Category Archives: Press Releases

UK Businesses Need to Embrace Innovation to Succeed in Economic Downturn

Sainsbury Management Fellows’ Society (SMF) is pleased to announce that Ernie Poku has been named as its new president. Ernie succeeds Dan Mutadich, who stepped down after two years leading the organisation.

With a downturn in the UK economy, Ernie has laid out his vision for SMF over the next few years:
“Engineers at senior level in businesses can help to lead innovation, change and make companies more resilient in this increasingly changing global environment. During my tenure, I would like to establish better links with UK industry and leading corporate bodies to raise the profile of the outstanding work of SMFs.

“SMF has been developing excellence in engineers for over 20 years now and many of the fellows now have a wealth of experience behind them. They are a knowledgeable source of mentoring and I am keen to create more opportunities in this area. I would like to encourage more SMFs to take on non-executive directorships of both profit and non-profit organisations; leveraging their learning on the IoD’s Chartered Director course which many fellows have recently completed.”

With a successful career and a genuine passion for the engineering industry, Ernie is well qualified to lead SMF in these objectives.

After Ernie completed his BEng in Mechanical Engineering at Bristol, SMF sponsored his MBA at the Rotterdam School of Management in 1999. Since Ernie has gone on to carve out a very distinguished career within the engineering field. He is currently CEO and Founder of Crescent Diagnostics Ltd, a university spin-out developing a novel test for osteoporosis.

Commenting on Ernie’s appointment, former president Dan Mutadich says; “Ernie’s successes in the field of engineering and influence within SMF make him a major asset to the organisation. With the enthusiasm that he brings to the position I have every confidence that he will continue to grow SMF’s influence within the engineering industry and UK business.”

Response to NESTA report calling for ‘Total Innovation’

We welcome NESTA’s call for ‘Total Innovation’, the report recognises that true globally leading innovation requires much broader thinking, encompassing human skills, economic dynamics, political and international factors and most importantly, how technology impacts all of these. We can no longer consider innovation as an incremental or “non-core” activity, hidden away in R&D with the scientists or held at a safe distance in new product incubators rather like some form of communicable disease. This is often justified by the board as a means to minimise risk but is perhaps more an acknowledgement of a lack of information and understanding of how to manage it. The risk of change in the global market is, however, markedly less than the risk of not changing.

New technology and new international markets, even with existing customers, usually require completely different organisational, marketing and business models and yet many companies continue to control and segment their activities and staff in ways that match the market of the 70s. Such boundaries in teams and responsibilities inevitably leads to incremental steps and failure due to an inability to break through an unsustainable compromise to profitability.

Non-incremental thinking requires structures, individuals and teams of people (including the board) with the ability to synthesise and translate all the factors simultaneously into a unified assessment of the risks and rewards, to make the decision and to deliver the plan.

The UK is woefully lacking in these technology and innovation translators; those that can speak the language of both technology and business. The report has highlighted that innovation is not only being impeded by a lack of people with STEM skills, but also because these skills are rarely fused with business knowledge. What’s more, people in technical and creative roles are currently operating in silos, divorced from participating in the marketing, strategic, or financial decisions. These elements of the business model cannot merely be applied like a veneer, hermetically sealing the dangerous change inside, as they all are integral to the success of NESTA’s vision of ‘Total Innovation’.

Technical experts are facing a glass ceiling in UK plcs, through lack of business skills – this is seriously impairing our ability to compete with countries such as China and India where the traditional and specialist skills based – organigram locked – industrial structures have never developed and been institutionalised. As the report highlighted technical experts need to broaden their skill base – firms need to nurture management, marketing, leadership, change and project management skills across technical experts, otherwise the UK will not be able to effectively compete internationally.

SMF was set up over twenty years ago to bridge the gap between technical and business knowledge; we have been campaigning for UK companies to equip their technical experts with the necessary business skills