Andrew has been busy on interim assignments, working with engineering based companies around the world (and in the UK). Clients look for on tap experience, objectivity and a result. Interims are very much individuals. As an interim provider commented “This remit entailed a complex and unique back drop, challenging stakeholders and a complex turnaround situation”. The role required somebody who could survive, thrive and deliver. For more details see “A Complicated Situation”. That’s Andrew. If your have a situation (business, function, project) requiring absolute focus, multidisciplinary input, a mix of “been there before” and original thinking, then we should be talking!
Andrew has undertaken assignments for various subsidiaries of European groups including: Babcock, Beumer, Britax Rumbold, Brush, FKI, Gambro, Halma, Melrose, Senior, Uponor, Weir. Here’s an insight into some of the work Andrew has been involved in:
A NICE EMAIL TO GET
“A very belated thank you for all the hard work you did on the China project. All excellent work!”
Was an email to Andrew from a long-standing client (subsidiary of a FTSE100 industrial group). The email related to an interesting and unusual assignment in Shanghai. Lawyers predicted 9 to 10 months for a factory business licence (together with their expensive help!). In reality, a chopped business licence was achieved in about 12 weeks (no expensive lawyers, but a competent local partner). A factory project construction management contract was written, prequalified, tendered, negotiated and awarded for the factory development in Shanghai.
This builds on a widening range of China experiences. Andrew has delivered assignments in the China heartlands, setting up the first of type in production for incoming capital equipment technology. This involved organising tooling and operations process flow, training a workforce and directly managing the factory floor. In Hong Kong, Andrew managed delay recovery of a 25 week large and technical complex project, and was the last person off site having negotiated to close all commercial issues with all parties. On a recent short assignment back in Shanghai, Andrew got to the bottom of why dates were being missed on a business critical material handling project, putting in place and managing an expediting process. It’s all about persistence, never dropping the standard, attention to details, understanding the technical and commercial, acknowledging the culture, recognising when something is not working, and delivering value for money.
A COMPLICATED SITUATION
A complicated situation – commercially, technically, operationally for Andrew as the interim Managing Director! A near start-up company (with a FTSE 100 plc as a major shareholder), developing a number of technologies for subsea marine power generation. The business needed the technical entrepreneurial flair of the founders but it was also critical to maintain the confidence of the major shareholder (and others) as the business rapidly evolved, and for a near start up there were a surprising number of legacy issues.
A marine sector near start up business operating in a rapidly changing and technically demanding and yet to mature market is always going to be a handful to manage. In a small company, the role of the MD is to lead, support and cover what others can’t do, or might miss. Technically the company was strong but (inevitably as a small business) under resourced. Commercially there were issues. Contracts had to be rewritten and renegotiated and there were major insurance problems. Engineering development can be unpredictable consequently cash was always a problem – a failed deployment could destroy the balance sheet, and it nearly happened. Ultimately however, the business was successfully refinanced. Post script, the technology was completely proven and the business sold for a significant multiple of its original investment.
These situations demand a very clear focus, and the business quickly comes to expect it. Easy to say, but not so easy to do, day in and day out. For Andrew, having a diverse technical and commercial background ensured that decisions were based on logic. For a business, function or project the underlying approach is always the same.
A VERY TECHNICAL BUSINESS
“We need to know what could be in Korea for us, please write the brief and deliver it”.
This is a summary of a conversation with Andrew’s client, the technology division of a FTSE defence/ industrial managed services group. Not an easy brief, there is a very wide technological palate and yet very specific application within this business. In the marine sector the company already had Korean contracts in the oil and gas sector and for marine defence engineered systems. The task was to understand the realistic options (including what others with a technically complex offering had done/not done) and what would work for Andrew’s client. This was the fifth assignment for this client group over the last seven years.
After four intense weeks in Korea understanding the macro and the micro, it became clear that there was no one picture, but there were common themes (and contradictions). The key question was: How to create a profitable presence in such vertically integrated markets, and one which demands to own the technology? Some elements of Korean heavy industry are very highly developed, others hardly exist, and whilst in some engineering sectors Korea is a very well established exporter, in others it appears to be just starting. It’s important to understand the evolution. For a major (maybe the major) global marine constructor nation there should be a market for Andrew’s client. It is important to talk to people, listen, and separate opinions and facts. As with other assignments with a technology base this assignment required only a minimum learning curve for Andrew.
What matters in Korea is (in some respects) quite different to UK, it’s easy to misunderstand the Korean perspective, so important to check and recheck. Back in the UK, with a white paper written, a client walk through with a lot of interaction and “some very perceptive observations” documented, Andrew’s client is now pleased to be going through the process of what next?
AS GOOD AS MY LAST ASSIGNMENT?
Andrew’s assignments are all with companies underpinned by engineering or physical sciences and are increasingly global. The assignments vary from substantially technical, through operations to projects and general management. Interestingly, for different client groups Andrew delivers different scopes of interim assignment.
To name a few, Andrew has delivered commercial and business development for one UK plc, project management for a European company, substantially technically focused support for another UK plc, operations development assignment for a German company. First assignments often seem to define roles for that client; a technical assignment leads to another technical assignment. But not always – an operational/projects interim assignment changed into an interim managing director role, a technical product development assignment led to a factory management assignment, and a general management assignment led to a business development assignment.
The common themes for success are Andrew’s ability to quickly understand the detail and the bigger picture (technically, commercially, and operationally), develop a clear picture of what needs to be done. Then prioritise, set and meet deadlines and communicate. An interim manager is different to a career manager, the time scales are compressed with an end date, and an interim is only there for a one purpose, taking a situation from A to B. Andrew’s portfolio of interim assignment also include:
- Recovering production for a tier 2 aerospace equipment provider
- Managing and selling an acoustics equipment company
- Recovering service operations for a medical equipment company
- Managing a capital equipment company (based in Germany)
- Divisional management of a material handing company (based in Denmark)
- Defining and managing the technical recovery for a physics based company
- Factory closure (Germany) and production process relocation (to the UK)