Why Is Leadership Important with Peter Hawkins

12 July 2018

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Terry Mallin : Welcome to this week’s manufacturing ignition podcast, thanks for tuning in as always and I hope you enjoy this week’s show. This week I’m delighted to be joined by Peter Hawkins who is the managing director of Park Cake bakery in Bolton.

Peter has  been running sales at the MD level for the past thirteen years talk less of Park Cakes, which is 160 million tons of that, keep manufacturing, supplying UK major retailers, I would be surprised if you haven’t been at a supermarket and seen a retailer branded kit, and technically that would’ve came from  Park’s cakes. 600 people and I told it was about 60 million, over the past couple of years Peter has laid the transformation of the Bolton side with significant growth, implementation of a field new leadership team across all functions. Of course Peter during this period and helped me for a lot of the recruitment and I can see he’s wearing a bare slip doesn’t fit manufacturing today, but I’m delighted to have Peter on the show to discuss this week’s hot topic, why leadership is important, Peter thanks for coming on the show.



Peter Hawkins: Morning Terry thank you, good to join you.


Terry Mallin  Great, and I thought we just get it kicked off straight away Peter then so, you know the key thing in.. why is leadership important?


Peter Hawkins : Yes if I initially talk in very simple terms, and if we can install a leadership culture that allow each of us six hundred people to even be 1% more effective that's hugely powerful in our business, and far more powerful than any one of our leaders becoming more efficient or effective individually, the size of that growth is as I say hugely powerful. If I talk in slightly more practical terms so we employ in addition to our leadership population we employ a couple of dozen engineers, who will do really valuable jobs for us, in order for them to be qualified as say an electrician, they'll have to serve a circus three years apprenticeship, stay up to date with legislation and commit to some form of professional development each year. I would argue that the leaders in our business have far more influence on its success than our engineers, and if I talk in extremes, historically we might take a machine minder because they're a good machine minder and make them a line leader, assuming they have the skills to do that job or we might take our best line leader and make them a shift manager, or we might take our best shift manager and make them a production manager etc.. etc.. each time on the assumption that they have the ability to do the next level of leadership.

Without the right training and the right evaluation, that logic is totally flawed, so effectively we have an electrician who has three years of training, professional development and without a proper framework for our leadership and that's both about training and about evaluation, then it's nowhere near as powerful as it might be, and so in simple terms those are the two things as to why leadership in our businesses is absolutely essential.


Terry Mallin : OK so that’s interesting Peter so how do you go about doing that?


Peter Hawkins : It’s a really good question I think the most important question about how we train and empower our leaders is the how not necessarily the what, and that's the thing that unlocks a real potential. So we will just firstly talk about the challenges that we have to overcome in the how, so it has to firstly be: a journey of self-discovery, people have to be able to internalise the learning, understand what it means to them, how they can apply it in their own style and their own character.. if I go back to my analogy of electrician it's not how to connect two set of wires, it has to be individual;

Secondly it has to be delivered at all levels, and that has to start with the most senior people in the business so in our leadership program I was the first person to do it, and that allows our senior leaders to take our more junior leaders through the program and lead them effectively through that, and so the program has to apply equally to someone who has let's say thirty years of leadership experience compared to someone who might be in their early twenty's or maybe even younger who are embarking on the leadership journey;

And finally and probably most importantly, it has to be practical and interactive the analogy that say “tell me I’ll forget, show me I’ll remember, involve me I'll understand” is so much so applicable to this program.

So having taken those principles and applied them to the program, we then take each of our leaders through three very distinct phases: Firstly they have to learn how to lead themselves, how to behave in an authentic way, how to install trust from the team below them in themselves, they then have to learn how to lead others and that's the more classic tools of empowerment, leadership styles etc.., and then we can go on to the practical tools that might be shot into full control, Kaizen, 5S any of those, but I’m really clear you can't do that third phase without doing that the first two phases first and that's quite often a mistake that we’ve made in the past where we say “right, let's go through will class tools etc..” but those on their own, will fall on fallow ground. So that's really the how, as to how we create a population of leaders.



Terry Mallin : Admirable for all this period you’ve been through all this charge in team in the last couple of years so far within Park Cakes, have you been applying those principles specifically within your own business?


Peter Hawkins : Yes, so clearly in putting this together you have to first of all take account of the current business situation and from a Park Cake Bolton in perspective there's a couple of really interesting dynamics at that helped to see finely; firstly we've got reasonably significant growth so we grew by 15% last year and we budgeted to beat that growth this year, so that's significant growth and significant capacity to be unlocked; and secondly our first line management population historically was at a low level, too low a level, so we were starting from a low base. So first of all we appointed 15 first line managers, so people responsible for a seller of anywhere from 10 to 30 people, these are people earning circa 20000 lb a year, all of those are internals, most of them had none or very limited leadership experience, most of them are Eastern Europeans so we had a number of cultural challenges in some cases language challenges. But all to a curse and they were all extremely hungry, quite nave, had a huge appetite to learn, and as I’ve said we had the cultural challenges of.. you know they were in a country that they weren’t brought up in and the sort of deserve leadership therefore really important.

So having identified those 15 people, we secondly took them through the leadership program, as I say putting the senior leaders through first so that we can effectively lead them through and support and mentor them through the program, and effectively we started with a blank sheet of paper, so out of that we get a great deal of consistency what we don't get is, well actually we did this at our previous place and I’ll interpret it, so we get a great deal of consistency and alignment, and we build a team at Park Cakes, that know how to lead in the way that we want to at Park Cakes so therefore we get a loyalty, and the commitment to the cause because we created or helped create the leaders within that business. So the biggest challenge and biggest challenge for us, and in my experience most food manufacturers in gross, isn’t about machinery or kits, it's about the capacity of our management and how do the managers cope with 15% more business or 30% more business.

So that might be a new shift, that might be a new line, and what in effect we've done is create that management capacity, so that when we want to put a new cell of production arm on a night shift or a back shift or put a new machine in, then we are able to put one of our newly trained first line managers in and plug them in almost in modular form, so that they're aligned to what we do we know exactly how they're going to behave when we're not there, exactly how they're going to lead their people and we create the framework around that tells them “this is what's important for me to do, this is what's not important for me to do” and out of that, we're able to grow the business with the right leaders and in a consistent way.


Terry Mallin : Yes 100% Peter and I think, you know that clearly shows your experience at this level and being a leader within a company and I know for a fact that Park Cakes over the last couple of years has benefited hugely, for having you involved within the senior team and I know that’s only all worth Park Cakes, and it’s going to be exciting to see what happens over the next couple of years coming, and it’s all the foundation that you’ve laid within the business. Peter I’ll like to thank you very much for having you on this week’s podcasts, really do appreciate it, I hope you enjoyed it as well?


Peter Hawkins : That was good, thank you Terry.


Terry Mallin :Thanks Peter and I’m sure after listening to Peter that was a set full of information, and I’m sure that's left a Iot of ideas in our listener’s heads, and if you are listening and it has got you thinking and you need help on one or two questions, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with myself and I can put you in touch with Peter. So my contact details of report and Email across is terry@bonfirerecruitment.com, as discussed our hot topics are a snapper of knowledge and hopefully it has got you thinking about your own business and your own leadership, and I hope be able to take some of the ideas and adopt at your own leadership strategy. I hope you enjoyed listening to the show, thank you very much as always for tuning in and I really as much appreciate it, and please keep an eye open for next week’s show, thanks a lot, bye bye.


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