The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has announced the appointment of Paul Heard as the new chief executive of SMMT Industry Forum, the automotive industry’s productivity improvement and training business.
Heard, who was formerly president of automotive Tier 1 supplier Futaba UK for many years, takes over from Dr. Chris Owen, who is stepping down to pursue new challenges after eight years of successful leadership of the company.
With more than 20 years of working in management and consultancy roles at companies, including EV Cargo, QT Consulting, Futaba subsidiaries and Tenneco Automotive, Heard has a track record of leading multi-million pound businesses within complex supply chain ecosystems and a wealth of experience delivering successful business transformation programs across multiple sectors.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said, “I’d like to welcome Paul to SMMT and to Industry Forum. We are going to make full use of his consultancy expertise and extensive experience in key industries. He brings many strengths to the role, in leadership, financial acumen and in-depth manufacturing and process knowledge working in multi-national environments, and he will be the lynchpin for many new initiatives to help even more companies meet their growth potential.
“I would also like to thank Chris for his dedication and many successes, not least his tireless work on the Automotive Council, helping deliver millions of pounds of funding to boost supply chain competitiveness via schemes including the Long Term Automotive Supply Chain Competitiveness and National Manufacturing Competitiveness Levels programs. On top of that, his implementation of a refined business model for Industry Forum has delivered outstanding progress for the company and industries it supports.”
Heard added, “I’m excited to be joining Industry Forum and look forward to building on the great work of Chris and the team. Of course, this is a testing time for British business, but I believe that we are well-placed to deliver even greater support and competitiveness to the many world-class engineering-led industries we have in this country. I am relishing the challenge ahead.”
Heard officially starts his new role on June 1, and will work closely with Dr. Owen, who will remain at Industry Forum on a part-time basis until August to ensure a seamless handover of leadership and transition for the company and its customers.
Industry Forum was established by SMMT, vehicle manufacturers and government to improve the competitiveness of U.K. manufacturing. It has more than 150 cross-sector industry specialists and is active in 30 countries. Over the past 20 years, it has delivered more than 400 competitiveness and productivity programs and trained more than 25,000 people.
Most recently, Industry Forum has been helping deliver the government-funded National Manufacturing Competitiveness Levels (NMCL) package, with £16 million for automotive programs and a further £10 million for aerospace, created to help manufacturers of all sizes and stages of development understand how competitive they currently are and develop the specific business capabilities they need to boost their performance. Its predecessor, the £13 million Long Term Automotive Supply Chain Competitiveness (LTASC) program, leveraged £41 million in private investment over four years, creating and safeguarding some 3,200 jobs across the supply chain.