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30th March 2012 | News

What was your first job?

In 1985 after leaving school/at the age of 17, I joined the army as a vehicle mechanic. During my 22 years in the forces I worked in locations around the World. I worked in a variety of roles ranging from commando forces to career management but always returned to engineering management, which is where I first learned about quality management and the EFQM model.

In the last five years of my career I became heavily involved in Lean and Six Sigma and played a key role in implementing these within the military.

At the end of my service in the Army I was awarded an MBE in recognition of this and also my work in developing young leaders.

How did you get your current role?

In 2007 I returned to civilian life after being headhunted by AMEC for a role as Performance Manager on a large maintenance contract. The contract was with SABIC - I was seconded here and have been here ever since. I am now responsible for performance management across the whole organisation.

Describe your role within the organization?

I work with the operating teams to find efficiencies in the way they manufacture products and deliver services. My role is to drive improvement and pass on improvement methodologies. Effectively I provide the extra horsepower and knowledge - pushing forward change management programmes and improvement initiatives that can?t be delivered by the line management.

What gives you a sense of achievement?

Seeing people change after they have told me they didn't believe they could do it. The secret is to engage with people and inspire them to change.

What is the best thing about being a quality manager?

I have the autonomy to do my job as I see fit ? I am measured on output in terms of the improvements I bring about. Also there is a lot of variety and I never get bogged down doing repetitive tasks.

And the worst?

There are always more things that need doing than time to do them.

What moments stand out in your career?

Standing in a field and receiving my green beret, having just completed my commando training by running 30 miles. Becoming a commando was the greatest sense of achievement I have ever experienced. Another landmark was visiting Buckingham Palace with my wife in 2007 to collect my MBE.

More recently, winning the support of some great managers has been the biggest inspiration for me. I didn't expect to find strong leaders outside of the military but I have been pleasantly surprised by the quality of leadership in industry.

What are the biggest challenges facing quality managers?

Within any organisation, there is so much change going on - particularly during an economic downturn - that there is always too much to do. The real challenge is to identify and make clear the most important things that need doing at any one time.

What's your motto at work?

Do something different - it you keep doing the same thing, you will get the same results.

What advice would you give to someone new to the role?

Work on your communication skills - without these, you will not be able to inspire and engage the people around you. Don't be bound by any one particular improvement method - anything that is useful and fits the bill is equally valid.