Young leaders’ year challenge

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Three young professionals from Brighouse and Elland have graduated from a gruelling year-long industry programme to maximise and accelerate their leadership potential.

The Future Leaders Programme, led by the British Valve and Actuator Association (BVAA), aims to bridge the gap between older leaders and future leaders of the £3bn UK valve and actuator industry.

Paula Rimmer, 31, Andrew Walton, 32, and Luke Crossland, 31, from Weir Group, Alco Valves and Koso Kent Introl respectively, took part in the 2018 programme. Luke was also presented with an additional award for high achievement.

Between 10 and 12 FLP participants are selected from across the UK each year. They commit to a demanding schedule that takes them out of their comfort zone to develop new skills and extend their professional network.

Monthly personal development sessions focus on areas ranging from presentation and networking skills to emotionally intelligent leadership and team alignment. Sessions are led by Martin Haigh from Brighouse-based training specialist Lattitude7.

Each participant also coordinates and hosts an educational event supported by their employer, so the entire cohort learns more about the wider industry.

This year’s events included an introduction to subsea valve processes held at Koso Kent Introl and an overview of the 5S workplace methodology at Alco Valves.

This is the third year the BVAA has run its Future Leaders Programme, and plans are well underway for a fourth.

BVAA Director Rob Bartlett said: “With a leadership crisis facing many engineering-led industries, we wanted to empower promising young talent in valve and actuator businesses.

“We also saw value in creating a neutral platform where senior leaders from competitive organisations could work together to address this challenge.

“I’ve been closely involved in the leadership journeys of Paula, Andrew and Luke over the past 12 months.

“It’s been inspiring to see how they’ve gained confidence in areas like public speaking while responding positively to all the challenges we’ve set them. They’ve invested a lot of personal time and energy, and I’m sure they will reap the rewards with accelerated career development.”

After graduation, participants become mentors to the incoming Future Leaders Programme cohort. And regular reunions arranged by the BVAA give them the opportunity to continue cultivating their professional network.

The BVAA has represented the British valve and actuator industry for 80 years, and has around 200 members ranging from specialist SMEs to global engineering firms.

The industry is a major STEM employer in the UK: 9,000 people are directly employed by valve and actuator businesses, and the industry contributes £3bn to the UK economy each year.