Interview Billy Kingsbury

Corona affects us all at thyssenkrupp and Materials Services. In interviews we show you how our colleagues in the many different geographical and business corners of MX are dealing with the situation in a personal way. #strongertogether

This time with us... Billy Kingsbury, Director of Commercial Metals and Processing, thyssenkrupp Materials UK

1. What concerns you most right now?

Ensuring that we are keeping our people as healthy and as safe as possible whilst continuing to be available to service the needs of our customers. This means keeping up to date with all government guidelines regarding to social distancing and hygiene practise. But it also means listening to the concerns of our employees and doing everything possible to allow them to continue working whilst staying safe and feeling safe.

2. What makes you most optimistic right now?

The excellent team spirit and collective effort displayed by all of our team at tkMUK, whether it is our operations team that has to continue to work in our production and warehouse sites or the sales people that have had to work from home. Every one of them has had to adapt to this unusual situation and they have faced every challenge with a positive attitude. I am personally really pleased to see this and it makes me confident that we can face and overcome any future challenges.

3. How do you maintain contact with your people?

One thing that we have learnt from this situation is that the use of video technology with apps such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams is extremely useful and has allowed us to stay in regular contact with all team members.

As a leadership team of tkMUK we stay in touch with a video call every morning to start the day and share our thoughts and ideas. I also have a video call with my wider team and colleagues every other day – this has really worked well and will definitely become part of our regular way of working in the future.

We are also sending regular updates to all of our employees via our we.care email address from which we have sent updates such as latest government advice on social distancing and also a guide to home working which was produced by our colleagues from OSH.

4. How do you keep in touch with your customers?

There are a variety of ways in which we are keeping in touch with customers at present: Our sales teams are organising regular video calls with customers in place of face-to-face meetings and last week I was involved in a meeting to discuss a new project with a customer that involved eight people from different departments. This is becoming the new normal and I believe that we will see a significant change in the way that we interact with customers in the future.

We are also in touch with our customers via regular newsletters sent to our customers giving updates on our latest measures and confirming that we remain open and able to provide the required levels of service.

Another way in which we have increased our customer contact is via Social Media. We have significantly increased our posts via Twitter and LinkedIn and have seen significant interest from customers.

5. What do you currently miss most?

From a professional perspective I miss the chance to meet with the employees and share ideas at all of our sites in the UK and also the chance to visit customers and learn more about how we can help them by seeing their processes.

From a personal perspective, I miss taking my son to football practice and day trips with my family.

6. What are you looking forward to most when the shutdown is over?

Professionally I am looking forward to continuing the development of tkMUK and in particular the exciting opportunities that we are working on with regards to our “Materials as a Service” concept.

Personally, as a huge fan of Liverpool football club I am looking forward to the football season (hopefully) continuing and to watch the team win the League title for the first time in 30 years!

7. How do you distract yourself?

I think it is very important to take some time to yourself at the moment and I do this in two ways: Firstly cycling using my Turbo Trainer device which uses video to allow me to pretend to be cycling all over the world – instead of the reality which is just in my garage.

I also have two children aged five and six which is definitely enough to keep anybody distracted!

8. What are you doing now that is different from before Corona? And do you want to keep it that way?

As I said earlier the use of video calls three to four times per day has become normal and has replaced both face-to-face meetings and also telephone calls. If this can continue then I think it will not only be more efficient than travelling to meetings but also much better for the global environment.

9. People say that in every crisis there is an opportunity. Right or wrong? And why is that?

I believe that there is always an opportunity that can arise from any crisis. I think a challenge such as the current situation allows us to review our processes and our business in general and assess which improvements are possible. For example at tkMUK we have learned that we must be more agile in our work and this will lead to a review over which roles can be offered more flexibility in the future with regards to flexible hours and the possibility to work from home.

This is also a great time to improve our relationships with our customers by working together to find solutions even in the most difficult of circumstances, a great example of this has been the material that we have supplied to produce ventilators and other essential medical equipment for the NHS in partnership with our customers.

10. During these extraordinary weeks, have you had experiences that you would like to share? What have you perhaps discovered anew?

The most fulfilling experience for me has been the way that our whole team at tkMUK has come together and proven that we are able to overcome adversity.

It has also been a very humbling experience to see the heroic work of all of the key workers in the UK particularly those in the NHS risking their health on a daily basis to help others fight this terrible virus.

11. What message do you want to send to the 20,000 employees of MX?

Firstly, I wish that all of my colleagues a MX stay safe and healthy during these times.

Then my message is that by working together we at MX can play an important part in the fight against Covid-19 and in rebuilding the global economy thereafter. If we can also implement some of the practices that we are using on a daily basis at the moment then maybe we can also help to reduce our carbon footprint and also make a difference to the global environment.

Let’s use this opportunity to define a new normal that is better for everybody!