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Julies Years Ahead

by msecadm4921

Our regular contributor Una Riley talks to Julie Kenny about her company; the BSIA; LA, even.

Over the past two decades Pyronix has grown from being a single detector manufacturer to one of the world’s leading providers of quality security equipment, Una Riley writes. Its now extensive product portfolio is continually developing and evolving, to provide the electro-technical security profession with new products utilising the latest developments and manufacturing processes. These are not idle words. As a former customer of Pyronix PIRs for many years I have seen the company grow from strength to strength to become the market leader in its field, exporting to Australasia, South America and the Far East. Pyronix was the first company outside China to have gained Chinese product approval and only the fifth company worldwide to have achieved this accolade. The management team is led by Julie Kenny, CBE DL.

Julie is well known not only as being Managing Director of Pyronix and for her work in the Yorkshire business community (where she lives) and as a director of Yorkshire Forward, the Chamber of Commerce Barnsley and Rotherham and Board member of Creative Sheffield. From a national perspective Julie is also renowned for her work as a member of the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, the Small Business Forum, the Administrative Burdens Advisory Board, and the Better Regulation Stakeholder Group. When I recently caught up with Julie I had heard that she had been appointed Vice Chairman of the BSIA (British Security Industry Association). I wanted to know more about her new role and also hear about her previous experience within the BSIA?

Julie replied: "I have been the Chairman of the Security Equipment Section on two occasions (of two year slots) and during that time I gained a lot of knowledge of the way the Association works. I attended many informative meetings, including GPC meetings. I have been a Council member of the BSIA for 17 years and I have chaired the Export Committee and been involved in different marketing and commercial sub- committees of the section. I have also been present at meetings with the BSI, ABI and other bodies pertaining to my BSIA involvement."

From an electro-technical perspective it is good that someone with Julie’s insight and experience in the sector has been awarded the role. I asked her to explain the appointment set-up and how long she thought the job would take? "I was appointed Vice Chairman at the BSIA Council Meeting on May 19, 2009. The post is for one year and then the Vice Chairman progresses to Chairman at the AGM in July 2010. The role is for a period of two years…at the end of which (July 2012) the Chairman assumes the role of Vice Chairman once again…this time for a period of one year. Both these time frames allow the incoming/new Chairman to learn the ropes and receive support from the incumbent Chairman. This strategic planning ensures the smooth transition to enable all outstanding work and policy decision making to be handed-over with the least negative impact on the business."

I asked Julie if she would be the first female Chairman of the BSIA. Julie replied: "Yes I believe I will. I have been a Director of the BSIA since 1992 and I believe I was the first woman Director so I do not recall a previous female Chair." "Do you think being the Chairman of the BSIA will be an active role within the association?"

Julie replied: "I hope so! There are obviously some administrative and organisational tasks to undertake which will include chairing several meetings but more importantly there will be, I believe, several ambassadorial and representative roles to undertake as Chairman. My understanding is that as Chairman of the BSIA it is important to ensure that I serve the interests of the entire membership of the BSIA and ensure that they receive the best support and representation that we can give them. In this economic climate it is most important to promote the Industry and its members as best we can."

With her wealth of experience I asked what advice she would give to SMEs and start-up companies. "During my time as Vice Chairman and Chairman I am hoping to meet many SME businesses of all shapes and sizes and during that time I am sure that they will not hesitate to let me know their hopes and fears for themselves and our Industry. From a start up to now Pyronix has been on many journeys – some good and some bad. My advice is to have a plan and stick to it! Always have faith in yourself and never be too proud to learn from others. Hard work, focus and determination make up the rest." I went on to ask Julie what changes she would like to see in the BSIA? She laughed as she replied: "Having been a Vice Chairman for only three weeks…and two of those were annual leave! I do not have a clue but I intend during my term as Vice Chairman to attend as many of the BSIA section meetings as I can and meet the active members so that I can get a view of our members within the association. Of course, I shall be supporting the work of our current Chairman [Stuart Lowden] and building on his initiative of ensuring that the BSIA has a list of strategic priorities. These priorities will be born out by continuing to communicate with individual sections of the Association. Each of the Chairmen of the sections will encourage members to set out their strategic priorities for consideration and future action." Julie has certainly been a high achiever and I wanted to know what her plans were over the next three years? Julie said. "During the next three years I shall be busy with my role within the BSIA and when that term comes to an end I shall be taking on a new important role within my region. I also continue to work on several Board positions outside my company and the industry." With all this work do you ever get time to play…do you have time for any personal ambitions? I asked.

Again Julie laughed and said: "Of course! I have a list of 50 things I wish to achieve before I die. Some things are really weird…like for instance I want to ride pillion on the back of a roaring motorcycle. There is only one problem…I am so scared of motorbikes! So I guess you can say there are 51 things I want to do…overcoming the fear of bikes for a start!" After a laugh I asked Julie.

What next for Pyronix? She said: "We have a good year ahead with many new and innovative products. We are looking to pioneer exports to further countries that we have not encountered before." We continued to chat about the many countries that Julie visited last year and the excitement of growing a business from a national company to that of a global player in terms of export. My concluding question for Julie was. "What next for you?" With a wry smile she replied. "I think I have got a few action-packed years ahead of me yet! My priority is to continue to ensure that my three gorgeous children take the leap from childhood to adulthood in the least stressful manner. All three are in full time education at the moment. My eldest son is studying at the Los Angeles School of Recording Music…he is 20. My middle son (17 years old) is taking AS levels (with the last one this week! Thank goodness) and my daughter (who is 15) has just finished her first year studying GCSEs. As for me…there are a few other jobs I would like to do before I hang my hat up!"

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