Colin Smit is Managing Director for the UK and Ireland for Lumag Ltd UK. Located in Poland, Lumag produces friction materials for the automotive and commercial vehicle brake segments. In the following Q&A, Colin shares with us his valuable insights on the topics of leadership and success.
TBR: What is your current role and area of responsibility?
CS: Managing Director – responsible for strategy, sales development, stock management, warehouse management, general all-around responsibilities for the running of the UK/Irish subsidiary of Lumag z.o.o.
TBR: How would you describe your leadership style and why has it worked so well for you?
CS: I have an inclusive management style and include all viewpoints when making strategic decisions. I’ve always been a firm believer in obtaining buy-in from all stakeholders. That way people have ownership of the process and have a clear direction to follow.
TBR: What do you see as your biggest challenge right now?
CS: The UK/Irish aftermarket is very volatile at the moment. Brexit, and the uncertainty around it, is making people nervous. The double-digit growth we enjoyed in the first 4 years of trading in the UK is difficult to sustain in these uncertain times.
TBR: What do you look for when evaluating top talent?
CS: In a word – chemistry. I need to gel with people that work with me. We spend more time at work than we do with our loved ones and it is important to like the people you work with.
TBR: What was your first job in Industry?
CS: I started at the bottom. My first role after University was as a warehouseman at a parcel delivery company. The life lessons I learned there have stayed with me throughout my career. I never ask anyone to do anything that I wouldn’t do, or have done myself.
TBR: What is the best career advice you have been given?
CS: Being a good listener is absolutely critical to being a good leader; you have to listen to the people who are on the front line.
TBR: Name your favorite / recent book(s) you have read:
CS: The Wolf of Wall Street – Jordan Belfort
TBR: What is your favorite quote and why?
CS: “Be nice to people on your way up, because you will meet them on the way down.” – Wilson Mizner.
It helps me to stay grounded. Being nice to people isn’t a bad thing. You don’t have to be dictatorial to obtain the best out of your people.
TBR: How do you see the industry evolving over the next 5-10 years and do you have any bold predictions for us?
CS: With the advent of the connected car/truck and the move to electric vehicles, the friction industry will change forever. Those vehicles will have less need to use friction materials as engine retardation will come into play much more than conventional braking. It’s time to diversify or die. The need to have a broad product portfolio will become of paramount importance over the coming decades.
TBR: Tell us a something that most people might not know about you or your organization.
CS: Lumag will be 30 years old in 2018. Watch this space!