When not on an adventurous holiday, enjoying water sports or walking in the Lake District, Tom Robinson has a mission to enjoy each challenge that comes along and help Simons Group to reach their targets of sustainable construction.
This feature interview was first published in issue 12 of the Lincolnshire Business weekly magazine, now available to read at www.lincsbusiness.co. Subscribe to the email newsletter to receive the latest edition in your inbox this Friday.
The family business Simons Group appointed their first non-family member as the new Chief Executive in July 2014. With Tom’s strong family background and understanding of the construction industry, he was a shoe-in for the role. As both he and his wife of 20 years, Ali, are keen on the outdoors, the environment is close to their hearts.
The design, development and construction business sees projects through from start to finish. Starting with finding the right location and land which can then be developed and built on to create what customers need.
“A recent example of this would be the North Lincolnshire Shopping Park where we did everything from finding the land to doing the feasibility studies and getting the planning permission to designing it and getting the tenants on board, the likes of Marks & Spencer’s, Debenhams, Boots and doing some of the fit out work there as well.”
Tom’s new role is to ensure that everything is done to the highest standard possible. “Ultimately I am responsible for proposing strategy to the board and delivering that strategy through the rest of the team and the business.
“That will be around a selection of markets and customer opportunities and then making sure that the team is structured, capable, committed and motivated to deliver on that. It’s about looking for where there is sustainable growth and markets that are going to keep us busy doing things that we enjoy and that we are passionate about, as well as making sure that we have the right people to deliver what the customers in those markets need.”
Getting ahead of the game
When Tom left boarding school in Somerset he was given an Oxford Dictionary by the Head Master with a simple message inside – “Aim high.” That is exactly what he has done and is proud of how far he has come a relatively short time.
It was very important for Simons Group that the person who took on the chief executive role, understood where the family business came from. They needed someone who could understand the language but who would also keep their family values intact. Being calm and level-headed is something that Tom is very good at and with two teenage sons, he knows what is required to make a family work. To get the best results in a working environment, he believes that people have to enjoy their jobs and work together.
“I have always wanted to be responsible for my own team and being a Chief Exec means that I have the ultimate team. I enjoy seeing other people enjoying themselves and being fulfilled in what they do. I like a happy and collaborative working environment and I am quite a good facilitator amongst other things. That doesn’t mean to say that it’s always pink, fluffy and a nice, easy road for everyone, as there are some big challenges that we have to face, just like in any business.”
But no job comes without its challenges and taking on a team as large as this one means that there will need to be some changes. “The challenge for me and the rest of the team is to not accept ‘good enough’ as good enough. For me, improvement and being the best is something that we need to really strive for.”