012 The Bath Perspective healthy degree of gallows humour, as is the way in South Wales. People are working hard, 30 hours sometimes 50 hours; people are prepared to put in the time and not for a financial stake in the business but because they have an emotional stake in it - many were apprentices here and they’ve worked here their entire careers. They share our vision for the long-term.” Developing for tomorrow “I am open about the company’s financial performance and plans; the team see me being committed to the future and saying thanks for their efforts. We are a very growthorientated company and I see our greatest challenge for the future as coping with that growth. I know that people and technology will be the answer; you get out what you invest in people so we are still investing in training. My Financial Director tuts and mutters but I am committed to it. The Welsh Assembly has selected us as a pioneer in a major training programme – PROACT – aimed at supporting manufacturing in Wales. It was a vote of confidence by the Assembly in Nidum and Magor, and it is all about developing for tomorrow.” Advice for others starting their own business “I’ve been managing my own business now for two years and it’s very fulfilling – I enjoy the engagement with all elements of business, the immediacy of making things happen. If I were advising others setting out on the path of running their own business, I’d say: do your research well; be honest with yourself about your skills and limitations; be realistic with your business plan and action plans; have a clear view of what your objectives are; be clear about what you and your family want out of it - not just in fiscal terms but in quality of life, work-life balance, terms. Be prepared to work very hard. I am working harder now than in corporate life, even though it is very different – I’m not catching the ‘red eye’ to Brussels but I’m certainly doing the hours and you’ve got to be willing to pitch in with everything - be it taking the tea towels home to clean or negotiating with customers. I have no regrets, I just wish I’d done it a long time ago but I know I didn’t have enough wool on my back then so it was right to wait. I knew from my corporate career that I have a flair for developing businesses; I like making a difference and I’ve been successful. Doing our own thing makes this a good place to be.” Three formative elements at Bath: Placement I got to see the real world, and got practical experience. I could put the theory I had learned into practice. This added to my teenage years’ experience of my father’s steel founding business. Exposure to a group of exceptional and talented people There were many characters who graduated in 1982 who have gone on to be very successful people. For a country lad from North Yorkshire, mixing with them was very educational. It was clear then that these were people who were going to be successful. Academic side I had the opportunity to soak up the breadth of knowledge of business from the academics who taught us.