Winner Citations: Introducing your 2017 winners

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February 2, 2017

Winner Citations: Introducing your 2017 winners


Sophie Hawman

A third-year Design and Artwork Apprentice with GSK, Sophie is fully committed to her apprenticeship programme and has demonstrated a strong work ethic and can-do attitude to all that she undertakes – and it’s a lot! Sophie has excelled in her training programme, learning all aspects of artwork packaging and graphic design for leaflets, cartons and tubes – gaining distinctions in a Diploma in Art and Design and Extended Diploma, as well as C&G Computer Aided Design.

Passionate about apprenticeship programmes and promoting the benefits, Sophie’s role as Careers Co-ordinator keeps her very busy indeed – organising fairs and liaising with managers, apprentices, schools and human resources to ensure the promotion of GSK apprenticeships and boosting attendance in the process. Sophie recently undertook a project to improve GSK’s apprenticeship recruitment material. She devised the project and arranged her own work experience placement in London alongside the Early Talent Team – creating a fresh, eye- catching and informative careers pack that was sent out to 11 GSK sites across the UK.

And her involvement doesn’t stop there. She has helped to develop an Internship programme with a local school; supported the Big Bang event; delivered 15 presentations to schools;
is involved in the Women in Engineering project and her work as a STEM Ambassador saw her receive a Global Recognition Award. The GSK Apprenticeship Scheme was the overall winner of the GMS Presidents Awards in 2016 and there is little doubt that Sophie played a significant part in this success!

Harvey Smith

Having enrolled as an instrumentation apprentice with TTE at 16, Harvey succeeded in securing sponsorship with Lotte Chemical UK. Under their supervision, Harvey completed the first two years of his apprenticeship, whilst also studying a BTEC Level 3 in Ops and Maintenance Engineering and grabbing a double distinction in the process. To hone his skills as an instrumentation apprentice full time site work commenced – working first-hand with experienced tradesman on the M5 and LC1 plants and carrying out both ongoing and preventative maintenance.

Dedicated to his studies, Harvey completed an NVQ two months ahead of schedule and, in addition to working on two plants, enrolled on a HNC course in Instrument & Control that he went onto complete top of the class and gained an overall distinction grade. Described by the team as organised and diligent, Harvey’s commitment to the industry goes over and above, as he promotes science- based careers as a SIP Ambassador and work to raise aspirations and opportunities through his involvement with the High Tide Foundation.

Alex Bottomley

Following the completion of his A-levels, Alex opted for an Electrical Apprenticeship with Thornaby-based K Home International. Alex has continually demonstrated an enthusiastic and proactive approach to his work, become an internal expert on electrical design packages and firmly established himself as a key member of the electrical department. During his time with K Home, Alex has worked on a diverse number of projects for clients including Huntsman Tioxide, Aggregate Industries, Yara and York Potash to name but a few. Alex’s experience extends to a top tier COMAH site where he assisted with installation and pre-commissioning of electrical equipment for a new chlorinator.

More recently, Alex worked on a UK-based nuclear plant project, where he was responsible for the overall design including everything from lighting calculations, layout drawings, single line diagrams, cable calculations through to risk assessments and schedules – this involved working closely with the client to ensure delivery to a tight deadline and to extremely exacting standards. In addition to his responsibilities in the electrical department, Alex is an active STEM Ambassador and member of the Young Generation Nuclear, which involves working with schools and training providers to enthuse young people about science, technology, engineering and maths. Academically, Alex successfully completed his apprenticeship during 2016 and achieved a HNC qualification in Electrical Engineering. He has since secured a place on a degree level electrical and electronic engineering course. Alex’s long-term goal is to become a chartered professional engineer.


Gemma Kitson

With a huge interest in all aspects of biology, a career in the biotechnology industry has always been at the fore of this Young Achiever’s mind – a notion that was further cemented by an early
placement at Genetix Ltd. In 2012, Gemma enrolled at Newcastle University and biotechnology, cell and molecular biology and genetics modules all proved fascinating, whilst weekly lab sessions allowed her time to gain vital skills such as aseptic technique, PCR and electrophoresis.

Keen to gain further industry experience, Gemma undertook a summer and weekend placement with Network Medical and later went onto successfully apply for a research scholarship with the University’s Federation for Animal Welfare – research that led to the production of a journal article for UFAW and published in Applied Animal Behaviour. Gemma graduated in 2015 with a First Class Honours Degree in Biology and awarded the W.H. Young and Helena Clark prize for outstanding achievement.

Joining Wilton-based Absolute Antibody in July 2015, Gemma is responsible for processes including chromatography and quality assurance and supports the business as production grows and scale up implemented. Gemma’s dedication to her chosen career and sheer determination to arm herself with both the academic skills and industrial experience required makes her a very worthy Young Achiever winner indeed.

Alexandra Marshall

This Young Achiever’s career started in 2007 when she joined INEOS Compounds as a laboratory technician as part of a 3-year apprenticeship in Lab and Associated Technical Activities.In 2010, and having completed her apprenticeship, Alexandra successfully secured a technician role within the quality assurance Laboratory at INEOS Nitriles and within a year, was a fully trained and validated member of the team. Passionate about furthering her education, Alexandra embarked on a self-funded, two-year foundation degree in Scientific and Investigative Methods. Following an additional two years’ study, she went onto successfully complete a BSc Honours in Laboratory Management and graduated top of the class.

During this time, Alexandra designed a programme to test the stability and reactivity of acrylonitrile – the result of which allowed INEOS Nitriles to improve its business model within the logistics supply chain without compromising on safety and proving financially beneficial in the process. Alexandra further supports the business as part of the Behavioural Based Safety (BBS) initiative core team, working to improve performance by promoting critical safety behaviours. Promoted to Laboratory Co-ordinator and more recently Laboratory Supervisor in 2016, her current role entails managing all aspects of the QA Laboratory, including a team of nine analysts and four technicians. Alexandra has her sights firmly set on a laboratory manager’s role within the next three years.

Reuben McNaughten

Reuben’s process engineering career began with studies in Mechanical Engineering at Queens University Belfast – a position secured via scholarship due to exemplary A-level results. Understanding the requirement for practical skills, Reuben ensured his studies included an industrial placement year and, with a firm interest in pharmaceutical production, secured a project engineering position within GSK at Barnard Castle. Having joined GSK full time in 2012, Reuben started a second MSc degree course in Process Systems at Cranfield University and graduated within 3 years whilst working at GSK. His academic achievements allowed for an early Chartership application, which saw Reuben receive IMechE chartered engineer status in March 2016.

In his current role as process project engineer, Reuben has completed many projects on site but is currently lead process engineer on a new medicines project to treat HIV. Functioning as a long acting injectable medicine, milling to nano particle sizes was required. This involved a redesign of paint milling machines to meet the needs of sterile products – a Clean in Place, Sterilise in Place system. One mill has now been installed and validated to produce clinical trial batches, with a view to supply registration batches by 2018. The wider team working on the project has recently been cited “Highly Commended” by the President of Global Manufacturing Supply at GSK in the Awards list during 2016 and Reuben cities this as his biggest career achievement to date.

Stefano Ceci

Having studied at the University of Birmingham, Stefano obtained a 1st Class Masters in Chemical Engineering in 2012 and went on to join Johnson Matthey’s Graduate Programme based
at Billingham. Stefano’s job roles have spanned different areas of chemical engineering across Johnson Matthey; all of which have provided numerous skills to help him function as an effective engineer.

Key professional achievements to date include project management of the installation of new technology worth £500,000 for Johnson Matthey’s research group and the development of a customer technical agreement worth £20 million. External to his core engineering work environment, Stefano is an active member of the chemical industry. Within Johnson Matthey, he has developed a graduate community scheme and works as an Industrial Placement Programme mentor. Externally, Stefano is the treasurer of the Teesside Institution of Chemical Engineers,
a STEM Ambassador and supports Newcastle University students and the Princes Trust.

Stefano is the current holder of the Chemical Industries Association Young Ambassadors Award – a position he will hold until Autumn 2017. During his tenure, he will chair a committee of CIA finalists, helping to organise events and initiatives, such as a collaborative effort to run a project for future industry leaders here in the North East. Continually striving to develop further, Stefano plans to build upon a solid base in engineering and achieve senior engineer status with Johnson Matthey and gain Chartered status via IChemE.

Michael Cummins

Michael joined Falck Fire Services in 2010 on an industrial placement as part of his Civil Engineering and Disaster Management Degree. His talent and potential was immediately obvious to the senior management team, leading them to work with Teesside University to recruit Michael, whilst ensuring he could complete his studies. Michael joined the company during his placement and went on to gain his degree with 1st Class Honours in 2013, whilst making many significant improvements to internal processes and products at Falck.

Michael developed through several technical roles and rapidly became the go to expert in fire engineering and incident management pre-planning. He is at the forefront of Falck’s development work, with many of the processes driven by him now seen as best practice in industry and adopted in many chemical hubs across the UK. Cited by his senior management team ‘as developing faster than anyone in the organisation’s history’, Michael secured his MiFIRE accreditation in 2015 and in 2016 completed 3.5 years of his fire engineering degree, before aligning development to complete his Masters of Engineering and achieve Chartership in 2017. Michael is an absolute testimony of what a young person can achieve by applying the right type of ethics, hard work, personal development and customer interaction.


St. Oswald’s Church of England Primary School

St. Oswald’s Primary School boosts a fantastic nature garden area with great potential but unfortunately, without dedicated funding, this resource fell into disrepair. To address the situation, the entire school came off timetable and got their heads together to devise a plan to transform this unused, now unloved area into the new ‘St. Oswald’s Wildlife Garden’. Initial thoughts were shared during an assembly and the disused nature garden opened to all, before the children started planning within their year groups.

Together, they created videos about the things they’d like in their new garden; designed campaign posters; discussed the garden’s impact on the environment; created aerial view drawings;
3D models and drafted lobbying letters and project plans. The atmosphere in school that day was described as ‘electric’. For the children, their focus is to encourage as much wildlife as possible using bird boxes, feeding tables and baths. Habitats will also be created to encourage other wildlife such as squirrels, hedgehogs and bats – and for the mini-beasts, a bug hotel of course! A viewing lookout will also be created so that the children can watch without disturbing their new residents.

Each year group will take it in turn to keep the area in tip top condition and parents and locals with an interest in all things wildlife will be invited onto site, during school holidays, to support larger maintenance work. An environmentally friendly, outdoor learning resource project developed, managed and ultimately enjoyed by the children; is a project very much worthy of the 2017 BOC North
East Primary School Environmental Award.

Fine Environmental Services

Safe, and what is just as important, environmentally secure disposal of hazardous industrial waste has for many years been a growing problem for the sector. To tackle this issue and seize on a business opportunity, Fine Environmental Services, part of the Fine Industries Group based at Seal Sands, has upgraded an obsolete incinerator asset enabling industry customers to have a new, secure and compliant hazardous disposal route. Balancing of customer wastes, to ensure maximum advantage is being taken from those with high calorific value, has enabled the company to minimise the natural gas fuel that is used to maintain the combustion chamber At 1100 degrees Celsius.

The equipment used has been reengineered to be state of the art with improvements such as fuel stream composition and flow rate management (to give better combustion efficiency), increased cooling capability, technology leading refractory lining and improved environmental abatement. This, coupled with enhanced operator training, has ensured regulatory compliance even for particularly difficult wastes such as fuming halogen waste streams. Fine Environmental Services is now working with its customer base to better balance waste streams, using their storage and blending facilities to improve homogeneity within the feedstock supply and thereby gaining higher thermal and operational efficiencies. This facility is now delivering significant value to Fine Industries and the regional and UK businesses it serves.


WINNER: SABIC UK Petrochemicals

The cost of European petrochemical manufacture has been challenging for many years. Most recently, the shale gas revolution in the USA has not only brought its challenges, for SABIC, brought a new opportunity to increase the competitiveness of its Teesside operations. Lower cost chemical production in its facilities has been underpinned by a strategic move for the European market by conversion of the Wilton Cracker to broaden its feedstock to take naptha, ethane, propane and condensates as feedstock. This move will make the Teesside cracker the most flexible in the world and more able to adjust to volatile oil and gas prices.

SABIC’s investment includes a new ethane terminal, including Europe’s largest cryogenic ethane tank, providing the logistical capacity needed. At the same time, extended life engineering of crucial infrastructure will ensure the long-term reliability and safety in its operations. In addition to this huge investment project that will effectively rejuvenate the petrochemical industry of the UK, during 2016 SABIC was recognised nationally by awarding bodies for its dedication to continuous improvement, including CIA Company of the Year; CIA Process Safety Leadership Award; Cogent Gold Standard; Top Employer of the Year; NEPIC Apprentice of the Year and the Better Health at Work Award.

As a global company, SABIC understands the importance of aligning its values, standards and processes to ensure excellence in every place it operates. With SHEMS (Safety, Health and Environment Management Standards) at the heart of its business, the new standards it has set are intended to revolutionise the business’s global operations. SABIC has a huge impact on the local supply chain with £355m being spent on goods and services, in addition to £45m in employment costs. The growth of the company locally is seen by the increase of products shipped from 1.65m to
2.01m Tonnes per annum, with capital spend in that time increasing from £116m to £235m. SABIC’s innovative approach to securing feedstock supplies, rejuvenation and growth of their business and continued strong corporate social responsibility activities make this company a worthy winner of the 2017 Manufacturer of the Year Award.


WINNER: Exwold Technology Ltd

With four manufacturing sites in the North East, Exwold is a business built on strong customer relationships, technical know-how & an ambition to develop and grow. Started in 1993, Exwold
is no longer the new kid on the block but over the last 4 years has been rejuvenated, resulting in a doubling of revenue and employees. In the last financial year alone, the company turnover grew by an impressive 15%, reaching sales of more than £7.5 million – growth driven by developing new business and nurturing existing business. The strength of the business has led to a significant increase in the workforce and the company now employs approximately 100 people – a 35% increase in head count that includes two apprentices and former SSI-employees.

Operationally, the increase in business has driven extensive changes, including the purchase of the Haverton Hill site. A major installation was undertaken in transferring the mill from Toft’s Farm to Haverton Hill and a new 7-day shift pattern was introduced to increase capacity in-line with growing demands, which led to the workforce doubling at this site. A further £3 million investment took place at Toft’s Farm plant to convert manufacture to a Non-Herbicide WDG manufacturing unit – utilising local suppliers in construction and fabrication. Furthermore, a new warehouse was constructed at Brenda Road to ensure the increased volumes of raw materials and products could be accommodated.

For 2017, there is no plan to stand still with the introduction of four new products confirmed for quarter one, with products produced being shipped to new markets worldwide including Brazil, China & the Middle East. Further workforce and infrastructure expansion plans are also under way. Ambitious product development, a true understanding of customer needs and a commitment to its assets and people, make Exwold a very worthy winner of the Manufacturing SME of the Year Award 2017.


WINNER: Tomlinson Hall & Co. Ltd

Billingham-based Tomlinson Hall & Co. Ltd is a specialist pump distributer and manufacturer. The company is an approved global distributor for many industrial pump brands and works with a range of major manufacturers. 2016 has been a highly successful year for the firm. Sales of the innovative liquid ring vacuum pump, Liquivac, which was developed by Tomlinson Hall and manufactured at its Billingham site, grew by a staggering 51%. They also secured a distribution deal for Liquivac in Scandinavia – enabling them to gain greater market penetration in chemical plants, pulp and paper mills, petrochemical facilities and the energy sector. Liquivac also gained further market prominence in the UK’s distilleries sector and in the Middle East’s desalination industry. In addition, the firm successfully built up sales for several key global pump brands including Richter (10%) and CRANE ChemPharma Flow Solutions (12%). Sales of engineering supplies increased by 12% and the total order book up 10% on 2015. Labour sales saw a 48% rise and service centre activity increased by 30%.

2016 also saw Tomlinson Hall chosen by Denmark- headquartered Grundfos to become a global partner in its Industry Partner initiative – making them one of only 40 partner companies in the world identified by Grundfos to have the necessary qualifications and capabilities to carry and promote the company’s brand ethos, and commitment to innovative pump technology and energy saving solutions. Five time winners of the UK Pump Distributor of the Year Award, Tomlinson Hall is highly committed to its clients, partners, staff and the local community – a culmination of which has resulted in a truly remarkable 2016 and making them worthy winners of the Supply Chain SME of the Year Award 2017.


WINNER: David Hodgson of Sterling Pharma Solutions

39 years of commitment to public engagement on behalf of the sector by this year’s winner is certainly an outstanding contribution. A Chemical Engineering honours degree graduate from Newcastle University and a career that started in operations health and safety and management of a major hazards plant gave our winner a good grounding to be ultimately appointed HSE Director. Working locally, nationally and internationally to help manage and deliver safe working practices at all organisational levels has given this outstanding achiever an international profile and recognition from professional bodies and includes 10 Chemical Industry Association safety awards – three of which were Gold and one Diamond Award. His team also picked up the 2016 NEPIC-BOC Industrial
Environmental Award.

Whilst delivering his professional expertise to his employer, our award winner has in parallel been devoted to supporting the Industry and its professional bodies. This includes the mentoring of young chemical engineers and scientists, who have also been encouraged to take up positions on local school governor boards. He has developed a local safety advisor group and been prominent in the CIA’s Speak Out and Listen campaign and in doing this, served 11 years on the CIA National Responsible Care Strategy Board.

His engagement in the community has delivered strong links to local education where, amongst other activities, he has delivered numerous career events. He has focused on the development
of future leaders for the industry, including a 23-year relationship with King’s School – 12 years of which he has spent as a Governor. He has also worked to promote STEM subjects through a regional Science Partnership and supported the creation of a pioneering educational trust and the formation of a new STEM Academy.

As a sector, we are fortunate to have such committed individuals. The breadth, energy and significance of our 2017 Outstanding Contribution Winner’s input to the sector across four decades makes him a truly outstanding winner of for this award.


Daniel Gottschald

Daniel graduated in European Business Sciences at the Universities of Bamberg, Germany, and Jyväskylä, Finland. Between 2006 and 2009 he was responsible for regional cluster development at Northern Hesse’s regional development agency and led the international development of the regional competence network for distributed power generation.

From 2009 to 2016, Daniel was Managing Director of the Bavarian chemical cluster – Chemie Cluster Bayern (CCB). At that time, he was appointed President of the Cluster Excellence Expert Group by the European Commission and Chairman of the Project Council of the European Chemical Regions’ Network.

Whilst working at CCB and the European Chemical Region’s Network, Daniel became well known to NEPIC in aiding the delivery of the European Wiintech and Sharebox projects, whilst at the same time seeking to exploit the synergies between our respective cluster organisations. This is best reflected in the setting up of joint innovation programmes in both China and India.

In January 2016, Daniel became the new Managing Director of TUM International GmbH, a 100% subsidiary of Technical University Munich. TUM International coordinates the development of more than 30 industrial sites and international production clusters worldwide – building up and operating international universities and campus sites. Daniel maintains a highly proactive dialogue with NEPIC to help identify collaborative projects and opportunities for our cluster and its members, and he is a regular attendee at NEPIC events.

Daniel is currently Director of the Siemens Centre of Knowledge Interchange (CKI) at TUM and Managing Director of Cluster City GmbH, a joint venture between TUM international and
Euro Sino Invest, operating global cluster hubs.

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