I graduated from Sheffield Hallam University in 1993 with a PhD in Synthetic Organic Chemistry and joined Croda in October of that year as a Senior Development Chemist within the Colloids Division at Widnes. This role involved laboratory development of new materials as well as performance evaluation, process scale up and plant support to facilitate product launch. During the first two years I participated on the Croda Graduate Scheme which was a great help in supporting my early performance and career development. After two years in the company I was given my first supervisory role responsible for new graduates within the department.
As my role started to involve significantly more direct contact with customers and the broader market I was then promoted to the position of Marketing Manager for Personal Care. This role was extremely interesting, being at the interface of customer needs as well as departmental interfaces within the organisation (R&D, Sales, Operations, Regulatory). Primary responsibilities were for the effective selection and launch of products focused on the needs of the market place, and the ongoing support of these materials to deliver commercial success.
In 2004 I was asked to become the Sales & Marketing Director for Personal Care with overall responsibility for the commercial and marketing development of the personal care business of Croda’s European operations, as well as for export activity into global territories. This role had a significantly broader context and was perhaps the first formal leadership position for me in my career. The key responsibilities of the position were to develop sales and marketing strategy consistent with the capabilities and objectives of the business, and to implement this strategy through local sales and marketing teams. Due to the strategic nature of the role it was important to ensure that key performance parameters were met with regard to turnover, margin, profitability, working capital, innovation and personnel development.
In 2008 my role within Croda changed a little into specific business management. Following the acquisition of Uniqema in 2006 there had been some structural development from the identification of businesses that offered significantly greater potential than had previously been delivered. My new role as Managing Director was to integrate two of these businesses in an effort to build a cohesive and well aligned business unit upon which increased sales could be delivered. This was a very exciting challenge and covered a whole new area of activities including change management, leadership development and succession, business strategy development and implementation, project management….and probably most importantly, effective delivery of result through others. The role also provided management responsibility for operations, quality and SHE functions of the business. This role was probably the best of my career in terms of developing key business and leadership skills.
Croda never ceases to surprise in relation to the opportunities for new experiences and personal development, aligned with corporate objectives and needs. After almost 20 years working from the UK I was asked to relocate and take responsibility for the Latin America region…..not only a great challenge for me, but also for my family. This has been a great experience and allows me to utilise the broad business knowledge gained from my activities in Europe to develop Croda within one of the most exciting and geographically important markets in the world.
Building on my experience of doing business in emerging markets I was appointed to the role of President Asia Pacific and relocated to Singapore in July 2014. The role itself bring many leadership challenges both operational, with many manufacturing facilities, laboratories and commercial offices and cultural with the region being geographically huge and covering countries with many different languages, social and business expectations and customer requirements. Asia Pacific is also a very important strategically for businesses such as Croda as we look to tap into the rapid expansion of consumerism drive by the rise of social classes and changing demographics in the region.