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Politicians, Olympic Rowers and some digitisation for good measure!

Last month saw the return of the National Manufacturing Conference run by Make UK, formally the EEF and it didn't disappoint. Having missed the event last year, it was great to be back and experience some fantastic speakers, inspiring workshops and a chance to chat to likeminded engineers.

The Speakers

Historically Make UK have put together a great line up for their annual conference and this year was no different. The political speakers, Rt Hon Greg Clark and Rt Hon Jeremy Corbyn MP gave a good insight into their parties take on Brexit and the current challenges with manufacturing although at one point there were almost as many journalists as attendees. Given the recent news it was no surprise! The highlight of the speakers for me was Katherine Grainger, who talked about her successes as an Olympian and how her career has changed since retirement. I find these types of speakers to be really inspiring, hearing their story to success, it gets the creative brain power going!

The Workshops

There were sessions set aside for a number of different workshops that focused on key topics related to current manufacturing challenges. I chose to attend one related to digitisation, a buzz word that reflects what Argenta has been involved in for many years, and one on leadership, something I personally get great pleasure out of, but always want to improve on these skills.

The digitisation workshop focused on a panel of four companies talking about how they had addressed digitisation within their businesses. It was great to hear what they had achieved, in particular from William Bridgman of Warren Services. He spoke about how digitisation shouldn't be forced, but instead you should look at where in your business it might give you efficiency or financial benefits and making small steps, not doing it because it's the current trend. One example at Warren Services was that a number of years ago they had a hoard of accounting paperwork taking up space in their building and making it challenging to recall data. Moving this into a digital platform gave them huge benefits as you can imagine.

The leadership workshop was again panel based and each panellist shared their experiences of how leadership had helped them succeed within their business. As an avid rugby fan and "player" I was drawn to ex professional player Will Fraser from The Saracens Way. He spoke about the transformation of Saracens Rugby Club and how the leadership and team had changed over the years to enable their success. Values and behaviours was a big part of this, which has always been a difficult element of business leadership for me to get my head around in terms of how to share them with the team and build the business around them. They have always seemed quite fluffy and intangible, but at the same time I can see that getting this right will result in significant benefits. One question that I left the conference asking was, how do you know you're doing well at leadership? I'm going to explore this more in the coming months.

Wrap Up

At the end of the conference Make UK very kindly put out some ice buckets full of beers and other drinks, it would have been rude not to stay for one! This gave me a chance to catch up with other attendees, hear their take on the conference and discuss our challenges in manufacturing projects. This is always interesting, it's great to hear what others are doing and relate that to Argenta. The biggest benefit I felt from attending the Make UK conference was the chance to get out of the day to day running of Argenta, lto earn and absorb from leaders in a field we have a great deal of experience in, but which is ever changing.

Thanks Make UK, see you next year!


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