My experience with GEC-Marconi Ltd

Technical & Quality Manager: 1989–1991

I joined a Scottish division of defence electronics contractor GEC-Marconi Ltd in 1989. With the dual role of Technical and Quality Manager, I was responsible for several functions: quality assurance; product and process development; pre-production engineering; production engineering and process control; and the chemistry laboratory.

Much of the focus of my two years with the company was managing a multi-million pound refurbishment of the production unit. This involved

  • building and equipping a completely new Class 10,000 clean room;
  • renewing more than half of the production facility’s capital equipment;
  • introducing, qualifying, developing and improving a number of new production processes and methods;
  • minimising disruption to production while all of the refurbishment work was in progress.

This was a much-needed redevelopment, offsetting several prior years of low investment, which both expanded our capacity and enhanced our capability.

In my Technical Manager role, I brought together all of the technical functions that had existed previously under different departments. This allowed me to integrate the working of these functions to greater effect, improving communication between them and speeding up tasks requiring cross-function involvement.

As Quality Manager, I inherited a stagnant quality system. My time with the company coincided with the period when the UK Ministry of Defence planned to phase out its second-party assessment and approval scheme to its own Def. Stan. 05-XX series of standards, requiring contractors instead to obtain third party certification to ISO9000. This presented an ideal opportunity to completely revise and document the quality system, introducing new procedures and concepts, and preparing the business for independent certification to ISO9000.

Reorganising the functions within my remit allowed me to present new opportunities for staff development and to allow them greater autonomy and responsibility than they had been used to previously. Shortly before I left the company, and having laid the necessary foundation for the future, we appointed a new Quality Manager to relieve me of those responsibilities and allow me to concentrate on technical matters.