Member Event: Andrew Hodgson, SMD

26 June 2014, 16:30 - 19:30
Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough
TS3 6RS

SMD was, says CEO Andrew Hodgson, “one of the gems of the North East” when he first got involved with the Tyneside business. Now it’s a fully fledged glittering jewel in a crown of thriving engineering companies that are putting the region on the international map.

Andrew was invited by private equity group Inflexion to join SMD in 2008 following their investment in a majority share of the company. Created by five professors from Newcastle University in the 1970s to develop technology for burying underwater pipelines and cables, SMD (Soil Machine Dynamics), had become a world leader in the design and manufacture of subsea vehicle systems. But by 2008 it was at a crossroads, from being a niche enterprise to becoming a large business.

Since Andrew’s arrival turnover has soared from £40m to over £100m, its team has increased more than four-fold to around 500 people and it now operates out of three factories on the banks of the Tyne and in North Shields with service and support units in Brazil, Singapore and the USA.

Having instigated a new management structure to develop six revenue-generating streams in new markets, Andrew says business is as much about leadership as it is about management, with leaders setting the tone and behaviors, as well as the targets, that fuel ambition and aspiration among a workforce.

SMD’s success has attracted the attention of senior politicians and a prestigious Queen’s Award for Export and two Queen’s Awards for innovation, as well as personal recognition for Andrew in the shape of a regional award in the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2012, and the North East Business Executive of the year. More recently he was awarded the UK Manufacturing champion by the EEF.

A passionate advocate of education, skill-building and mentoring, he believes talking to others is critical if you want to learn quickly.

Mentors have been an important part of his experience, which he describes as “the art of learning”. Among them are Sir Philip Hampton, now chairman of RBS, who appointed him as head of treasury for British Steel aged just 25.

At SMD Andrew has more than lived up to his declaration that he’s more than “a go in and build it and get out man”. Indeed, his influence on success generation is much wider now since he is vice chairman of the North East LEP where he leads on skills and, despite coming from the North West, is an influential business ambassador for the North East.

The subjects for discussion are, therefore, endless as guests share in the benefit of Andrew’s experience and learn more about his talent for transformational change.