Q: What is your background?
After leaving university I spent seven years in the British Army as a commissioned officer and then joined the steel industry 29 years ago. My first years were spent in commercial and general management roles in the UK, Turkey and the Czech Republic, supplying a wide range of steel products to many different market sectors. More recently I managed a steel service centre supplying the metal packaging industry in Europe and my last steel job was managing two electroplating steel works in the USA.
I originally graduated with a bachelor’s degree in law from Cambridge University followed later with Master’s degrees in Business Administration from Warwick University and Printing and Coating Technology from Swansea University.
Q: How did you get into the metal packaging industry?
I joined Afon Tinplate, a tin plate steel service/printing and coating operation based in South Wales, as managing director in 1998 and spent 11 years in that role. During that time I was an active participant in the MPMA and rose through the ranks as treasurer and vice chairman to become the association’s chairman. When the role of director and CEO of the MPMA was offered to me I jumped at the opportunity to get back into the industry.
Q: What did you learn from your time as general manager of Tata Steel and CEO of Thomas Steep Strip Corp and Apollo Metals?
The companies I managed in the US supplied global alkaline battery manufacturers such as Procter and Gamble (Duracell brand), Energizer and Spectrum Holdings (Rayovac and Varta brands). They were global players with the ability to quickly change both raw material suppliers and manufacturing location. Success in that environment was only possible through a constant and relentless focus on product quality, cost and outstanding delivery and service performance: you needed a highly motivated and talented team in order to meet customers’ demands and expectations.
Q: How has the industry changed since your first joined 17 years ago?
My initial observation is that there remains an ever-increasing consumer demand for convenience and value supported by a supply chain dependent upon efficiency and reliability – but it is early days! Our sector continues to consolidate both regionally and globally and I see no sign of that trend changing.
Sustainability and environmental concerns have inevitably come to the fore with consumers, brand owners and regulators, as witnessed by the proposed EU Circular Economy Package. I feel fortunate that we operate with a material which exemplifies this thinking; metal can be and is recycled an infinite number of times with no loss of quality -the ultimate permanent material.
Q: What are the most looking forward to in your new role?
The UK packaging industry is a world leader – dynamic, successful and innovative and I am looking forward to working with highly talented and professional people who are also great fun to work with.
Q: What will be the biggest challenge you will face initially?
My initial challenge is to get up to date with the important current industry issues and to get reacquainted with the association’s members. I am fortunate that my predecessor, Nick Mullen, has handed over an organisation which is in great shape.
Q: Where do you see the industry developing over the next five years?
I see our industry continuing to rise to the challenge posed by consumers, brands and retailers for ever more convenient packaging with innovative features. With a rich history, we are still introducing internationally acclaimed innovations and will continue to do so. We will develop a greater recognition and understanding of how metal responds to the sustainability and waste debates and demonstrate why metal packaging will be around in another 200 years.
Q: When not working what do you do to unwind?
My wife and I live in the western edge of British rural Herefordshire in an area of outstanding natural beauty and we spend most of our free time enjoying the countryside. I also attempt to play golf!