Interview with Martin Broadhurst: Good, better, best

Martin Broadhurst, Cambridge graduate turned Eastender, tells Jane Gray why becoming chairman of CEME was the perfect follow-up to his high flying aerospace career.

Martin Broadhurst’s career has been a straight and narrow path to seniority backed by a fundamental belief in the economic importance of the manufacturing industry.

“Like many young graduates I didn’t have a clear idea of what I wanted to do,” says Mr Broadhurst. “What I was sure of was that I wanted to be part of a system that creates wealth, rather than simply consuming it.”

Martin Broadhurst, Chairman of CEME

Biography: Martin Broadhurst

1975: Graduated Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge University
1975: Joined Marshall Aerospace as a Management Trainee
1990: Appointed director of programmes
1992: Appointed production director
1996: Appointed chief executive
2004: Received OBE for services to the Aerospace industry in the Queen’s Birthday Honours
2011: Appointed chairman of CEME (Centre for Engineering and Manufacturing Excellence)
2011: Elected to Governing Council of the Royal Aeronautical Society
2012: Appointed non-executive director of Ultra Electronics

With a good degree in the bag, manufacturing seemed to fit this bill neatly and, responding to a newspaper advert, Broadhurst applied to Marshall Group for a place on its Management Training scheme. “It was a twist of fate that landed me on the aerospace side however,” remembers Broadhurst. “I thought I was applying to join the automotive arm of the business but was told otherwise in my interview with Sir Arthur Marshall [then CEO and chairman]. I was pretty unsure about aircraft but decided to give it a go.”

Boosted by what Broadhurst describes as an intrinsically “entrepreneurial spirit” at Marshall, this mixture of talent and work ethic went a long way. Having identified project management as a discipline which appealed to his character and abilities, Broadhurst progressed rapidly.

“There is a perception that little manufacturing goes on in the London area and this is not true”

By 1996 he had achieved his ambition, “to be in a very senior position; to run the show.” He was appointed CEO of Marshall Aerospace with a place on the Group Holding Board and chairmanship of a number of other subsidiary organisations.

Martin Broadhurst’s best and worst moment in business

Best: “Winning big contracts is immensely satisfying. It’s exciting to think about the work they will involve and the jobs they will support.

“In my career the two biggest wins that stand out in my mind are the RAF strategic tanker programme which Marshall won in the 1980’s and the Hercules support programme which it took in the 2000’s. The latter of these was a 25 year programme for total capability support which will be worth around £1.3bn over its lifetime.”

Worst:

“The worst moments are undoubtedly when you are faced with making redundancies.

“I think the recession following the first gulf war was particularly difficult for Marshall. We were in the middle of making a major business transition from military to civil just as the civil market went absolutely flat. You can try your hardest but sometimes you have to let skilled people go and that is a terrible loss for the individual, for the business and for industry.”

The afterlife

But come 2010 Broadhurst felt it was time to step back from the commercial world and cast about him for a new direction.

What he found at CEME, the East London-based Centre for Engineering and Manufacturing Excellence, resonated exactly with the passions and concerns that his industry career had raised around the importance of supporting entrepreneurialism, drawing in new blood and raising the status of industrial careers in the wider public consciousness.

“Marshall was founded by an entrepreneurial family and that spirit still characterises the company, driving innovation and encouraging everyone to contribute to the good management of the business,” explains Broadhurst. “In addition, apprentices were our lifeblood, we always stayed one hundred per cent committed to providing apprenticeships, even through the hardest times and they were loyal to the company, many of them progressing into senior management positions.”

An apprentice studying at CEME proudly shows off his work to Communities Minister Eric Pickles at the launch of the HSSRI

With knowledge of this dynamic work environment, it frustrates Broadhurst that the public image of manufacturing has been in the doldrums for so long. “It was obvious to me that CEME was working on exactly the same mission as I was,” he states. “To support the continued development of skills and innovation in industry in a way which showcases it both to future industrial talent, but also importantly to those young people who will not work in engineering or manufacturing, but who need to be aware of the force for wealth creation that the industry represents.”

Broadhurst describes becoming chairman of CEME as a “fantastic” experience. “CEME has come a long way in the last two years and there is a real buzz for me in leading here.”

About CEME

The Centre for Engineering and Manufacturing Excellence (CEME) was established in 2003 as a not for profit, industry led education and business campus. It provides advanced facilities and services to support manufacturing and engineering start-ups, R&D for organisations of any size and skills development, from short term upskilling courses to full apprenticeship training.

CEME has a remit to support local regeneration in East London but its facilities can be used by any manufacturing or engineering business.

New High Speed Sustainability Research Institute

The latest major development at CEME came in July when Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles, launched a £5m project for manufacturing innovation.

The new High Speed Sustainability Research Institute will benefit from £3.5m of Government investment via the Department for Communities and Local Government. A further £1.4m is being invested in the centre by Ford UK, which has long trained its Dagenham-based apprentices at CEME.

Loughborough University will act as academic partner to the HSSRI and will provide 22 researchers and PhD students to support its work with industry. Research will focus on using advanced virtual manufacturing and simulation technologies to accelerate the design of plant and processes which support sustainable growth and improve the international competitive standing of UK manufacturing.

UTC status approved

In another exciting announcement, CEME revealed in May that it had been given approval by the Department of Education to establish a University Technical College on its campus.

The school is due to open in September 2014 and the sponsoring university will be University College London. UCL will also offer bursaries to the brightest students to study engineering on its own courses once they finish their A levels and equivalent qualifications.

Ford UK and Network Rail have signed up to act as industrial partners, guiding the curriculum for up to 650 students but CEME is seeking more engagement from companies of all sizes.

On October 3, TM will host its Manufacturer of the Year Awards 2012 Judging Day at the CEME campus in Dagenham. Shortlisted companies will have the chance to tour the impressive facilities.

CEME can act as a catalyst for accelerating manufacturing and engineering growth asserts Broadhurst. “We almost have full occupancy in our business centre now and the recent launch of the High Speed Sustainability Research Centre [see box] is a real statement of government belief in our ability to support local and national wealth creation.”

Focusing on the local issue Broadhurst says, “The fact that government has put £3.5m behind a manufacturing innovation project in London is very important. We absolutely support the investment in the Catapult centres around the country, but before the investment here, very little attention had been paid to manufacturing in London.

“There is a perception that little manufacturing goes on in the London area and this is not true,” states Broadhust. The challenge, he says, is that London-based manufacturing functions in a very diverse environment where it is difficult to form clusters or stand out from the multitude of other industries.

More to come

Looking to the future, Broadhurst says he will continue to promote CEME as a beacon for manufacturing in the UK for some time to come. In particular he is looking forward to seeing through the establishment of a University Technical College (UTC) on campus. (see box)

“The development of UTCs is hugely important to industry,” says Broadhurst. “And CEME is the perfect environment in which to set one up because the campus is inspiring. It supports the need to make the sector an aspirational career destination.”

To ensure that UTCs fulfil their potential though, Broadhurst cautions that industry must show greater interest than it has done hitherto. “In the UTCs we have the education model which, for many years, industry has been asking for,” he states. “But for the model to work we need companies to get behind it. It cannot succeed without their support whether that be in terms of materials, equipment, finance or time.”

@janefagray