How did you begin your career with Kingspan?
I started with AWIP in the US in 2011 after graduating and was lucky to be taken on in a senior finance role right from the start, reporting to the CFO. Eleven months later he retired, and I stepped into that role. It was a growing company, and the founders, who were also my mentors in those early days, showed great confidence in trusting me to manage such a significant job when I was still so young. I never doubted whether I could do something, only how I could, and I quickly learned that it is about focus and having the right team around you.
The acquisition of AWIP by Kingspan Group in 2015 only opened more doors, both personally and professionally. It showed me a whole new world of leadership. About 2 years after the acquisition, I had the opportunity to expand my role and step-in as CFO for our newly acquired businesses in Latin America. No sooner had I got things in place with this role than the CEO of AWIP, where I had started my career journey, decided to retire, and I was invited to succeed him. Opportunities come faster than you think at Kingspan, and you just have to dive in and take them.
Describe a typical day in your current role?
As President for AWIP, I have responsibility for the entire division. Each year our team develops a strategic plan. My primary role on a day to day basis is to drive the vision for that plan and execute it with the support of my team, facilitating others to make the plan become a reality. At a granular level, I am on the phone or an airplane for a good part of my time, developing relationships, hearing feedback, dealing with any issues, looking at what needs to happen next, what actions we need to take to keep in line with our goals. It’s a bit like driving a car – you know what your final destination is, but you need a road map to make sure you get there, and to address any roadblocks along the way!
I touch base with all of the different departments, and I travel a lot. AWIP is a very customer-centric business, so meeting face to face with all of our key customers has been critical to understanding their perspective and what they really need from us – this provides the core direction for our strategic plan. We really take customer feedback to heart, it’s what helps to keep us on track.
I also visit our factories and talk to people on the shop floor to understand how things look from their perspective and what we need to do to get the best from our employees. What comes across is how much everybody I talk to cares about what we are doing. We’re not perfect, sometimes things go wrong, the important thing is to take ownership of that and deal with it.
What has been your career highlight to-date?
One of the things I love most about my work is building up the team, it’s my job to make them successful, and that’s where I get my greatest satisfaction - seeing the people and businesses that I work with continuing to flourish, seeing them improve. One of the things that was a real highlight for me was the moment I became a mentor, being able to offer advice and support to enable others to grow. It’s all about relationships, and I am proud of what we have developed here and the positive impact I see that we are having in so many different ways.
What inspires you about Kingspan’s future impact in the industry?
Kingspan is going to continue to lead from an environmental standpoint – not just in the construction sector but showing the way for other industries too. It is no small feat, conducting a successful global business whilst helping the environment in a meaningful way not only from our own operations but with energy efficient solutions to the market.
I love the diversity I have found in Kingspan, and this is one of our core strengths. We can draw on the best talent and expertise from a pot of 70 different countries, and everybody is treated with the same respect, no matter where you are from. You could be in any one of those 70 countries across the world, with all those different cultures, but we have one common mission, common ground from which people can develop and grow.
On the environmental side, even before the current Planet Passionate programme, Kingspan’s approach aligned with everything I valued and had been thinking about my whole career – the wellbeing of both people and the planet.
One of the things that impressed me most from the outset was the way we were treated throughout the acquisition process. Often, when a business is acquired the takeover can feel very hostile. Kingspan was quite the opposite - we felt valued and supported. Far from jobs being lost, people were given opportunities to develop, and were encouraged to carry on doing the great work that had made the company a good proposition to buy in the first place. I witnessed this same approach in subsequent acquisitions. This is one of the things that makes Kingspan a business leader – acquisitions happen based on core strengths and synergies, then expand from there.
What words would sum up Kingspan’s culture to someone considering joining?
- Honesty and integrity,
- Courage, innovation and teamwork