Unprecedented with Mike Rose

Published 12th February 2021

At Unprecedented, we had the opportunity to talk to Mike Rose, MD Of P. Ducker Systems Ltd.

A background into you and your business?

I’m a 60-year-old chartered mechanical engineer, father and grandfather, with a background in power generation, oil and gas, defence and have travelled widely.

PDS are System Integrators, stitching technology together and turning the complex civil engineering works into a functional asset. We are known for work on the road tunnel systems on the Strategic Road Network Areas. We fulfil capital projects and provide 24/7/365 support keeping the critical assets open. Our employees are educated professionals dealing with complex issues, they work on critical national infrastructure to exacting processes and detailed specifications; and in pressured situations impacted by travel, unsocial hours and fatigue.

Define leadership and what being a leader means to you.

Leadership is about setting the direction and the vision, setting the agenda, taking responsibility, allowing your staff space to get on with their job. Working on the business, not in the business.

What would you like your Leadership Legacy to be

I step down from my leadership role in 6 working days. I hope (I believe) that I have led with professionalism, friendliness, a sense of humour, a hardworking “safe pair of hands” who gets it done and delivers and cares about people.

What impact has Covid-19 had on you?

It’s been a challenge, but one I believe that so far, I have handled it sensibly, properly, fairly, with consideration and compassion. I have also enjoyed the challenge and attending the office-less.

What impact has covid had on your business?

Where to start. Many of our staff are classed as critical workers, attending sites to keep critical infrastructure operational, and in the background keeping themselves and families safe. Our response had to be quick and responsive, e.g. throwing away the rule book on expenses as our engineers couldn’t find places open to eat; allocating single occupants to vehicles; installing internal screens in vehicles to allow multiple occupants for short journeys; subsequently and quickly removing some parts when they compromised driver vision.

We have derived extensive yet flexible office working protocols, enabling attendance by those whose tasks can only be carried out in the office, and also making room for occasional attendance by those predominantly working from home (something we have come to believe is necessary as some long term “work from home” staff have struggled with the isolation and inefficient team communications of continual working from home). Once again, we’ve had to quickly and dynamically consider our rules, e.g. we now prop our internal safety fire doors open during the day to minimise touch Covid points.

We’ve had workers isolate at home for the whole period and we have endeavoured to provide continuous support and updates. We have provided a weekly update to all staff keeping them informed.

At this point we have had 31 Covid “events” to manage, so 31 periods of isolation to adjust the logistics for. Subsequently, 3 have tested positive, thankfully none of which was transferred to other staff attending those days.

Through good fortune (or hard work?) We have had plenty of work to do, and we have been recruiting throughout, onboarding new people as quickly as practical.

What was your internal comms strategy at the start of lockdown? Has that changed?

Prior to lockdown, we had monthly team meetings, now we do weekly news updates. In the early days of lockdown it was crazy...emails, texts, teams messages, WhatsApp, phone calls all the time, it helped when we decided which method for what.

What were the 3 biggest (or best) decisions you have made in 2020? 

  1. To push forward with my exit plans

  2. Trusting my key staff to deliver, they have flourished.

  3. Family games night, takeaway night and movie night, helping them through the monotony.

How have you/your business evolved from a digital/tech perspective?

As a tech business, we already had the tech platform, we have now moved closer to our paperless office goal.

How have you (your business) coped from a mental health/stress perspective?

Throughout there have been heightened issues of wellbeing, our response has been stretched, we have managed some difficult situations and are now vastly more experienced.

At the beginning of 2020, we were in a talent short market. What is at the top of your "people strategy" agenda for 2021?

To pick the people with the right attitude, not the paper skills or experience.

Fast forward to 2050 .... what would you say to your future self...That you did well or badly in 2020 to learn from.

You did well and achieved a lot. You worried too much. It will all work out ok. Enjoy the journey.

As a Leadership Team, how have you re-defined your vision and values? What have you done to make your culture remote-work friendly?

It has helped to focus on our company values, #1 being Safety and Sustainability, which we have interpreted to apply to both our business and our staff. We have endeavoured and managed to safety sustain our delivery throughout, thus achieving continued cash flow and financial security to our staff. We have shared lots of updates and news and made sure we talk to my team most days.

If you’ve found the story of how the Covid-19 pandemic impacted Mike Rose and P. Ducker Systems Ltd interesting, connect with him on LinkedIn to keep up to date.

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