Meet the MD. Karl Westhead
Introducing our new Managing Director – Karl Westhead.
Having been with Halma for 15 years, six years as a customer of FFE, new Managing Director Karl Westhead arrives with a good knowledge of our team and products – but that doesn’t mean he wants his tenure as MD to be a simple continuation of the status quo. Karl believes that he is stepping up at exactly the right time for FFE to take a big leap forward – an opinion he is backing with action, which commenced with the hiring of new top talent, implementation of lean manufacturing, and more responsive quality processes during his first few months at the helm.
Since 2006, Karl has built solid relationships with some of Europe’s largest and best-known fire safety brands, and that has allowed him to develop a thorough appreciation of how the fire sector has changed – in perception, importance, and what customers want from their manufacturers.
Speaking on how he sees FFE’s future, the new MD said the following:
We continue to operate in a very competitive space and over the next 12 months, R&D will remain at the forefront. It is crucial that even during the added pressures of a global supply chain crisis we can continue to deliver the most creative and dynamic strategies which realise the results that our clients need and expect.
A key focus for FFE is being committed to building a diverse and inclusive culture. I believe that the innate differences in our people can be leveraged to help FFE win. We embrace these differences, knowing that innovation and problem-solving are greatest when people come from diverse backgrounds with different experiences and mindsets. By creating an inclusive environment where everyone can freely contribute their own unique viewpoints and capabilities, we all grow stronger together. By investing in the people we have, and new talent across the business, we can continue to stand out and grow both our customers and as a company.
I have been in the fire sector for six years and have worked as Technical Director for Fire Detection products and leading a Fire Notification business. It is this experience and the incredible team around me that will ensure we follow the right strategy to drive FFE forward. Understanding the needs of our customers and developing new products and solutions that meet both articulated and un-articulated customer needs is essential, and I believe we are very well positioned to achieve that during my first 12 months as MD.
HOW’RE YOU FINDING YOUR NEW ROLE AS FFE’S MD?
I am loving it! It’s all about the team who are pulling together to develop and grow FFE.
WHAT’S A TYPICAL DAY LIKE FOR YOU NOW?
There is no typical day! Usually, it starts with getting up at 5am and going for a run or swim, and getting into the office around 7.30. Catch up on e-mails and then join the production start-up meeting at 9am. After that it is so varied from calls with customers, working with colleagues to deliver strategic initiatives, reviewing the latest Lean or Green improvements within Operations or R&D, to checking that all the air conditioners are switched off at the end of the day!
WHAT ARE YOUR MAIN AIMS FOR THE BUSINESS?
Become truly excellent at delivering what our customers need. FFE will continue to embrace new business models, products, processes, and approaches and evolve an ecosystem of addressable partnerships. I also want to ensure that FFE is an even better place to work with a diverse workforce and our strong “one team” culture.
WHICH SUPERPOWER WOULD YOU CHOOSE?
Super speed power. Just think about how much more you can get done and how much petrol costs you would save!
IF YOU COULD CHOOSE TO DO ANYTHING FOR A DAY, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Fly in the SR-71 Blackbird. It set the world record in 1976 as the fastest air-breathing manned aircraft – one it still holds. If a surface-to-air missile launch was detected, the standard evasive action was simply to accelerate and outpace the missile. Incidentally, the one at Duxford in the UK is protected by our Talentum flame detectors.
We asked a couple of people in our office what they think…
“Since Karl has joined, he has been present in the office and with that brings a lot of focus and drive to each of our teams. I think everybody has responded well and is making an effort every day to be great decision makers, responsible, accountable, and much more positive.” Steve, Head of Customer Operations.
“Karl’s curiosity and keen eye for detail is contagious; it has encouraged others to adopt a new perspective on how things are being done at FFE. With a renewed emphasis on innovation, performance, and accountability across the business, FFE can confidently progress towards achieving its long-term goals.” Satnam, Financial Controller
“Karl has made a big impact in a short amount of time. From challenging processes to encouraging a bigger focus on attention to detail, the changes we have already seen have been not only been refreshing but for the benefit of the business and its employees. FFE has strong strategic initiatives, and we are already building strong foundations to work towards them. We continue to challenge ourselves and our ways of working, and for certain it will be a journey but the future of FFE looks exciting.” Lysette Geraghty, Marketing Director
Be sure to follow Karl on LinkedIn and FFE for more business updates. Get in touch today.