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Managing Director Celebrates a Fantastic First Year

Appointed as our Managing Director (MD) in March 2021, Craig Smith has now been in the post for just over a year. To mark the occasion and in celebration of the successes from his first 12 months, we spoke to Craig about his new role and what’s in store for Rolton Group’s future.

What has your first year as MD been like? Is it what you expected?

“The first year has been really exciting. I see this as the start of a new journey, not just for me personally but for the business too. It’ll be brilliant to see the goals in our refreshed business plan become reality over the coming months and years as we continue to strengthen our service lines to support our people and our clients.

“I don’t know what I expected exactly but as MD, the primary function is problem solving. Thankfully, that’s me in my element - as an engineer through and through, I thoroughly enjoy solving complex challenges.

“It’s also really rewarding on a personal note to have made it to this position. When I look back 10 or 15 years, I had an aspiration to be a business leader, so it’s nice to see commitment and hard work pay off. If you have a goal and enough determination, you can get there.

“It’s been a huge learning curve but a good first year and there’s still a lot to look forward to.”

What have been your highlights so far?

“Where do I start – the are so many! Growing the service lines is a big one, with colleagues strengthening our business in lots of ways. Employing our first dedicated Head of Client Sales, our Non-Executive Director (who provides an invaluable fresh pair of eyes for our business strategy and operations), our first colleagues joining us in our newly established North East regional team, and a total of 28 new colleagues appointed throughout my first year as MD (including four new faces strengthening the Senior Management Team (SMT)).

“Opening our first central Birmingham office (Colmore Row) was definitely a highlight too. Birmingham is the 2nd largest city in the UK and Colmore Row is the place to be for real estate. Part of our strategy to deliver future growth is to make sure that we are a part of it, so this was a great step forward for that goal.

“We also committed to providing all colleagues across the business with a home working option with additional flexible wellbeing days and established a remuneration committee to help ensure everyone across the business is getting a fair deal. Our partnership with Northumbria University strengthened as well, as we announced a new scholarship programme to support females from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds interested in studying engineering with no commitment to work for us at the end, but with the intent solely to support diversity and growth of talent in our industry.

“There have, of course, also been some brilliant projects undertaken by the team and that’s always a tremendous source of pride. Seeing our engineers involved on schemes like the award-winning Theatre Royal, Drury Lane refurbishment, the £60million extension and reconfiguration of Queensgate Shopping centre (Peterborough), and the UK’s first Gigaplant which is now onsite for construction for Britishvolt following the single largest geotechnical site investigation this business has undertaken to date, is fantastic and testament to the hard work and dedication of our whole team.”

What inspires you and keeps you motivated?

“Success! Wanting success for the business and for the team. This business has given me so much in the last 20 years – I wouldn’t be here without the support of the Rolton Group team. The business has so much latent potential and my role as MD is a great opportunity to give something back by taking our business to the next level. I want Rolton Group to be a company that people are proud to work for and with.

“Seeing improvement and some of the impressive projects that we’re trusted with, is inspiring. As a business, we’ve been going for over 40 years. To continue for the next 40, we need to evolve and continually improve. In 40 years, I want to be able to look back and feel as proud as we do now of the journey we’ve taken and the work that we do.”

What does the year ahead look like for Rolton Group?

“The next year for Rolton Group is about growth and seizing the opportunities available to us. We’re currently completing our first year of our refreshed (and ambitious) business plan and it’ll be interesting to see by the end of our 2021/22 financial year how we’ve progressed against the objectives we set and what we may have achieved that we weren’t expecting to.

“As we continue to grow as a business and team, integrating new colleagues (and members of the SMT) is vital and it’ll be interesting to see what new, and importantly, fresh ideas and possibilities arise from that. There are plans for growth across all of our in-house service lines and I want to see everyone making the most of the opportunities presented by our capability, experience and connections gained from work on projects of national significance and within target market sectors.

“We’re also in the process of finding a more permanent base for our newly established North East regional team… watch this space!”

Any advice for others transitioning to senior leadership roles?

“One of the main things is not to lose the ethos or work ethic that got you to where you are. The process of engineering is similar to management – you have to plan, form a strategy and then implement. Whether managing a service line, a project or a business, the same rules apply and there are tons of transferable skills that you will already have.

“I’d also advise people not to lose the personal touch but be aware that there is a commercial aspect, too. There’s a competitive nature to senior leadership positions, a want to always do better, probably fuelled by the responsibility accountability and measurability that comes with that level of appointment. Your actions and decisions directly impact the lives of your colleagues. You are accountable to them and responsible for their livelihoods – both in terms of bringing revenue in the door to keep them employed but also in creating an enjoyable and fulfilling environment in which to work. In senior leadership, you are growing the business, supporting your colleagues technically, looking after your team, and thinking more than ever before about the stability and legacy of your organisation.”

This year, Rolton Group enters it’s 42nd year in business, with four office locations across the Midlands and East Anglia and Geotechnical, Civil, Structural, Mechanical & Electrical (MEP) and Strategy Energy service lines in-house. Annual turnover for Rolton Group in 2020/21 increased 22% in comparison to 2019/20 and with big plans for the future, we’re all excited to see the team grow and flourish.

Thank you, Craig - here’s to many more excellent years and more reasons for us all to celebrate!