Leadership programme helps local engineering company refine their strategy

An engineering company based in Newcastle-under-Lyme has revisited their business growth strategy, thanks to support from a Keele University leadership programme.

In 2018, Gary Smith, Joint Managing Director at Staffordshire Precision Engineering Ltd (SPE), took part in the Mercia Centre for Innovation Leadership programme* – a fully-funded programme that supports local business leaders and entrepreneurs – in order develop new business leadership techniques that could be used to grow his company.

Formed almost 40 years ago, SPE Ltd produces high-quality components for a variety of specialised industries such as aerospace, automotive and electronics, and has even supported a number of Formula 1 teams. SPE has placed itself at the forefront of the industry by investing in the latest technology and manufacturing techniques, as well as by having a skilled workforce to deliver the high standard and specialised services to their clients.

However, despite this success, Gary was keen to progress SPE further and turned to Keele University to see what support was available to businesses like his.

The Mercia Centre for Innovation Leadership supports aspirational business leaders as well as early-stage and aspiring entrepreneurs. Through a unique blend of action learning – which includes one-to-one coaching, group learning, peer review, and activity- and group-based learning – the programme aims to result in the development of an innovation-focused action plan that will help the participants’ businesses to innovate and grow. Delivered by academics, expert business leaders and the University’s Entrepreneurs in Residence, each programme cohort is delivered over a six-month period and is open to small-to-medium sized businesses in the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire.

Speaking about his participation, Gary commented: “The programme covers a variety of topics with knowledgeable guest speakers and lecturers. One of the topics that was hugely beneficial to me was around marketing – being a diverse company providing a service in lots of different sectors can mean marketing can be challenging in conveying the right messages, but MCIL has enabled me to implement a targeted marketing plan as part of the company’s ongoing strategy and to date it has been very effective.

“During the programme, I developed some good relationships with the other participants. It was a great mix of people and it was reassuring to know that other businesses often face the same challenges and that we could work together to solve them. It was a great experience all round and I would recommend the programme to any local business.”

For more information on Mercia Centre for Innovation Leadership, and to apply for a place on the next cohort which will be running from November 2019 to April 2020, please visit the dedicated programme website.

Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire businesses can benefit from a range of specialist support and funding opportunities through Keele University’s Business Gateway. For more information, interested companies can visit keele.ac.uk/business, telephone 01782 733001 or email business.gateway@keele.ac.uk.

ERDF portrait logo *The Mercia Centre for Innovation Leadership (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.