What is The Manufacturer Top 100 and why is it important?

Posted on 30 Jan 2024 by Joe Bush

In response to the rising concerns from manufacturers over the lack if young people coming into the sector, an ageing workforce and the dearth of visible role models, The Manufacturer launched its Top 100 programme in 2013.

Its aim was to provide a platform and a showcase to celebrate the best of UK manufacturing – not the big businesses and the household company names – but the inspiring people who make this amazing industry tick.

The Manufacturer Top 100 will take place on 5 June as part of Smart Manufacturing & Engineering Week. Nominations for are open now. Click here to nominate.

Manufacturing is full of committed, enthusiastic and passionate individuals, and there are a whole plethora of exciting, well-paid and rewarding careers that exist in the sector. However, this fact often gets lost in the mainstream and outdated, tired and erroneous pictures of the sector are still being painted by the media, teachers and parents alike – those of hard hats, greasy overalls and smoke belching factories.

The modern reality of UK manufacturing couldn’t be further from the truth. It is a sector bursting with high-tech innovation – whether that be automation and robotics, digital transformation, IoT and connectivity, or industrial data and AI – all helping society meet the needs of the future against the backdrop of some unprecedented challenges.

A decade on since the programme’s launch, the Top 100 has grown into a diverse community over 1,000 strong. Each year since the programme’s inception, UK manufacturing has taken the time and effort to nominate colleagues and peers for inclusion. Our highly skilled and experienced team of judges then comb through each nomination to decide who makes the final 100. And for those that have demonstrated particularly impressive achievements, the judging panel chooses 20 for special recognition – we call them ‘Exemplars’.

When we speak to manufacturers about the solutions to the myriad challenges facing their businesses today, it’s incredible how often the conversation comes back to people. They are the beating heart of UK manufacturing and the ones driving this period of unprecedented change, and The Manufacturer Top 100 brings the sector together to celebrate that fact.

Far from being a one-off awards evening, the Top 100 has helped drive forward many a career in its ten years of existence, providing individuals with that recognition, kudos and subsequent confidence to go on to even greater heights. But don’t take our word for it. Here, we speak to members of the Top 100 alumni who offer some insight into what the Top 100 means to them.

Taahir PatelTaahir Patel, Senior Process Development Engineer, LISI Aerospace

“I was really humbled to be part of the Top 100. When I found out I’d been nominated by my general manager it was a great feeling, but to then actually be selected was a great achievement. To be one of so many talented individuals within the sector means the world to me.

“Manufacturing is an industry that’s always evolving, thus offering many different opportunities. Every day is a challenge and if you’re someone who likes that then it can be the perfect career.”

Shaun Pledger (1)Shaun Pledger, Managing Director, Alloy Fabweld

“I was very happy to be nominated and it made me realise just how important this achievement is, not only to myself but to our group of companies, because recognition like this only comes along with a good team around us.

“The Top 100 benchmarks UK manufacturing and innovation and most importantly, it shows that in the UK, we can do great things and all the people that have been nominated for the Top 100 all have one thing in common – they’re all ‘can do’ people.”

Chris JohnsonChris Johnson, Production Director, Stage One Creative Services

“When I received the email to tell me I was nominated I was over the moon, as the Top 100 is such a prestigious award – it was a really proud moment for me and my family. It’s given me a big confidence boost and made me realise that I’m doing something right, so I hope I can use this platform to inspire others.

“Learning from others is important to me and I think that goes for the industry as a whole. Innovation is often left to R&D and technology sectors but there’s huge potential for innovation within manufacturing.”

Davies-Chinnock KirstyKirsty Davies-Chinnock, Managing Director, Professional Polishing Services

“I was so pleased to be named. I’ve been doing this job for 34 years and won several awards but The Manufacturer Top 100 is slightly different because it’s voted and judged by people who know about manufacturing – the challenges, and the highs and lows – and they know how integral the sector is to everyday life.

“I’ve been quite vocal about encouraging more women into manufacturing. It is such a wonderful sector to work in but it’s often perceived as being very male dominated – it is, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some amazing women carving out some wonderful careers for themselves, while also championing the next generation coming through.”

For more stories on People & Skills click here.