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    NAA Update: Business Excellence projects, TWISTER, Women In Engineering Day…

    Companies taking part in Business Excellence projects need to complete them on time; the NAA takes on the management of TWISTER, a new Innovate UK-funded project; book now for the NAA Awards Dinner; and what are you doing for Women In Engineering Day?

    Spring is well and truly here, my last article was written on a cold, grey and damp February day compared to the bright, sunny and vaguely warm day that I am writing this! Having extended time-off gave me an opportunity to (metaphorically) do some spring cleaning at home, so now that I am back I’m full of the joys of spring to get us ready to tackle the major challenges that face us for the rest of the year; the first one being that we need to ensure that you all finish your Business Excellence projects on time as there is no opportunity for overrun whatsoever, that also means that we need to gather all your output data, so please work with us on this mammoth task that Martyn, Martina and myself need to face in getting the signed documents from you all!

    The second challenge is the Annual Dinner; although it is a long time to November (and back to the grey days) with such a small group of us if we don’t plug away at it during the year, it won’t happen, so please take a look at the article below and book your table now, it will certainly help us during the very busy period that we have in front of us for the next six months.

    While I was off work, I crept into the back of the room for the BAC Networking event, as I couldn’t miss an opportunity to see the Mono again in its new home! Take a look at the article below in the newsletter, but this is an ideal opportunity to remind you all that if you are thinking of major changes in your business, start to talk to us now as we can give you information and advice on ways to achieve the change and the support that there may be for you. We can continue to support you all the way through the process. It is just one of the benefits of being a member of the NAA.

    Another benefit is that we can become your project management team, especially if you’re a small company with limited manpower or experience in that area. Take a look at the TWISTER article below. This came about while I was having a discussion with two people who eventually became part of the consortium. They said “We’ve got a good idea, if only we had the time and capability to get going…” I agreed it was a good idea and 18 months later we were able hold the launch meeting for TWISTER after I worked with them to develop a consortium and manage the bidding and start-up process for Innovate UK funding. The NAA also became members of the consortium and are now undertaking the project management to ensure that the consortium delivers the intended outputs, while at the same time I hope to provide a good grounding and an understanding of ways to minimise the onus of project management activity for SMEs.

    I had the opportunity to attend the launch of the North East Automotive Alliance at the end of March in Sunderland. It was just over a year ago that colleagues from the NE invited Michael Straughan, Steve Williams and myself over to discuss the benefits of having an organisation like ourselves; we obviously left an impression! So it was really good to see over 200 people in the room at Nissan for the launch, with attendees from SMEs, large companies, local authorities, LEPs and Members of Parliament present. The NEAA is very clear about its vision, which is to support the sustainable economic growth of the sector in the region. A key item for them, similar to ourselves, is to ensure that we provide a clear voice to Government on the role of the companies in the area. I continue to be amazed both in discussions and in the written word at information that has come from London showing the lack of understanding of the automotive industry in the NW. We have to maintain our presence and vigilance if we want to be certain that we are accurately represented in the future. Let’s hope that the ongoing discussions on the Northern Powerhouse will mean that between us, Yorkshire and the North East we can remind people that the size of the automotive industry in those three areas combined is bigger than the rest of the UK added together!

    Tuesday 23 June 2015 is Women In Engineering Day and is dedicated to raising the profile and celebrating the achievements of women in engineering.  Obviously this is a day close to my heart and I would like to encourage all of you to become involved, take a look at this website for more information:

    Our industry is predicted to need a very large number of engineers in the next few years, as do others such as Aerospace, so what better way than to use the other 50% of the workforce: women. I have been very surprised, compared to all my travels abroad, in how few women engineers I come across; other countries are much better than ourselves such as USA, Germany, China, India, Poland, Brazil and Mexico to name a few. So what can you as a company do to support the day? Well here are some ideas; while many are aimed at large companies, everyone can be involved, whether or not you employ women engineers:

    • Organise visits for local school children and parents, and encourage girls to attend
    • Launch a Women’s Network or arrange a social event for your women engineers
    • Carry out an equal pay audit in your organisation and be disruptive in your promotion and recruitment of women engineers
    • Review your Diversity and Inclusion policies, and put on an Unconscious Bias training session for your staff
    • Register your women engineers to speak at schools or register as STEM Ambassadors (
    • Publicise your support of women in engineering through the use of female role models
    • Join the Women’s Engineering Society

    Finally, I would like to thank Steve Williams for standing in for me last month; if you haven’t read his article, go take a look on the website newsletter archives and have a read and see Steve’s passion for industry sector-based organisations like us that provide hands-on support for SMEs.


    European Regional Development Fund Northern Powerhouse
    Partners Department for Business Innovation and Skills Finance Birmingham