operational objectives.

Three interesting facts about you

  • As a 16 year old apprentice engineer in a boiler suit I never imagined that I would enjoy so many and varied opportunities for training and employment that have taken me all over the world
  • I was once asked to leave Keswick because the aerials on my Lambretta scooter were a hazard to pedestrians on the narrow streets
  • I used to drive an orange minicar that had no heater on regular journeys over Beattock summit in the winter months when I attended University in Glasgow.