In conversation with Nissan's newly promoted Production Control Director

Our recent Talent Trends report, which surveyed 50,000 global workers, including 2,500 from the UK, sheds light on the pressing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) initiatives that are being felt as a priority across various sectors including manufacturing.

Among respondents in the engineering and manufacturing sector:

  • 31% identified closing the gender pay gap as a top priority.
  • 23% emphasised the importance of increasing women's representation in leadership positions.
  • A further 23% stressed the importance of promoting greater equity and inclusion of women in the workplace.

Against this backdrop of industry insights, Ruth Hancock at Michael Page Manufacturing had the privilege of sitting down with Claire Curtis, Production Control Director at Nissan. Claire's ascent to this role within the company not only underscores Nissan's commitment to progress but also reflects broader industry aspirations towards inclusivity and advancement.

Claire shines a light on Production Control and the diverse roles that sit within the specialism offering a glimpse into the future of engineering and manufacturing through the lens of diversity and inclusion.

What is production planning and control?

"Production Control serves as the unseen engine driving the seamless flow of manufacturing processes. Often overshadowed, its significance lies in meticulous planning and coordination across various facets of production.

Within the fast-paced, high-pressure environment of automotive manufacturing, Production Control acts as the nexus, connecting production planning, scheduling, parts control, material handling, and design change control."

What essential traits and skills do successful people typically display or develop in Production Control?

“At Nissan we value a broad set of skills to cover the various roles within Production Control. From my experience, successful individuals in Production Control embody resilience, adaptability, and a strong team ethos. They thrive in pressure-cooker situations, while maintaining composure when navigating challenges. Technical prowess, while crucial, can be honed through training and mentorship. Effective communication and organisational skills are paramount for fostering seamless coordination among diverse teams and functions.”

As a successful female leader in manufacturing, what do you think businesses can do to attract, develop, and retain a diverse workforce?

"As a female leader in manufacturing, I firmly believe in the importance of showcasing the automotive industry as inclusive and accessible to all. One key element is to demonstrate the diverse array of roles and opportunities available, spanning multiple departments and skill sets.

Leading by example, at Nissan Motor Manufacturing UK (NMUK), the Production Control department boasts a significant female presence, comprising approximately 40% of our workforce.

At Nissan, we’re committed to gender diversity and inclusivity, and have implemented targeted initiatives to attract, develop, and retain a diverse workforce, including:

  • Collaborating with local schools, nurturing interest in manufacturing careers from an early age in both young males and females. Through engagement programmes and hands-on experiences, we aim to inspire the next generation of talent.
  • Providing a robust apprenticeship pathway to manufacturing – across key functions within the organisation – for individuals from diverse backgrounds...
  • Offering flexible work arrangements, including different shift patterns, working hours, and opportunities for remote work. 

By catering to diverse needs and lifestyles, we aim to create an environment where all employees can thrive and contribute their best.

Fostering diversity in manufacturing requires a multifaceted approach, encompassing education, training, and supportive work environments. Through concerted efforts and inclusive policies, we can build a workforce that reflects the richness of our society and drives innovation forward."

Embrace diversity, drive success

Claire Curtis' appointment as the first female Production Control Director symbolises a positive step forward for the manufacturing industry. It also stands as a call for others to follow suit, break barriers, and adopt effective strategies that support true diversity and inclusivity.

If you’re searching for a conversation starter to foster diversity and inclusion in your workplace, remember diverse teams make better decisions bringing:

  • Broader range of perspectives: Diverse teams bring varied backgrounds and experiences, offering fresh viewpoints and challenging conventional thinking.
  • Enhanced creativity and innovation: Different perspectives spark creativity and innovation, leading to novel solutions and approaches.
  •  Better problem-solving: Cognitive diversity enables teams to explore a wider range of solutions, anticipate risks, and devise robust strategies.
  • Reduced groupthink: Diverse teams are less susceptible to groupthink, as members challenge assumptions and consider alternative viewpoints.
  • Improved decision quality: Incorporating diverse perspectives leads to more comprehensive, well-rounded decisions that address complex challenges effectively.

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