A top-to-bottom transformation of working practices is taking place at a Bristol-based engineering firm after the company head took part in Bath’s Productivity through People programme.
Sarah Rodgerson recently completed the year-long programme that seeks to develop the next generation of business leaders in the UK.
After carving out a career in marketing, Sarah was brought in to lead BIE Magnum in 2016. “I had lots of experience managing people and teams, but I had never run a business and had no background in engineering,” she recalls. “The company had done things the same way for many years and I was finding it difficult to initiate change."
What good looks like
“Productivity through People has given me a clear picture of what good looks like and helped me make a plan to get there.”
Thanks to her involvement in the programme, Sarah was able to develop a new strategy and business plan for the firm’s future growth.
Specific changes she put in place as a direct result include a new performance management and bonus scheme, a stronger commitment to training for all staff, and new communication channels to drive employee engagement. She also implemented wide-ranging improvements to shop-floor processes such as better visual aids.
Learning from world-class
Some of these changes were inspired by the visits to world-class organisations that are a key part of Productivity through People. “Finding out how top organisations are doing things was hugely valuable,” says Sarah.
“We saw how the NHS is tackling its challenges with radical innovations. We got to experience the Rolls-Royce quality and operations system at first hand. We learned from Babcock about the importance of close dialogue with customers.”
Like all participants on the programme, Sarah benefited from the support of a mentor throughout. Seasoned growth strategist Bryan Sergeant helped her develop a plan to drive sales, productivity and profit. Sarah says: “Bryan took such an interest in helping me build my leadership capability and target our investment to maximise success.”
Most of all, Sarah appreciated the connections made with her peers. “I got to work alongside managers from sectors as diverse as food production, heavy industry and tourism,” she comments.
“We had frank discussions about our challenges and learning – this was incredibly helpful. In the action learning sets, we shared live issues and were able to develop action plans to implement right away."
“We’ve formed a real network that I’m sure will last.”
Indeed, so pleased was Sarah with her experience on Productivity through People that she immediately enrolled three members of her management team.