I started my engineering career in 1971 with ICI and did my advanced education in Chemicals, Process, Automation, problem solving via them, I started ITS in 1991 with a partner, but he left in 2001 – so let’s say 50+ years and leave it at that.
What are some of your driving values?
What drives me personally is ‘problem solving’ – that is what lights my fire. I like finding solutions for people with complex problems, they might be just logistically complex, getting different elements to work together they might be technically difficult, making things happen that normally don’t or wouldn’t without some additional impetus. I also like encouraging people to do more than they think they can. I see people limit themselves ‘oh I can’t do that’ and I think ‘oh bet you could if you tried’ and then encouraging them to have a go.
You’ve always been great at giving back, why is it important to you?
I feel that I am lucky – I’m lucky to have a roof over my head, I’m lucky that my childhood was happy – not rich, not well off, but I recall most of my life thinking – that was pretty good really. My mum and dad worked hard to make sure we had what we needed, we didn’t have too much, but always had enough, And now I have my kids & step kids and they are all caring people, they think about others and that makes me proud of them too, and I work with a great bunch of people who again show me in various ways that they care about others and want to help too.
Which causes are closest to your heart / one thing about society in the UK that you wish you could change?
Caring about others. We saw during Covid how people when put on the spot are inherently good, caring, and taking my ‘I’m lucky’ element I feel we all have a duty to do what we can.
Close to my heart obviously Rough Sleeping is one, I sheepishly can say that “I slept rough as a teenager!” I say ‘sheepishly’ because it was only for about 2 months as a 17 year old, and surprisingly perhaps ‘not for me’? that is, I didn’t need to sleep rough, I had loving parents and a warm bed, but a friend did not. He had a rough time at home so he slept out at the weekend when not going to work next day, and I slept out with him for that time. He then got his own place and problem sorted. But from that, I know a lot of people do not chose the sleep tough – they have no choice so that’s why this means something to me. And I have never told anybody that – even my parents, who though I was sleeping at his parents place.!
What would I change? People’s intolerance to others – to many preconceived ideas about why people do what they do – not just homelessness, but in life – why did they overtake me like that? Because their child might be ill – you don’t know – don’t judge.
The situation is terrible and getting worse - when it should be getting better as we know this is something that could be solved.
How did you get involved in the CEO Sleepout?
I was approached by Dave Allen initially, Dave asked if I was interested in taking part and I said I’d think about it, then Bianca contacted me and I listened to what CEO Sleepout was about and trying to do and then I met Andy Preston who started all this and I thought – yeah, why not, I know people who’ve suffered that? Let’s see if I can raise some money for them. and laying there the first time, on the ground, with the snow falling gently I thought ‘why the hell am I doing this!?’ but the rest as they say is history. And now I am a proud Ambassador for CEO Sleepout in Middlesbrough
What other ways do you "give back" or work to strengthen communities you work within?
both from an ITS business and a personal point of view, I / we sponsor Teesside Hospice where I am an Ambassador and The Teesside Charity Infant Hercules club, we work with York Uni on their Children Challenging Industry (CCI) initiative trying to get kids interested in engineering as a career, we’re a sponsor of Darlington Mowden Park Rugby club and sponsor some of the players, we sponsor a couple of players for the girls football team at Thornaby Football Club and a couple more from Stockton and Norton Ancients. There are others, my daughter and I each do “a table at Christmas for Crisis” for the last 5 years, Dogs Trust, you name it, she gets me suckered in, and as we all know – there is no shortage of deserving local charity organisations waiting in the wings! But, it is not just me – at ITS we have someone who is a Blood Bike Rider, people who volunteer at the hospice, people dedicated to the CCI work we do.
Name one thing you'd like people to know about your life and work:
I’m lucky – and yes, the harder I work the luckier I get – but I am immensely privileged – in my life, wife, kids, brothers, sisters, family and friends and in my work – I am related to, know and work with some amazing people and I am humbled by the fact that they think I am worth anything at all really – I am doing my best (yes, honestly I’m afraid this is as good as it gets!)
How might you see business playing a part in creating a fairer society here in the UK?
Running any business Is hard, we all know that but running a business whatever size comes with a responsibility to do your best for everyone else. I hope I never talk about the people ‘who work for me’ they don’t, if anything I work for them. and if I have this privileged position I have a duty of care to look after people who, often through no fault of their own need help – as business leaders, we could change so many lives let’s do it.
Why is it important that those in business lead with purpose?
like it or not people look to us for leadership, they expect us to have the understanding of the problem and to have ideas of how to solve it. It is not just financial success. We drive organisations culture, employee engagement, and societal impact. It contributes to a sustainable business and allows us to have a positive influence on things around us. Our communities.
By participating in a CEO Sleepout event, you’ll gain insight into the big issues surrounding homelessness and what – as business leader – you have the power to change. We hope you’ll be moved to create a positive social impact in your business, adding value that strengthens communities and society as a whole.