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Learn Something New Every Day

In her first blog of 2016, Sarah Spivey, the managing director of Modulift, explains why the most successful people never stop educating themselves—or their staff.

We start 2016 in a challenging business climate. This time last year there was broad optimism among fellow company leaders in the lifting industry, a positivity that was shared by many financial forecasters and business commentators. We weren’t viewing the world through rose-coloured spectacles; the indicators were pointing to a prosperous year. That quickly changed.

I reflect to make the point, certain things will always be beyond your control. Many a great thought leader will tell you not to worry about what you can’t control, rather what you can. The factors that influence an economy and industry can be like Mother Nature; you can’t control them and they have no mercy. What can be controlled however is a business’s ability to weather a storm or thrive in a challenging marketplace. That usually comes down to the dynamism, tenacity and savvy of the individuals within it.

Personal development

I’ve blogged about diversification before and I will allude to the importance of it again, outlining how that will manifest itself as Modulift diversifies further throughout the year, but I want to lead on personal development. Qualifications and a person’s abilities are most commonly referenced during recruitment processes and by those in the early throes of their careers, but it is equally important for C-level professionals, company owners and directors to constantly add to their skill-sets.

It’s no coincidence that the more inspirational, dynamic, successful business owners and senior managers I have met are the ones who are prepared to learn something new every day, often embracing courses, seminars and other educational opportunities. On the other hand, the more aloof top brass who believe they are beyond such enlightenment can be found wanting in terms of their ability to diversify when the going gets tough. This is particularly true if they attempt to apply old sciences to new challenges.

Credibility often comes through leading by example, which is why I will this week start the Chartered Director Programme at the Institute of Directors, an independent association of business leaders. The course covers a variety of subject matter, from strategic and tactical ways to establish and sustain growth, to business leadership and sound corporate governance. I know of peers who would scoff at the idea of devoting so much time to extracurricular activity but I believe my business will be better off for the experience.

Business leaders should actively encourage their staff to embark on such voyages of learning and discovery. It is common practice at Modulift to assess the careers of personnel and look at courses and seminars with a view to filling a gap in their learning or enhancing further an already impressive understanding of a subject matter. An engineer doesn’t always need to know more about nuts and bolts, while an accountant is probably already a wizard in Excel, but it is amazing what education can be applied to a role with a bit of thinking outside the box.

Able deputy

Last month, our senior design engineer Anthony Culshaw guest blogged on this page in my absence. I want to take an opportunity to thank Anthony for his professionalism in taking on the challenge and producing a piece of content marketing that added tremendous value to our readers. Many wouldn’t have grasped the concept but when I read in his opening paragraph, “I aim to provide an educational angle that gives the audience (or reader) valuable information,” I knew it was going to turn out well. I thoroughly enjoyed his first blog, particularly his comments on young professionals, and wouldn’t hesitate to hand him the reins (or pen) again.

Anthony went on to talk about two product launches that made 2015 memorable: the Trunnion spreader beam, offering lifting professionals an efficient, lightweight and economic below-the-hook solution; and our new It brings me neatly onto my next point about the role of new products in a diversifying business. As Anthony explained, these products were the result of months of research and development before prototypes were even manufactured. At some point, everyone in the company was involved and many remain so as the products are applied in industry.

You have to choose the direction of your product portfolio carefully. This is the first time readers of this blog will hear this: we will launch four new products throughout the year, each with diversification in mind as we look to fuel growth outside of the oil and gas industry, even though we continue to get many enquiries for heavy lift below-the-hook solutions from the struggling sector. One can imagine the extent of this undertaking but we have a strong plan in place with strategic launches planned at targeted events.

I will certainly be networking with leaders and fellow participants at the Chartered Director Programme to pick up any information or knowledge that might give us a further edge as these products are put to market through our distribution network. It’s remarkable how many sectors in manufacturing and beyond are sharing the same experiences.

Promoting our portfolio and gaining market intelligence takes on increased significance as a business explores new markets and opportunities. I’d urge companies to consider carefully how they tackle trade shows and events with that in mind. Anthony and I will attend industry conferences together this year, for example, combining our visions and expertise to best leverage opportunities. At other events, the marketing team and regional representatives will be present.

Thank you for reading my first blog of the year as content marketing continues to play a key role in our communication strategy. Regular press releases and daily Tweets are other ways we communicate. Follow @ModuliftUK and use the hashtag #belowthehook to engage with us.

You can see the blog archive at

Sarah Spivey
Managing Director
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