Jan Ward |
Building a Global Engineering Company

Jan Ward is the Founder and CEO of Corrotherm International Ltd, a leading supplier of nickel alloys to the energy sector, with offices in UK, UAE, India, South Africa , Saudi Arabia , Australia, China and S Korea.

She is a Non-Executive Director at a number of companies, including The Energy Industries Council and Red Penguin Associates Ltd. She is a Director at the Saudi Joint British Business Council.

Jan has won a number of awards over the years for her contributions to business, including a CBE for services to business in 2015, Natwest Business woman of the year 2009, and the IOD and South East Global Director of the year 2014.

Jan Ward

In This Episode, We Cover:

  • Jan’s first venture into business (a sandwich shop)
  • The stigma towards women in engineering in the 1980’s
  • Developing a skill set in an existing business before setting up
  • Setting up Corrotherm, a global specialised steel manufacturer
  • Doing business in the Middle East in the 90’s and 00’s
  • The importance of continuous innovation and value engineering
  • Collaborative leadership
  • The role of Non-Executive Directors in Business
  • And much more!

Enjoy this episode with Jan Ward!

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Selected Show Notes

  • Jan Ward’s very first venture into business — selling sandwiches! — [1:15].
  • Jan’s move into and motive behind studying International Trade — [5:00].
  • Her move into exporting and her realisation of her love for the technical side of the job — [7:00].
  • Deciding to take engineering qualifications and then staying in employment for 15 years — [7:40].
  • The stigma towards a woman in engineering in that time and how Jan dealt with it — [8:35].
  • One attitude that’s very important to progress in business — [10:25].
  • The benefits of working in a business environment before setting up your own business — [11:00].
  • Advice for young people looking to start a business without any experience — [11:40].
  • On the dangers of developing products without getting feedback from customers — [16:10].
  • Jan Ward setting up Corrotherm — [18:50].
  • Being the first woman on the board of a Chamber of Commerce — [21:10].
  • Building a business in engineering with no up front capital — [21:45].
  • Doing business in the Middle East 20+ years ago and why it’s harder to do so today — [24:30].
  • Developing Corrotherm from one woman in a derelict office to a 50 person multi-country company — [27:30].
  • Motivations for setting up Corrotherm — [29:00].
  • The values Jan Ward looks for in people when hiring — [31:00].
  • Hustle and making things happen to get Corrotherm up and running — [33:00].
  • Managing fast organic growth (growing through cash flow) — [35:25].
  • Developing team members and herself as her company grew — [39:00].
  • Why it’s important not to micromanage — [42:00].
  • How culture affects performance — [42:30].
  • On living for 5 years in the Middle East whilst growing Corrotherm — [45:00].
  • Why Corrotherm has survived and thrived over 25+ years where other companies have failed (cash, don’t overstretch, quality) — [48:30].
  • What is and the importance of Value Engineering? — [51:10].
  • On the importance of always innovating new products — [53:10].
  • The problem with patents — [54:10].
  • Why innovation is not just about products, it’s in everything you do — [55:10].
  • How you hire and company culture. Who you hire fundamentally shapes culture — [1:00:00].
  • On the importance of hiring people with different skill sets to you — don’t fall foul to cognitive biases — [1:1:40].
  • Self awareness, defining leadership and leadership in business — [1:5:00].
  • Leadership as a collaborative exercise — [1:8:40].
  • Leadership role models, the fallibility of humans, and the dangers of idolising someone — [1:10:00].
  • A film that Jan Ward recommends for business — [1:13:15].
  • Mental models and decision making tools in business — [1:14:20].
  • The role of a Non-Executive Director in business in both small and big businesses — [1:20:30].
  • The skills and context you need to be an effective value generating NED — [1:23:00].
  • Why it’s important to get feedback as a NED or a Chair — always be improving — [1:25:40].
  • Jan Ward’s thoughts on the current education system in the UK and the need for schools to embrace people from industry to give career advice — [1:29:00].
  • On dealing with stress and working under pressure — [1:32:30].
  • Jan Ward’s hobbies outside of work — [1:33:30].
  • Advice Jan would give to herself prior to starting Corrotherm — [1:34:40].

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