CeeD – where ‘know how’ meets ‘can do’

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Blog: 36 months on ...

By Joe Pacitti, Managing Director, CeeD

As we near the end of what has been a strange and very difficult year for many, I started to reflect not just on 2020 but the past 36 months, from when I first took the helm at CeeD. The business was in a bit of a mixed position - for some in the Scottish manufacturing, engineering and technology community, it is still a well-kept secret, or it has been. I will come back to this. For others it is well known, well respected and a ‘go to’ place for sharing best practice and doing so openly with a positive acceptance of paying forward.

Our Members are the real Stars

The point to stress is that this good reputation is only in part due to the excellent CeeD staff and their dedication, as it is really our members who are the stars in this success through their engagement across the network. One of the overriding elements of the CeeD model that has struck me every day, is how willingly members share best practice, have a willingness to mentor and a willingness to learn. The team have worked hard to ensure the content we share is diverse and relevant to appeal to our sector-wide members.

Manufacturing and engineering companies have such a wide discipline of roles that we aim to cover technical, business, marketing and management topics and, increasingly, meta-skills. This drove us to introduce the Executive Leadership programme "Leading from the Front". A more recent offering, we felt it was important to give our senior leaders a place to come and share, building relationships and creating a space to discuss ways of working on the business not just in the business.

CeeD delivers activity/events and workshops that cater for a wide spectrum of staff from operators to CEOs, as well as industry, academia, professional and government agencies. We still believe that it is this breadth and depth which positions us as a unique organisation. Our well-respected mini MBA programme, Growth500 has reached over 1,000 alumni with over 300 organisations successfully going through the learning. A successful ‘classroom’ offering, we wondered how we could continue the programme when lockdown hit. After some internal chats and discussions, a digital version ‘Growth 5.0’ was born – and we’re really pleased how well this switch-over has gone, although some elements are still better suited to face-to-face learning.

Cyber security and resilience is a more recent subject area for CeeD with ever increasing importance. Here, we share learnings and best practice through member workshops and working with the Cyber Resilience team at Scottish Government.

Growing the Team

The team has also grown more recently, with a 50% increase in staffing as a result of CeeD being awarded the contract by Scottish Enterprise, on behalf of Scottish Government and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, to deliver the Advancing Manufacturing Cluster Builder (AMCB) programme. Our challenge was then to recruit quality staff right at the start of the pandemic, adapt our planned delivery and build relationships to support the 12 great Advancing Manufacturing Challenge (AMCF) projects located across Scotland and the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS).

Pivoting the CeeD Offering

Having pivoted to conduct all our meetings, engagements and events virtually so far, we’re looking forward to our first face-to-face meetings and events at some point next year, hopefully. I have strongly advocated that Scotland has not done enough to bring new start-up and early stage companies together with more established mid-sized and multinational companies. The benefit of testing new products, services and getting advice on what might be a solution are just a few of the benefits these start-ups can gain from mixing it up in CeeD. The best-practice sharing and learning is the same across all business sizes, but the mentoring for the smaller businesses and the early sight of disruptive new technology and services for the larger, more established companies are important ingredients to make Scottish manufacturing and engineering sectors stronger and more innovative – and we’re looking forward to welcoming more start-ups to the CeeD community next year, as we launch our new Bootcamp for Start-ups series on 14th January 2021.

CeeD Annual Awards Dinner

At my first board meeting three years ago, my fellow directors wanted CeeD to deliver a celebration Awards dinner. We were a team of three with limited resources. However, with the support of the Board and thanks to our additional sponsors, we delivered our inaugural Awards dinner with 500 guests in attendance (our target was 150). What a good time we all had – and the event has gone from strength to strength. Becoming a firm fixture each February, we have had to review our plans for 2021 and move to a later date in the year.

So, mark the date for the best ‘hang out’ club in Scotland as I call it, and put 6th October 2021 in your diaries. We’re open for sponsorship now and the Awards applications will open next year.

No longer such a well-kept secret

Finally, I said I would return to the point about CeeD being a well-kept secret. Harder to say that now and indeed I would say that we’re growing our reach. We have continued to run a full events programme online since lockdown and we have delivered over 150 events, many of them new, to over 3,000 delegates this year. I believe we are part of a force for change that strengthens an important sector in Scotland. Having set out to be more relevant, broaden our offering to members and reach to the sectors we support, the feedback from the community assures us we are on the right track and trajectory. As ever, we want to hear your views and reactions - tell us what you want more of, what you want to share with others and help all of us to keep improving and being the best we can be.

Here’s to the next three years. Let’s make it even better, together, and grow the CeeD community. In the meantime, we look forward to being able to meet you in person once again and to celebrating with you at the CeeD Awards next year. I know we’ll be more than ready for a bit of a party by then!

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