Manufacturing Masters transforms graduate into manufacturing leader

Completing his MSc in Manufacturing Leadership transformed Matthew Byrom into a confident professional with five promotions under his belt.

He began the course as a graduate trainee and had secured his first promotion – to Benchmarking Coordinator – before even finishing the programme. After being promoted through the ranks, from Process Improvement Champion to Team Leader and then Manager, Matthew has since moved from Process Improvement to the role of Sales Support Manager. This was seen as an opportunity for Matthew to gain further people management experience, whilst Siemens saw it as an opportunity to benefit from his skills in Lean management.

“The course has opened up so many doors for me at Siemens. I’ve now moved into sales support where I’m bringing my manufacturing skills into the sales teams that report to me, so we’re seeing an improvement in productivity and customer satisfaction,” he says.

Matthew started the course in 2005 while completing the Siemens graduate programme at its Congleton factory in Cheshire. He’d been taken on as a full-time employee after taking a summer job assembling cardboard boxes. Before he joined Siemens, he thought his Geography degree from the University of Central Lancashire would lead him into teaching. But he felt he needed something more.

“I wanted to make my qualifications relevant to my career aspirations. I wanted to lead a Siemens business with a manufacturing arm to it. And geography just wasn’t going to cut it,” he recalls.

Siemens had been working with The Manufacturing Institute on implementing lean manufacturing at the Congleton plant. So when Matthew made the case for studying the MSc course, his employer was happy to sponsor him since Siemens knew the skills he acquired would also help to improve the business.

The mutual benefits were soon apparent. For his dissertation Matthew designed a shop floor leadership programme for the factory, enabling it to change its working patterns to a cell management model. This programme is still in operation now, having trained 22 cell managers so far, and productivity has increased significantly.

Matthew also found that his fellow students were a great source of both inspiration and knowledge. “I was in my early 20s and at the start of my career, but most of the people there already had a huge amount of experience in areas that ranged from aerospace engineering to carpet manufacturing. One had a factory making components for performance cars and was moving into the medical sector. Being able to learn from my colleagues’ experiences was a huge bonus,” he recalls.

With the course taking up Thursday evening and all day Friday at three-week intervals, Matthew was able to fit the studying around his other commitments relatively easily. Between these classroom-based sessions, students worked through the course material online at their own pace. Matthew says he still finds much of the course material useful and regularly dips into it for inspiration and ideas.

His career isn’t the only thing to have taken off since studying the course. He’s now the proud, if somewhat busy father of two-year-old triplets. “It would be a bit more difficult for me to do the course right now,” he laughs. “I’m sure Siemens would still support me, but my wife might have other ideas!”