Is it ‘Business As Usual’ for the UK’s Manufacturing Sector?

Published: 5 April 2012

The manufacturing world has seen a huge amount of change in recent times, with the global downturn in 2008 as the latest, and one of the most significant chapters, in this continually evolving story. As the broad manufacturing base of the UK adjusts to the economic situation as it is today, many organisations have begun to ask how should their business look to thrive, not just survive, in the future?

For some, in especially traditional manufacturing sectors, the outcome has been to evolve from ‘business as usual’ by adopting more modern techniques from other sectors. For instance, this has been the case from an operational standpoint for some industrial manufacturers who have looked at the FMCG manufacturing sector to understand how they can mirror their ‘typically’ superior customer service performance.

This has led these organisations to target specific experts from the FMCG market, to bring their supply chain knowledge or manufacturing and production expertise to bear. This in turn has had a secondary benefit of livening up the ‘gene pool’ of an organisation’s leadership team where they typically might have looked within their own sector for their people.

The challenge for these employers has been how to attract individuals who have operated in faster paced environments. On the face of it this could appear a daunting task, but in practice it may not be the case. The opportunity to step outside of a large blue-chip brand and take on a more visible and strategic challenge has great appeal for those who are looking for the next step-up in their careers - but only if the role has real autonomy and the appetite for change is present at the highest level. Importantly, the Board needs to back its words and drive through the change it is saying it needs – otherwise it really is ‘business as usual’ and it becomes more about surviving than thriving.

Jonathan Burke; a Principal Consultant within the Energy, Manufacturing & Infrastructure Practice of Berwick Partners.

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