A WINSFORD business leader has gained valuable new digital skills after completing an innovative leadership programme.

Alan Ryan, managing director of Technoprint, a printer specialising in supplying patient information leaflets to the pharmaceutical industry, was among the first to graduate from a course run by Lancaster University Management School and Made Smarter, the industry and government partnership driving manufacturing productivity and growth through digital technology.

The eight month programme involved a mixture of workshops, site visits to manufacturers, including Veka, Hosokawa Micron and Senator, who are already adopting digital technology to test new ideas.

Alan said: “This programme enabled me to get away from the office once a month to meet with like-minded people and talk through our challenges and ambitions.

Winsford Guardian:

Alan Ryan, managing director of Technoprint in Winsford

“We developed a shared vision and strategy which gives purpose to every decision we make.

“We adopted new technologies which will clean up our data and eliminate manual processes which have hampered accurate decision-making.

“We also have a vision to move from just a manufacture to a service company, integrating with our customers and supply chain – something I never thought possible before I started the leadership programme."

Alan is keen to encourage other manufacturers to do the course.

"Industry 4.0 sounds big and scary to most small and medium business and it's easy to bury your head in the sand," said Alan. "This programme gives you the opportunity to talk through your fears, arm yourself with vital knowledge and understanding to make sensible decisions about the future of your business.”

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A two-day residential broke the ice and enabled everyone to get to know each other.

Six workshops led by academics delivered leading edge thinking and business practitioners showed how the new technology coul dbe put into practice.

Topics included setting the strategic context; stakeholder engagement; audit processes; performance management; scoping and leading change; and implementing change.

Donna Edwards, director of the North West Made Smarter pilot, said: “I’m delighted that the Made Smarter Leadership programme has made such a positive impact.

“It has given leaders crucial time out of their business to reflect on the bigger picture and share ideas and experiences alongside their peers in manufacturing.

"They have been taught about the wide-ranging digital tools available to them and the potential impact they can have on their business’s growth and competitiveness.

“This pioneering group of leaders have been able to create a digitalisation strategy to explore how technology can improve business performance, as well as develop the leadership skills needed to manage operational change and employee expectations.”

Professor Angus Laing, dean of Lancaster University Management School, said: “The feedback from the first cohort of the Made Smarter leadership programme has been incredibly positive, re-enforcing Lancaster’s outstanding reputation for devising and delivering world-class business leadership development."

Registration for the next leadership programme is now open. Applicants have until January 29 to apply ahead of induction on February 25.

To apply for the next course visit lancaster.ac.uk/lums/madesmarter, email madesmarter@lancaster.ac.uk or call 01524 593 881.