Five years ago, our current Managing Director Iqbal Bahia, walked through the doors at Kirkstall Precision and so began a journey of constant improvement, managerial excellence, people motivation and development and a strong vision of how this business could grow, develop, and stay relevant for decades to come.
We thought it fitting to celebrate those five years by sitting down with Iqbal and asking him five key questions. Have a read of them and his answers below.
Question 1, how did you end up at Kirkstall, what was your journey here?
I have spent over 30 years working in the international corporate world, mainly working away from home. As time passed, I had a desire to challenge myself further and take my decades worth of knowledge into a company where I could really effect change and build a solid reputation that would be respected globally.
I was approached by Kirkstall Precision Engineering’s CEO, Adam Thornton, to come on board and lead the business at an operational and daily management level. This evolved into my expanded role which looks at all we do now and ensures we are match fit for whatever the future may hold by ensuring we have the people, the skills, the machines and the processes in place for continued success.
Question 2: What three things are you most proud of achieving in your 5 years?
Implementing new business management, quality management and ERP systems into the business. This was a huge uptake and the effect it has had on the business is amazing and is something I am very proud of leading.
Also, being a catalyst for the cultural changes that have taken place over the past 5 years and ensuring that Kirkstall Precision Engineering embraces these and promotes both gender and ethnic diversity and inclusion in engineering and manufacturing.
I guess most of all, I’m proud of the team who have all embraced these changes and helped drive a culture of continuous improvement.
Question 3: What three things do you hope to achieve in the next 5 years?
This is a tricky one as I have such a long list of things I consider daily. If you put me on the spot, I would say continuing to drive our Lean Manufacturing ethos is high on my list.
The introduction of a new production planning and scheduling system will be implemented to ensure continued efficiency improvements. This will enable us to look at the sustainable growth of the business over the next 5 years and continue to attract the best talent and maintain our reputation of engaged and happy employees and customers.
Question 4: What still excites you about the world of precision engineering?
I’ve always been passionate about ensuring this industry and sector has the next generation of skilled professionals which is required at the local and national level.
To back this statement up, here at Kirkstall Precision Engineering we currently have 7 apprentices and a graduate. Passing on my knowledge and expertise to these individuals allows me to reflect when I was an apprentice and keeps my passion and drive alive.
The fulfilment you get from this can only really be understood by others who have been on the journey that our new intake is on. Simply put, watching these apprentices achieve their goals is special and is never taken for granted by the management team here at Kirkstall.
Question 5: What advancements do you think we will see in the next 5 years?
This is a very difficult question to answer as technology is moving so fast and with the advancements in robotics and artificial intelligence who knows where the future could take us.
We have all seen the great developments in robotics, CNC technology, software packages, and 3D printing, and this technological advancement will continue over the next 5 years.
However, I genuinely believe all this new technology is only as powerful and effective as the people who are driving it. It’s paramount that we still recognise the importance of current skill sets and additional development opportunities as they are transferable to the future.
We will witness the emergence of new skills that will be required for the future and I’m excited to be part of a team that is developing these over the next five plus years.