Johnson Matthey is a multi award-winning world leader in sustainable resources. They have a focus on clean air, clean energy and low carbon technologies, and are experts in the application and recycling of precious metals.

Operating in over 30 countries their products enhance the quality of life of millions of people worldwide through their beneficial impact on the environment, human health and wellbeing.

Their reputation is confirmed by their extensive list of awards, including The Queen’s Award for Sustainable Development. In 2014 they were voted Britain’s Most Admired Company by Management Today.

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Johnson Matthey Global Manufacturing Leadership Programme (GMLP)

This programme aims to prepare around 100 high-potential employees to be future senior manufacturing leaders in JM plants around the world. Those nominated include junior production managers, existing middle managers, and selected technical staff who wished to move their careers away from specialist roles into mainstream manufacturing management.

A representative sample of around 20 senior manufacturing staff were asked to complete questionnaires which established the appropriate content and relative weighting of Manufacturing Management topics and Leadership skills. This formed the basis of the design, which was then transformed into a bespoke programme.

To date two cohorts of 24 have been trained, with a new cohort scheduled to start in October 2015. The training consists of four modules of 7 to 8 days run over 12-15 months. The programme involves a rich, highly interactive mix of operations and leadership content.

Teaching involves case studies and exercises to illustrate operations management techniques. A considerable amount of classroom time is set aside for discussions and group work. Videos are used to support selected concepts. Simulations and games are used in each module to build skills and to reinforce earlier learning. Each module includes several JM factory visits and one-day group assignments (described below). Inter-module assignments were used to ensure delegates to apply principals within their workplace and they were required to report back in written or classroom presentations.

Each factory visited by GMLP was asked to define at least four process improvement projects. Following a general site tour, four teams were allocated the projects, which had to be undertaken and the recommendations presented to senior management. The teams were required to keep in touch with the process managers so that implementation and benefits could be monitored remotely, and further support given as appropriate.

Because the modules ran over the weekend, one day was initially reserved for tourism, rest and recreation. It soon became apparent that time could be used more effectively to use the delegates’ skills and enthusiasm to support local charities. In Delhi, India, the group visited a local deaf and dumb school and helped with a number of process issues including health & safety, and applying the Five-Ss methodology to create a more tidy and organised workplace. The team also raised money for further improvements. This project enhanced communication skills and cultural awareness, but above all was an emotional and enlightening experience for all.

On the last day of Module 4, the delegates were required to present a summary of the programme highlights, including selected plant assignments. Emphasis was given to presentation effectiveness and story-telling, (using very few Powerpoints) and maximising interaction and influencing skills.

Two cohorts involving a total of around 50 delegates have been completed up to January 2015. Many of their managers have reported that their nominee has noticeably benefited both in terms of leadership skills, confidence, and operations management performance. Most have implemented significant process improvements and some have contributed by providing help and advice to other plants worldwide. In both cohorts, changes implemented only as a result of the plant assignments have created proven savings that exceeded to total cost of the whole programme (eg circa £10m saving for Cohort 1, and £2m saving for cohort 2 projects). There were also tangible improvements to capacity, inventory and quality which will impact positively on financial results and customer satisfaction.