Mike Pickup, head of product development and quality assurance at HESCO has been named The Manufacturer’s Employee of the Month December-January 2018.
Job role and main responsibilities
I am head of product development and technical assurance at HESCO. Our main core market is defence, which means I am constantly assessing and investigating the threats and challenges that the military, and more recently civilian areas, face.
HESCO pioneered defence systems that could protect personnel in war theatres. The location changes, but the threat never goes away.
Now we are looking at high security designs to protect against blast and ballistic threat, which involves designing bespoke solutions to match specific needs.
HESCO also develops environmental defence and recovery systems to get societies back on their feet after disasters.
What technical skills do you have?
I’m an engineer by profession and training, and I always look at how I can use those core skills to develop new ways to protect personnel and property in under-threat locations.
Our latest iteration is the TERRABLOCK, designed less for the military theatre and more to protect civilians in areas that could be targeted by terrorists, such as crowded city centres, events arena or sports stadia.
We designed a system for London 2012, working very closely with the anti-terrorist team there.
What personal characteristics do you bring to the role?
An open mind, patience, determination and a knack for working with un-technical people; plus, the ability to change priorities at short notice.
What is your biggest personal success at YLF so far?
Heavy Vehicle Mitigation (HVM) systems are HESCO’s core product. They are designed to withstand the force of a vehicle weighing up to 8.5 tonnes being driven at speeds of up to 50 mph.
They have been effective in Afghanistan. We have to be fairly certain they will work for the specific job they are designed for before going to test, because each test costs in excess of £50k. I am also proud that we have successfully designed an HVM that is effective in the high street.
Not only can it halt vehicles being driven at speed, but also it is surface mounted so there is no environmental impact. It can be rapidly deployed and removed, providing an effective barrier and offering peace of mind to people going about their everyday lives.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Knowing that we develop solutions for people’s security problems is very rewarding. It often seems that all our products are the same, but each one has to take account of a series of widely diverse environmental and security circumstances.
As a former member of the armed forces and having served in the military for 18 years I understand the very unique needs of each order, and knowing that we develop safe solutions is a special part of the job.
What are your career ambitions?
I’m a chartered engineer by profession, a member of the IMechE and very proud of my achievements. Professional accreditation remains on my horizon, and my next personal goal is membership of the Register of Security Engineers and Specialists (RSES), which would give me validation in our field.