Joining SMI During the Pandemic
SMI designs and manufactures pressure moulded cable systems for critical infrastructures across a number of sectors. SMI have welcomed Jo Burke and Nick Abbott to the team during lockdown, they have taken time out to describe what it was like to join the business.
The Ministry of Defence identified SMI personnel as key workers early in the Coronavirus outbreak and SMI have manufactured continuously throughout the crisis. Jo Burke and Nick Abbott describe what it was like to join SMI in these most unusual circumstances.
Jo joined the SMI sales team at the end of January:
“I began working for SMI, approximately 8 weeks prior to the COVID-19 lockdown, how fortunate, to have this time to meet the team, see the office and factory and begin the journey of understanding SMI’s product offering and to meet some of our clients.
My role as Business Development Manager is a remote role so I am accustomed to home working, however, not visiting the office or meeting customers to introduce myself and understand their business needs was challenging in the early days of lockdown. Fortunately, I found SMI is technically enabled to support collaboration both internally and externally so I have been able to easily access the resources and internal expertise I needed to grow my knowledge.
SMI’s customers and supply chain partners have all been extremely patient whilst I am learning the ropes – they have helped me enormously to understand their requirements and how SMI supports them.
They have even laughed with me during this very strange time when all need to stay safe and sane – I thank them for their patience and humour!! I feel extremely blessed to be part of the SMI team who have consistently dropped their work in order to teach, mentor and support in the current self-isolating world of COVID 19”.
Being a parent of school age children has seen Jo and many of the SMI team take on additional roles as school teachers during this time. Very quickly it has become quite normal to see our colleagues’ children wandering in and out of virtual meetings, and there is a fresh tolerance when one has to momentarily drop out of the meeting to answer a homework question or arbitrate a sibling crisis.
“I would like to thank the SMI team for all their support, use of video conferencing and our virtual meetings which have really helped bring people together; I’ve been able to get to know our teams in France and Australia as well as the UK. I am no longer the new kid on the block as that baton has been passed to Nick and our new apprentices. I am confident they too will be welcomed and supported by the team.
I feel blessed in this crazy time to have been given the opportunity to work for SMI, the wonderful people who are the company and to the customers and supply chain I have met to date – please continue with your resilience, patience, and humour!”
Nick Abbott, SMI’s Financial Controller, became the first person to join the business via a completely remote process completing interviews and inductions online.
With 15 years accounting experience for a variety of companies from SMEs to FTSE250, Nick has worked in a number of different finance roles including Strategy Development, M&A, Business Transformation, FP&A and Finance Business Partnering. Nonetheless, he joined SMI with the world facing financial challenges never seen before. He was thrown into the deep end with the business in the throes of remodelling its business plan in the context of the crisis. We asked him to reflect on his baptism of fire!
“I joined the team at SMI the week the country went into Lockdown and was very happy with the amount of support and enabling technology provided resulting in something that could have been really tough, was actually a very positive experience.”
I have worked from home sporadically in the past and always found it a useful way to concentrate on a complex task (toddler notwithstanding). By working from home I was able to swiftly learn a new IT system and really get into the detail very quickly, despite joining the business with so much going on, and the rest of the senior management team were at the end of the phone to answer any questions I had.
SMI’s agile and open approach has made it easy for me to get up to speed and make some positive changes already. I am looking forward to being part of a team that delivers growth whilst operating in an extraordinary political, social and economic environment”