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Manufacturing Leadership Forum

The route to manufacturing excellence is too often seen as simple, through implementing processes that have previously worked for others. However, what appears to be simple is not necessarily easy to do in practice, and  those who makes light of the challenges do us all a disservice. What it takes is for a leadership team to create business processes appropriate for requirements, a culture within the business that works, and provide business systems that align with what the business is trying to do. In a time of uncertainty, as we face now, it is all the more difficult. The subsets of tools and techniques used need to be suitable for the nature of the business, the customers’ demands, and the employees need to be absolutely engaged with the success of the entire operation if great performance is to be achieved.

The Aims of the Leadership in Manufacturing Forum

We are fortunate in the fact that over the years, members of the Institute have succeeded. These we hope to engage in helping and advising the members who are taking the early steps in their careers. It is the aspiration of this Forum that we will discuss the technical issues businesses face in keeping manufacturing (and other sectors) competitive and also the leadership challenges. When our new members become the future movers and shakers, they will face some difficult situations as they work to transform the cultures of their organisations to become fit to take on the best in the world. It is important that the Forum helps members find value in their membership as they progress in their careers and become the future captains of industry who will, in turn, galvanise the next generation. We wish to create a platform that will give practical advice, in hand with inspiration, from those who have already ‘done it’. It will be a place where people can ask the difficult questions in a safe environment.

The Forum Leaders

Derek Small was one of the founding team of MML (Manufacturing Management Limited) and has been in the business of working with businesses both in the area of the technical changes needed and the cultural and behavioural changes essential in making those processes work well. This work has taken him to much of Europe, as well as Singapore, India, Egypt, Russia, the USA and Australia. 

Prior to that he had been involved in hands on Operations Management being responsible for over 2000 people. He has crossed the boundaries between many disciplines, including finance, sales, procurement, planning, plus spending a few years in the education sector. 

His leadership work for them led to him being inducted into the AIESEC (International Student Organisation) Hall of Fame.  He gained a second degree black belt in Traditional Karate, ran award winning Youth Theatre Groups with his wife, Maggie, and also became a proficient model aircraft flyer and air-show commentator. When he has time he enjoys travelling in his motorhome, and is a great fan of Rioja, the area as well as the wine.


Steve Manion is a consultant in Operations and Resource Management. He writes and runs training courses in the United Kingdom and Australia. He is a fellow of both the American Production and Inventory Management Society and the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport in the UK. He has led courses in Production and inventory control in Australia, Europe and China.
He read Management and Agricultural Science at university in Australia, where he completed Post Graduate Research in Wheat Quality at Charles Sturt University and Airlines at Hornsby TAFE. He has had work published in journals in the USA, UK, Australia and New Zealand on Resource Management. Previous to this he served in 3rd Battalion of the Royal New South Wales Regiment for five years and was awarded the Australian Defence Medal for his military service. Mr Manion was elected to Kent County Council in June 2009 as the Member for Dover North.

He has also worked as a District Councillor since 2003, and is the member of Dover District Council for Eastry Ward covering the Parishes of Eastry, Northbourne, Sutton, Tilmanstone and Great Mongeham. He is Dover District Council’s representative on The Industrial Communities Alliance (the Coalfield Communities Campaign) and is also the Chairman for the Midlands and South region as well as a member of the National Executive Committee and has represented the East Kent Coalfield on the Liaison Committee of the National Coal Mining Museum in Wakefield. He is a firm believer in serving the community as well as keeping abreast of the latest developments in Production and Inventory Management.



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