Nine Twenty Industry Update: An Interview with Gerry Scullion

Nine Twenty Industry Update: An Interview with Gerry Scullion

Emma HartEngineering

Nine Twenty Engineering & Manufacturing Director, Karen Stewart, will be hosting regular online industry updates including hints & tips for candidates and clients across the Engineering & Manufacturing sector and beyond.


In this first edition, Karen had the opportunity to sit down and have a chat with Gerry Scullion of Pinion Project Management Limited.  Gerry has over 25 years of experience in Project Management and has provided support to Consultancies, Sales, Marketing, NPD and Production teams responsible for managing leading brands.  Karen was keen to pick Gerry’s brains over what advice he could give to those about to embark on their next project.



1. What is it you do/specialise in?

I’m a Project Manager who specialises in identifying, mitigating and managing business risks associated with capital spending and I’m currently supporting food and drink industry clients.  I typically lead, manage and/or support clients’ projects from initial concept through to completion and, where required, I design and deliver highly customised project management processes and training to suit the needs of individual organisations.


2. What projects are you most proud of and why?

For me it’s more about job satisfaction; especially when leading changes which have resulted in the development of individuals and teams and where organisations have rapidly progressed from being behind their competitors in key areas to overtaking them.   My first experience of this effect was in the early nineties when I led a programme of projects which saw United Distillers (now Diageo) emerge as a clear industry leader in developing flexible, but efficient, production lines with colour-coded, lightweight quick-release change parts and fully automatic on-line application of discreet security tags.  A more recent example would be developing the extensive project management processes, documentation and support which enabled the Finsbury Food Group’s Hamilton site to progress from mostly manual packing operations to becoming an industry leader in high capacity robotic pick and place packing of branded cake slices and cake bites in a wide variety of formats.


3. Can you describe three important considerations that organisations typically miss when initiating an important project?

The first important consideration which is often missed is the organisation culture.  I can show why some projects are unlikely to be a good strategic fit for your organisational culture/climate and how these costly “misfits” can give a reduced return on investment. 

The second important consideration is the existing reporting structure.  For example, senior managers often see hierarchical reporting structures as an advantage when it comes to approving and controlling project costs, but such structures restrict the free sharing of accurate information required to successfully manage change. I typically begin by showing clients how we can overcome these structural constraints without threatening the existing organisational structure and associated roles, responsibilities, policies and procedures. 

The third important consideration is initiating and developing a comprehensive business risk assessment.  Organisations often progress projects based on what they already know without scrutinising their assumptions and considering that “we don’t know what we don’t know”.   I initiate and lead comprehensive business risks assessment to help identify key things we don’t know and what’s required to make more informed project decisions.


4. What advice would you give to someone who was about to embark on a large scale project?

If, on a large scale project, you don't identify, mitigate and manage at least 100 business risks to fully define the design and scope of your project and identify and rank all your stakeholders’ needs, your project is likely to be a failure in the eyes of key stakeholders.


5. What do you mean when you say that "projects should be aligned to business strategies"?

To avoid strategic drift, misfits and reduced return on investment, capital and CI projects should be optimally aligned to your overarching and local business strategies whether these strategies are explicit or implicit.   Optimising strategic alignment requires knowledge of key links between business strategies, organisational behaviours, culture, brands, values and employee motivation.  Based on research and experience, I can help clients ensure that capital spending plans are a good strategic fit in the critical design and planning stages and help clients optimise their return on investment following the implementation stages.


If you want to find out more about the services that Pinion Project Management Limited can offer your business, you can contact Gerry via his website

If you are interested in discussing either hosting an industry specific seminar or sharing your knowledge and experience in a similar way to this blog, contact Karen Stewart on or call the office directly on + (141) 231 1260.

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