Managing Director, Brompton Bicycle
Will is passionate about all things Engineering. He has worked for Nissan, ICI, DuPont and Brompton, where he has been involved in product development, R&D, project management and manufacturing excellence. He studied Mechanical Engineering at Newcastle University and is a Chartered Mechanical Engineer. He joined Brompton in 2002, became a director in 2006 and took over as the MD in 2008. Over that period the company has grown from a £2m turnover company with 27 staff to one of over £15m turnover with over 130 staff. He rides a Brompton.
He is a trustee of the Education and Employers Taskforce, a charity that looks to get real people from the world of work into schools to bring education to life. In particular he wants to inspire more young people to get out there with wild & wonderful ideas and make things. He is also on the London Regional Council of the EEF supporting similar aims.
Will is married with three girls under the age of 7, which when not making bicycles keeps him busy. He manages to grow a few veggies in his patch, combined with the odd chicken when it has not been eaten by the fox.
Before children Will spent most of his spare time in the outdoors, leading a number of expeditions into the deep Amazon and up a few high mountains. He is a Freeman of the City of London and a member of the Vintners Company.
Brompton designs, manufactures, markets and distributes folding bikes, 70% are which are sold overseas, all are made in London. Over 1200 parts go into making each of the 30,000 Brompton’s sold annually; of which 75% of the parts are designed in house and over 50% are manufactured on site. Brompton has been trying to perfect its folding bike for over 25yrs and continues to do so with the full efforts of all its staff.
How has your company engaged with young people and the community to improve the image of manufacturing?
We have two school visits a month, we would have more if we had more space. I am a trustee for the http://www.educationandemployers.org/ from which we run http://www.speakers4schools.org/ where we try to get inspiring speakers into struggling schools. Our staff are involved in http://www.theukrc.org/wise and we have a number of staff who are STEM ambassadors http://www.stemnet.org.uk/.
What have you personally done to improve youth engagement with manufacturing?
I was a Diploma Champion and Ambassador, supporting both Engineering and Manufacturing Diplomas. These Diplomas are still alive, just, but the initiative has been sidelined which is a great shame. Through Speakers for Schools and just by request I speak to many schools and it tends to be to try to bust the myths of what being an Engineer in all about.
What more needs to be done?
The need to get to grips with what the UK general public understand the term ‘Engineer’ to mean. I believe we should regulate the use of the term ‘Engineer’ and back that up with a publicity campaign to highlight what a great and exciting career it is. Leave the private sector to do the rest.