Meet Team Kadant – Karl Wilkinson, Operations Manager - Kadant UK Limited
Department/Title: Operations Manager
Worked at Kadant Since: 2006
Tell me about your career path and how you got to Kadant UK.
My journey started in the paper industry 30 years ago when I was lucky enough to begin a mechanical/fabrication apprenticeship at Star Paper Mill (Kymmene), United Kingdom. Once I completed my five-year apprenticeship, I continued my studies in metallurgy, quality inspection, and nondestructive testing which led to my interest in the importance of quality within engineering and managing business. The company then became part of Sappi Group and renamed Sappi Fine Paper Europe, Blackburn Mill. This brought a very quick change in culture across the entire business, particularly in engineering. I took the opportunity to become an EIM technician working shifts across disciplines of electrical/instrumentation/mechanical projects and maintenance management systems such as TPM.
I was fortunate to be able to continue my university studies in Quality Management & Statistical Process Control becoming a Chartered Quality Professional (CQP MCQI) Member of Chartered Quality Institute and undertook 1st Year Certificate MBA.
I ended my steep learning curve at Sappi Europe working in the Projects department as a maintenance and development engineer gaining knowledge and experience across a diverse range of projects and services such as paper machine rebuilds, utilities, CDM infrastructure, power generation, production efficiency, energy optimization, statutory inspection, and contract management. During this period, I attained NEBOSH and PRINCE2 Project Management designations.
I then made the big decision to join Kadant Johnson System International, United Kingdom to learn the art of thermodynamics, designing steam and condensate systems, and project managing from design to installation as Engineering Manager, which took me to some very interesting countries such as Russia, India, and Bangladesh.
After six years, I took an opportunity to work closer to home and joined Kadant UK Limited as Commercial Manager in 2012 and last year was appointed Operations Manager. I now lead a dynamic team which spans across engineering, production, purchasing, technical services, and marketing.
What’s one thing you’ve learned in your time at Kadant?
During my career path with Kadant working across different entities, I’ve learned the importance of embracing change in all its forms and using change as an opportunity to grow business and develop team members in reaching their true potential – the best part of management and most rewarding for me!
What do you think is the most important quality for success?
The most important quality for success in my experience is the ability to develop a positive culture and energy within
How has Kadant UK changed in the time that you’ve been there?
Kadant UK has recently undertaken a significant management change with a simple shared company vision “customer needs”. These two words are pretty simple yet have had a profound effect on the company changing direction in terms of managing all activities from customer care to engineering technical services - ultimately enhancing our customer experience.
What are your recommended books or blogs about leadership?
There is a plethora of information in the public domain concerning leadership, managing people, and behavioral science. The book I’m currently reading and highly recommend is “The Positive Leader – How Energy & Happiness Fuel Top-Performing Teams” by Jan Muhlfeit & Melian Costi. This amazing book underpins some of my previous comments and illustrates a different way of managing successful teams within a positive working environment.
Tell me about your family.
My wife has managed her own business in advertising, styling, and creative services for 18 years and my daughter is currently a full-time student at university studying sociology and criminology.
What do you like to do in your free time and why?
I have always been passionate about wildlife and the big outdoors, enjoying the challenge of mountain biking over hills and following canal routes, mountaineering in the Lake District or Scottish Highlands and my latest obsession is spin classes at my local health center. I believe its vitally important in this digitalized age to immerse ourselves with family and friends enjoying time away from smartphones and laptops.
Have you read any good books lately?
When I’m not outdoors, I love to read books (yes paper copies!) and find it’s a great way to relax and escape. A couple of books that stand out are “The Silmarillion” by J.R.R. Tolkien and “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho.