Meet The Manufacturer Top 100 2019 Exemplars – 12: Giles Salt

The Manufacturer Top 100 is a project that showcases the most dynamic leaders, young pioneers and unsung heroes working in UK manufacturing, all of which have been nominated by their peers.

Among the Top 100, however, our judging panel chose 20 individuals for special recognition. We call them ‘Exemplars’ – those who have exemplified remarkable leadership, daring or innovation within their respective field, and who set the direction of travel as we head into the new decade.

Giles Salt, Chief Executive Officer, M&I Materials

Giles Salt, CEO, M&I MaterialsLike so many who take the decision to pursue a career in manufacturing, Giles Salt was greatly influenced by one of his parents.

His father, Colin, purchased M&I Materials from GEC Alstom in 1993, before later recruiting his son to help him transform this Manchester-based company into the successful multi-million-pound enterprise it is today.

The self-styled entrepreneur and company CEO said working with his father was a meeting of minds, and that being a “chip off the old block” meant the pair happily shared the same values in business, and often independently came to the same conclusions when deciding the company’s future.

Giles, a former chartered accountant and geography graduate at Leeds University, was convinced to join his father’s company in 2004 through sheer love of the industry and the thrill of a new challenge.

“It’s the excitement of building a business that motivates me and for it to be in manufacturing is even better. Manufacturing has that tangible quality – products that you can see and touch.

“The industry has global reach and I love that products we make in Manchester are used, for example, in power stations in China, or transformers in New York, or substations in Saudi Arabia. It’s been quite a journey but leading the team in all that we’ve achieved is something I’m so very proud of.”

Celebrating seven years of inspirational industry leaders

The Manufacturer Top 100 Logo 2019 - For Use in Slider BarLaunched in 2014, The Manufacturer Top 100 publicly recognises the most dynamic leaders and innovators in manufacturing.

Published by The Manufacturer, in partnership with Cranfield University, one of the country’s top centres of business education, the project is helping to dispel widely-held myths that vibrant manufacturing in the UK is a thing of the past.

Click here to make your nomination for The Manufacturer Top 100 2020, and to download a copy of the 2019 publication.

Although he could not have known at the time, Giles said his auditor training and academic achievements had served him well in getting the most from business opportunities.

“What I came to appreciate is that the skills I gained doing a geography degree were quite similar for what you need in accounting. You spend the whole time analysing what’s around you, trying to work out why it is the way it is – whether its physical geography concerning rivers and coastlines, or human geography concerning why people do what they do. And those skills are absolutely transferrable to a manufacturing organisation.”

While at M&I Materials, Giles’ initiatives have helped company turnover soar from £8m in the year he joined, to £46m in 2018.

“It’s no exaggeration to say that our growth is export-driven, so much so that we now export an incredible 91% of turnover to 65 countries”.

A staunch believer in bold and confident action, and the ability of young people coming through the ranks, Giles said M&I has invested heavily in its people, and unified under a dynamic company vision to push new products into new markets, while protecting areas in which M&I is already thriving.


In their own words

What is your favourite engineered/manufactured product?

The marine chronometer timepiece, built by John Harrison in the 1760s, was an incredible feat of engineering. This innovation in naval navigation enabled the globalisation we know and rely upon today to be built. It quietly changed the world as we know it.

Please give one interesting fact about yourself that not many people know

I run a local scout group during evenings and weekends with children aged from 10 to 14. Children have an uncanny knack of forcing me to keep my feet on the ground. It is a perfect reality check of what is truly important in life.

If you weren’t in manufacturing what would be your dream job?

A photographer. It would be a bit of a career change, so perhaps in another lifetime.


The Manufacturer Top 100 is produced in partnership with Cranfield University – one of the country’s top centres of business education, and low-cost talent partner, Trust Hunter Ltd (Hunter).