Make it in Great Britain Industry Champion – Liz Forthergill

Liz Fothergill, Chief Executive, Pennine Healthcare

Liz Forthergill

Chief executive, Pennine Healthcare

Elizabeth Fothergill has an honours degree in Library and Information Studies and an MA in Management. She is chief executive of Pennine Healthcare, one of the UK’s leading privately owned manufacturers of single use sterile disposable healthcare products and customised theatre procedure packs. The company has a wide ranging sales base, including the majority of the UK hospitals and an extensive export market, with sales to over 70 countries worldwide. The company employs over 300 people and is located at City Gate, Derby, where the values led team use lean sigma techniques and in-house design and automation to stay competitive.

Elizabeth is deputy chair of the Governing Council of the University of Derby and chair of the Further Education Governance Committee.

Elizabeth is a member of the Department of Justice, Southern Derbyshire Advisory Committee and the Chair of Derby Dales Careline. She is also chair of the Trustees of Derwent Stepping Stones, a neighbourhood nursery, training and community development centre. She is also a non-executive director of Derby Renaissance Board, the Active Culture Board and the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Chamber of Commerce and a recently appointed Trustee of the Derbyshire YMCA.

How has your company engaged with young people and the community to improve the image of manufacturing?

Pennine Healthcare is rooted in the community of Derby and seeks out opportunities to engage with young people. We have been involved in many projects with Business in the Community, the Derbyshire branch being chaired by Pennine’s HR Manager. We help local schools in mock interviews; offer a varied week of work experience for year 9 and 10 pupils and run open mornings to showcase our Apprenticeships scheme.

What have you personally done to improve youth engagement with manufacturing?

The very essence of Pennine Healthcare is its total commitment to manufacturing in the UK, championed by me through many years where sourcing from China was seen as the “innovative” and then an “obvious” business strategy! But not to me!

As a Derby manufacturer, our key strength and greatest asset is in our people and wherever possible we try and excite young people in a career in manufacturing. Engineering is critical to our success so talented young engineers in maintenance and development are essential, as are well educated, pro-active and motivated young people in all departments.

I have certain non-executive roles in the City and each gives me an opportunity to try and promote and encourage young people into industry. Some examples include:

• Vice Chair of the Governing body of the University of Derby, which is working towards a renaissance in its Engineering programmes
• Speaker at the British Chamber of Commerce conference in London in 2011 on the opportunities for apprenticeships and the role of the Chambers of Commerce
• Member of the Derby Renaissance Board, which focuses on growth in Derby through its world-wide profile as a high tech manufacturing city
• Speaker at the Telegraph Festival of Business Conference in Manchester in 2011 on the advantages of manufacturing in Britain

What more needs to be done?

All manufacturing companies need to champion the value of UK manufacturing to the economy and ensure that educational standards and qualifications are aligned to the needs of industry. Even young children need to be excited by science and technology and encouraged to pursue school subjects which might appear challenging and difficult, but without which engineering careers would not be possible

Everyone in education and industry needs to work together to raise the profile of UK manufacturing; highlight the amazing success stories and the enormous breadth of world class products made in the UK and what rewarding careers are available in the sector.

To that end I am very proud to have been appointed as a Make it in Britain Industry Champion.