Since 2016, Kloeckner Metals UK has been continually improving its digital offerings and launching new digital solutions that enable our customers to streamline their procurement process. We are using technology to help our customers access procurement solutions when they need to, quickly and efficiently. To further elevate our digital offerings, Helen Shaw joins the Kloeckner Senior Leadership Team as Head of Digital Transformation after serving 10 years with Kloeckner Metals UK in numerous roles of increasing seniority. Helen’s industry knowledge, vision, leadership and commitment to the success made her stand out at Klockner. Helen is renowned across the team for fostering a supportive culture amongst her team and taking great pride in her work. Read on for her full interview:
Tell us about your journey at Kloeckner
I started my career in the steel industry as a sales apprentice in 1997; I joined the Kloeckner Leeds retail business in December 2010 to lead a new business development team, with the objective of regaining local market share. I went on to join the Westok team in 2013, initially in a business development role. I was promoted, firstly to Sales Team Leader in 2014, and then to Sales and Estimating Manager in 2016. In April this year, I took the role as General Manager at our Biddulph, Stoke-on-Trent site, overseeing all commercial and operational functions, before being promoted to my current position as Head of Digital Transformation for Kloeckner Metals UK.
What has been the most challenging task during your career at Kloeckner
I think I’m currently facing it. Covid-19 has been a catalyst for digital transformation and has forced companies to accelerate and strengthen their digital strategies. The pressure is on to maintain our competitive advantage by continually differentiating ourselves and remaining the first movers towards digital transformation in the metal industry.
What are you most excited about in your new role
As a salesperson at heart, I’m really looking forward to developing a collaborative global network, but for me, the most exciting thing about this role is the prospect of identifying and developing new streams of work through our digital tools and investment in digitalisation.
Why is digitisation even more critical now than before for the metals industry
The metals industry continues to lag behind other industries, but as IT and AI technologies continue to advance, innovators and early adopters seize a competitive and sustainable advantage. Companies and industries that don’t evolve run the risk of falling behind or potentially no longer existing at all.
What was your experience in the Kloeckner’s Emerging Leaders Programme (ELP)
The ELP is a group-wide Kloeckner program designed to empower and develop our leaders of tomorrow, with a strong focus on digital transformation. The course covers all business management topics, including leadership skills, change management and agile work methods.
My ELP program was split into 3 modules over the duration of a year and held at Kloeckner branches in Duisburg, Atlanta and Berlin. For me, the experience has undoubtedly enhanced both my personal and career development. It provided me with the practical tools to manage change and drive effective leadership at a senior level with increased knowledge and confidence. It was hard work but also great fun, and I had the privilege of developing a network with some fantastic people along the way.
How do you see Kloeckner’s digital offering disrupting procurement
The digital tools which Kloeckner has created have the potential to create a more collaborative and transparent supply chain. We have the ability to improve efficiencies and reduce costs whilst providing a customer-centric responsive experience. As we continue to accelerate our digital transformation, B2B transactions will become increasingly automated, freeing up time for people to be more strategic and add value.
How do you think company culture affects digitisation strategy at Kloeckner?
Kloeckner and its digital development subsidiary, KCi promote an agile, transparent work culture, utilising methods such as design thinking, lean start-up and agile development to solve real problems. Prototyping, testing, failing fast and failing cheap for continuous improvement in a non-hierarchal culture, undoubtedly help to accelerate Kloeckner’s digital progress and success.
What do you enjoy outside of work
My partner and I have three daughters aged 22, 21 and 19 so they keep us entertained! My idea of heaven is remote camping with lots of coastal walks, campfires and a glass of red wine.