Over the past two years, I have been working with Mike O’Brien at Newson Gale, as he progressed from Head of Sales to Managing Director. As part of this journey, we identified a number of potential managers from within the organisation, and we’ve also created a senior management team. I spoke to Mike to discover how my support has made an impact on his working practice, as well as the people within the organisation:


Background behind the business

Newson Gale manufactures static earthing equipment for a range of hazardous area industries including pharmaceuticals, food and beverage, paints and coatings, and for the chemical and petrochemical sectors. The company produces safety and fire prevention earthing products for road tankers, railcars, and a range of vessels, such as barrels, drums and cans.

Established in 1988, the company has won a variety of awards over the years from the Process Related Equipment award at Interphex (1998) to the Queens Award for Enterprise (2005 - International Trade category), and more recently, the Achievement in International Business (2011 - Nottingham’s Best East Midlands Awards Ceremony) and our Earth-Rite® MGV (Mobile Ground Verification) system won the Technical Innovation award at the International HazardEx Awards ceremony.

In 2016, Newson Gale was acquired by the HOERBIGER Group, which created an interesting set of changes and challenges, as with any acquisition.

Learning how to become a successful leader

When it came to the acquisition, the previous owners of Newson Gale were naturally cautious about the management capability within the organisation and needed a strategy for succession planning. One of the terms dictated by the new company was to have an existing Managing Director and shareholder in situ for the first 3 years of takeover. However, the appointed MD at that time could not meet this obligation, and a new MD had to be identified as a suitable successor. At the time, I was the company’s Head of Sales, and Cherie worked with me to realise my suitability for this vital leadership position.

From my own perspective, Cherie showed me that leadership is a two-way process - just because someone carries a title, does not mean that people will automatically follow you. Good leadership involves sharing the direction and purpose of the business to incentivise your employees. Cherie is very adept at helping people identify areas for development, and I have certainly benefited from her guidance. I felt she had a very good understanding of not only my own objectives, but in terms of the team I was looking to build.

Spotting potential managers and future leaders

Working with Cherie has been mainly people-orientated – asides from our own working relationship, her input into the organisation has helped to create a number of new middle- managers. Some people will naturally struggle during the transition through acquisition, whereas others manage the process well. Cherie helped me create a bridge for employees to transition into middle-manager roles by allowing them to work to their own briefs and meet greater levels of responsibility. Some people are now part of a senior management team, which is still evolving.

Using a people-focused approach, Cherie displays a great level of emotional intelligence, and she is highly skilled when it comes to spotting opportunities for people to move upwards into managerial positions. From an early stage of working together, Cherie advised there were key people in the business capable of delivering, and once these employees were identified, they would need guiding and coaching into their new roles. One of Cherie’s main unique selling points is her strong ability to not get dragged into the mechanics and working patterns of an organisation.

One of the reasons I worked with Cherie is the fact that I was impressed by her experience of working with senior level executives. Her support has also allowed me to step outside of the day-to-day noise, and to realise the potential of my people to develop stronger leadership approached for the benefit of the organisation.