TurfPro editor, Laurence Gale writes:
One of the biggest challenges our industry faces in the coming years will be inspiring the next generation of turf professionals to join our sector. We desperately need to start finding ways to encourage more people to come and work in this diverse, international industry.
To help start this process, I have asked a number of our leading professionals to write a piece about how they came to work in this industry and the opportunities it has given them.
David Withers, md UK Iseki UK & Ireland
Tell us about yourself?
I work at Iseki UK & Ireland as managing director. We are based in Ipswich and look after Iseki interests in UK, Ireland, Middle East and South Africa. Prior to working here I worked for Jacobsen for 24 years serving 6 years as President of Jacobsen and 7 years as managing director of Ransomes Jacobsen. My first job in the industry was as a demonstrator for Charterhouse Turf Machinery in the late 80s.
Who or what inspired you to take up your career?
Like many people I came into this industry almost by accident, but very quickly learned to really enjoy and appreciate the benefits of being in such a great market and decided to stay in the industry for my career. The attitude I have always tried to follow is to do the best you can for the company you work for and your career will take care of itself. On many occasions I was given or took more responsibility than my existing job description would say that I should have without getting the appropriate title or compensation change - but in due course these followed. Some people get so hung up on mapping out their careers that they forget that the best way of getting on is to do a great job for the company you work for and everything else will follow..
Which individuals have inspired you or helped you develop professionally?
I have taken bits and pieces from everyone who I have worked for and much from people that worked for me or with me. A few mentions would be when I joined Charterhouse Turf Machinery my bosses were David Jenkins and Philip Threadgold and they very much emphasised the basics of all business protocols in terms of, punctuality, professionalism and personal responsibility. Peter Bell who was MD at Jacobsen UK prior to the acquisition of Ransomes was a great believer in customer relationships and this was a concept that has become my main guiding principal thorough the rest of my career. It’s all about people!
What concerns do you have for the future of our industry?
The industry will change and adapt - but it will survive. People want to play sport and enjoy green spaces and that means that maintenance of these spaces will continue. Over time there will be more robotics and we will all have to learn to do more with less.
How do you think we can entice the next generation of industry professionals to come and work in this industry?
This is a concern as to how we showcase what a great industry this is, to bring in the next generation of people who will be as committed to the industry as the last generations have been. We are seeing that people these days expect to move companies and have more career changes than was common in the past, but I still believe that we will attract great talent into our industry.
How have recent events impacted on your job and how would you like to see the government support our industry?
The first shutdown was pretty tough but since then business has rebounded and been more back to normal. I don’t think anyone would accuse the Government of having shown any competence in its dealing with the pandemic and I think we will all need to continue to work these things out ourselves as best we can.