Our Engineering & Manufacturing Director, Karen Stewart, continues her weekly industry updates this time featuring Brian Banks of Marine Harvest.
Nine Twenty are currently recruiting a number of vacancies for Marine Harvest and Brian was on hand to give an insight into his experience of the company and to tell us why you might want to consider a career alongside him…
You are new into the Head of Engineering role at Marine Harvest, what attracted you to the business?
I was attracted to Marine Harvest for several reasons. First, there was an environmental attraction. Our planet’s health and the environment legacy that we leave behind are becoming increasingly important to all of us and it was obvious to me that Marine Harvest produces a sustainable and environmentally friendly product. By pure good fortune, that product has a strong cultural grounding in Scotland and creates a lot of much needed jobs in my local area. Second, there was a job-security attraction. I believe that Marine Harvest has a great future as a business. This is especially clear when you consider that only 2% of the world’s protein is currently sourced from the ocean and our population (and hence demand for food) is growing rapidly.
Finally, there was a fantastic professional challenge on offer. The Marine Harvest facility at Rosyth has only been up and running for a couple of years and the engineering support infrastructure has an improvement journey ahead of it. There hasn’t been enough time for a true engineering identity or culture to develop, and many of the basic engineering support functions would benefit from a clear and well-articulated improvement strategy. This means that the role offers what is essentially a “blank canvass”. Put simply, I am looking at a golden opportunity to build a great team and to make sure that we deliver the best engineering support possible.
What are your plans for the Engineering Department at Marine Harvest?
I’m planning some fairly significant changes if I’m being honest. I can’t go into too much detail right now because I haven’t involved my team in finalising my vision at this point, however I think building a team that is proud of what it does and delivers the best possible service to our customers are clear initial targets for us. There’s been a fair amount of early churn in the department as the cultural identity of the engineers has not had a chance to embed, so I think training and developing the team, bringing in strong leadership and introducing clearly understood development plans are some key early targets. Of course, my improvement plans don’t just cover people, they include plant and processes, so the entirety of engineering support can expect to see change, followed by a clear rolling improvement strategy.
We are looking for various people for your team including Maintenance Engineers, Area Managers and a Facilities Manager, what type of person is likely to succeed in your team and the environment?
I’m all about teamwork. A good team makes work an enjoyable place to be and is naturally more productive. This is because team players go out of their way to help one another and people around them. In terms of personal characteristics, I really value self-starters who stand up and be counted, rather than waiting for things to happen around them. I believe strongly that skills can be trained, but attitudes and behaviours need to be naturally embedded in the individual. This is why attitude and behaviour will always be the most valuable traits for me. Come to an interview and demonstrate a genuine willingness to join in and an excitement for engineering and you’ll hook me.
The MH working environment is dynamic, fast paced and often really demanding. This means people can sometimes find themselves under a bit of pressure to deliver, so my team needs to be able to rise above immediate concerns and be professional enough to ask themselves “What can I do to make my customer’s life easier?” It’s all about mind-set really.
What opportunities are there for further career development within the business?
This comes back to the “blank canvas” comment I made earlier. I’m making a conscious effort to design an organisational structure that has defined responsibilities and career progression built in. The new apprentice levy means that all businesses will be contributing to the costs of apprentices, so the more savvy businesses will factor professional development and career progression into their structures and strategy. I see no point in building a department where people are stuck in their jobs, because in the right environment, people grow and become hungry for more.
There’s a selfish element to this as well - I want to know who my replacement is going to be and how I can mentor or train this individual to take the reins. There will be growth and development opportunities aplenty for those with the appetite, capability and self determination to take them. My early vision for the department already includes a statement of how everyone will progress from one role to the next, but I certainly won’t be holding people’s hands or forcing anyone!
And finally, can you describe your passions as a head of Engineering and as a member of the site Leadership team?
I’ve been in engineering for over 35 years and I absolutely love working in this environment. I started my career as an apprentice and spent another ten years on the tools as a technician before moving into engineering management. Twenty years later I have become a Chartered Engineer with a Master’s degree and I take huge pride in the fact that every single stage of my development since I became a technician was self-funded and self-driven. I think that’s why I value genuine self-starters so highly – for those with a passion for the work, engineering offers fantastic rewards.
Here at Marine Harvest we are starting an engineering journey that will create a really useful career platform for the right people. I’ve always said that my motivations are team building and improvement, and if I could reverse my career 45 years, this is exactly the type of environment I would like to find myself in. It’s going to be a rollercoaster ride, with its fair share of uphill slogs, but it’s definitely going somewhere and it’s definitely going to be exciting!
Does this sound like a company that could match your career ambitions? Get in touch for more information or send your CV across to Karen today on email@example.com