Cumbrian business leaders are now armed with the vision and the skills to pursue smarter manufacturing after completing Made Smarter’s innovative leadership programme.
Robert Webb, at Forth Engineering based in Barrow, and James Swindlehurst, at Primasonics in Penrith, are among 10 from the North West who are the first to graduate an innovate programme run in collaboration with Lancaster University Management School (LUMS) and Made Smarter, the industry and government partnership driving manufacturing productivity and growth through digital technology.
The 8-month programme involved a mixture of workshops, site-visits to other manufacturers, including Veka, Hosokawa Micron and Senator, who are already on the journey of adopting digital technology, and special project sprints – delivered by Siemens Digital Industries – to test new ideas.
I acquired a new set of leadership skills which has really helped my development. It has been academically challenging, but the course has embedded a desire to learn more.
Delegates unanimously agreed that the programme had given them the impetus to take vital time away from the business to develop the strategic view to support the adoption of hi-tech and digitally-based manufacturing techniques into their own production processes and taught them how to successfully bring employees and other stakeholders along on their digital transformation journey.
Robert Webb, Innovation Programme Manager at Forth Engineering, an engineering specialist working in the nuclear and oil and gas sectors, said: “What has impressed me most is the level of collaboration and openness among both the cohort and the businesses we visited during the programme.
“The life as an SME can be lonely. When you sit in a room with other business leaders, regardless of their size, you realise they are facing the same issues and looking at the same technology to solve their problems. It has been interesting how digitalisation umbrellas across all business. It doesn’t matter if you are involved in making horse harnesses or robotics, we all face the same issues.
“From a business perspective Forth is now developing a plan to integrate its systems which will have a monumental impact on levels of efficiency.
“From a personal perspective I acquired a new set of leadership skills which has really helped my development. It has been academically challenging, but the course has embedded a desire to learn more.
“As well as connecting businesses from different sectors in the North West, this programme has helped me realise that manufacturing SMEs have an important role in the bigger picture, UK plc, which is at the vanguard of the cutting and bleeding edge of digitalisation on the global stage.
“Digitalisation is omnipresent and should be the focus for all manufacturers. Changes don’t have to be large and disruptive. There are easy wins to be achieved. This programme is the perfect place to start.”
The programme kicked off with a two-day residential to enable the cohort to get to know each another and introduced the principles behind responsible leadership and what this means to their business.
Over the course of the eight months delegates attended six workshops led by both academics delivering leading edge thinking and business practitioners demonstrating adoption in real business settings.
This pioneering group of leaders have been able to create a digitalisation strategy to explore how technology can improve business performance, as well as develop the leadership skills needed to manage operational change and employee expectations.
The workshops topics included: setting the strategic context; stakeholder engagement; audit processes; performance management; scoping and leading change; and implementing change.
During the programme, delegates attended three site visits and workshops with manufacturers who have already adopted new technologies.
Through the programme delegates would also embark on ‘sprints’ where they would test their ideas with another delegates’ business to build engagement and learning from each other.
Donna Edwards, Director of the North West Made Smarter pilot, said: “I’m delighted that the Made Smarter Leadership programme has made such a positive impact on the first cohort of business leaders in the North West.
“It has given leaders crucial time out of their business to reflect on the bigger picture and share ideas and experiences alongside their peers in manufacturing. They have been taught about the wide-ranging digital tools available to them and the potential impact they can have on their business’s growth and competitiveness.
“This pioneering group of leaders have been able to create a digitalisation strategy to explore how technology can improve business performance, as well as develop the leadership skills needed to manage operational change and employee expectations.”
The feedback from the first cohort of the Made Smarter leadership programme has been incredibly positive, re-enforcing Lancaster’s outstanding reputation for devising and delivering world-class business leadership development.
Professor Angus Laing, Dean of Lancaster University Management School, said: “The feedback from the first cohort of the Made Smarter leadership programme has been incredibly positive, re-enforcing Lancaster’s outstanding reputation for devising and delivering world-class business leadership development.
“Via a mixture of workshops delivered by academics and experts in the digitalisation and leadership, and site visits to companies, including Veka, Hosokawa Micron and Senator, where delegates were able to see advanced technology in practice, participants have been empowered to transform their individual businesses.”
Registration for the next Leadership Programme is now open. Applicants have until January 29th to apply ahead of induction on February 25th.
About Made Smarter
Made Smarter is the UK national industrial digitalisation movement to drive productivity and growth of manufacturing industries and put the UK at the forefront of the 4th Industrial Revolution. Backed by world-renowned businesses and working in partnership with the UK government, Made Smarter will make a real, everyday difference to people from the boardroom to the factory floor.
The Made North West pilot connects makers to the digital tools that will make an everyday difference to their business. The £20 million partnership between government and industry will provide match-funding, specialist advice, student placements and leadership training. Helping up to 3,000 small and medium-sized businesses – and the people in them – keep their competitive edge. And adding up to £115 million to the region’s economy. For more information, visit www.madesmarter.uk