Leadership programme hailed as 'best investment ever'

When Stafford-based business Addmaster first heard of Keele University’s innovation leadership programme they were sceptical.  As innovators in a highly technical sector, what could a University tell them about innovation?  However, after talking to the University, they decided to give it a go and Sales Director Sandrine Garnier was selected as one of 22 participants on the first cohort of the Mercia Centre for Innovation Leadership (MCIL)* programme.

Four months later, neither Sandrine or her employer have any doubts.

Addmaster’s founder and CEO Paul Morris said: “While the programme is free, as a growing SME releasing Sandrine to participate represents a considerable cost, but it’s one of the best investments I’ve ever made.  Her involvement with Keele is set to drive significant benefits for our company. What’s more, it was so easy to sign up and get involved.”

Addmaster is a leading supplier of technically-innovative additives for the plastics, textile, paper, paints and coatings industries.  Their key to success is a collaborative approach, working with each client to define specific solutions.  Among many recent successes, Addmaster worked with Marks and Spencer and now supplies the antibacterial technology that makes M&S Bag for Life carriers stay fresh and hygienic with repeated use.

The MCIL programme aims to equip leaders of Staffordshire SMEs with the skills to lead innovation, and ultimately drive business performance.  For Sandrine, it works.  She highlights the unique mix of experiences the programme offers, combining taught modules led by experts, one-to-one coaching by a dedicated entrepreneur and the networking opportunities with other business leaders facing similar challenges that comes from joint participation in such an intense programme.

Commenting on her coach, Entrepreneur in Residence David Lowe, Sandrine says: “David visits the business, so it’s a hands-on approach focused on implementation, not theory.  David challenges me in a really positive way, asking exactly the right questions and helps me see new approaches.” 

As an immediate consequence, Addmaster are putting in place improved three-year planning and a review of team effectiveness.  But Sandrine feels the impacts will go much deeper, for her and the businesses: “I now realise how much more I can offer, and the tools I have gained will benefit the company long term, improving our innovative capability.”

Keele University is seeking participants for future MCIL cohorts.  Competition for places among Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent business leaders is fierce and participants are selected against strict criteria.  

ERDF logo To find out more about MCIL and the full range of specialist support and funding opportunities available, interested companies should contact Keele University’s Business Gateway on 01782 733001 or email business.gateway@keele.ac.uk.

For further information about Addmaster, please visit their website: www.addmaster.co.uk.

*The Mercia Centre for Innovation Leadership project (ref: 32R15P00229) is part-funded from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds England Growth Programme 2014-2020.