Employee of the month: Lizzie White, Planning Manager, AkzoNobel

Recently named by Make it in Great Britain as one of its ’30 under 30’ manufacturing
high fliers, AkzoNobel's Lizzie White talks to TM about her passion for her job and the manufacturing industry.

TM: What are the main responsibilities of your job?

I run a team of six planners managing the 3,500 SKU portfolio of the Dulux brand and other UK branded products. The UK market is supplied from the three manufacturing plants in Britain plus a variety of suppliers across Europe.

The UK sites also produce products for export markets. I am responsible for managing the demand control and supply review processes for the business as well as new product introduction from a supply chain perspective.

TM: What key skills do you use?

Managing the UK planning department means using my manufacturing knowledge to drive improvements in operations. Every day is a challenge as I have to balance maintaining a high level of service for customers with managing stock levels in the business and keeping supply chain costs down. I have to be focused and lead my team to ensure that all these aspects are addressed by everyone.

Having a positive nature allows me to deal with these challenges a calm way and this disseminates to my team. Having an entrepreneurial spirit also means I constantly challenge the way we do things.

TM: What do you consider to be your biggest personal success at the company so far?

My greatest achievement has been leading a project that designed and implemented an award winning lean manufacturing process at a large batch, high efficiency plant. This project engaged production, planning and our suppliers. The project is now a fundamental building block for new paint manufacturing facilities and is being rolled out globally as a best practice.

TM: What will your next career move be?

I am working alongside a £110 million investment project for a state of the art manufacturing facility in the North East. I hope this will bring future career opportunities. Ultimately I would like to be on a senior management team and help address the considerable gender imbalance at a senior level in the manufacturing sector, particularly in functions like supply chain.

TM: How do you think best to get more young people interested in manufacturing?

People in schools don’t know about roles there available in the manufacturing industry. To address this AkzoNobel recently held an insight week for ten students to visit the company for a week. We held tours, workshops and had functional day to day work experience to stimulate a desire to work in the industry. Activities like this and campaigns like ‘Make it in Great Britain’ are key to increasing young people’s interest.

TM: You were recently nominated as a ‘30 under 30’ champion by Make it in Great Britain. How did this come about?

I heard about the competition through my supply chain HR partner who suggested that I was an ideal candidate. I am really proud to be chosen to represent the campaign. It is such an honour.

TM: How do you feel about your responsibilities as a 30 under 30 champion?

Manufacturing is essential for the future of Britain. Current economic challenges mean that everything possible must be done to encourage positivity both within the industry and among the general public about its capability to grow. I am incredibly passionate about my part in supporting this. I am also keen to do what I can as a female to show that this is an industry with great opportunities for talented women.