Our Blog

Neal Meets.... Smiley Monroe

NL Smiley Munroe

Neal Lucas, Managing Director of executive search company Neal Lucas Recruitment, talks to Tim Monroe, Marketing Manager at Smiley Monroe, about his career path and role with the company which manufactures heavy-duty conveyor belts for the mobile construction equipment sector.


Tell us about your career path to date?

I must confess to being an accidental marketer and before that, an accidental art director. I spent ten years as a freelancer in the film and TV industry working all over the world. Dad asked me to join the family business to help “raise its profile”. So I agreed to give it two years, moved back to Northern Ireland and I’m still here eight years on. I’ve never regretted swapping celluloid for rubber!


What do you regard as your biggest achievement?

It would have to be helping to build our family business into a niché brand that is known and respected globally within our industry.


What are the greatest challenges in your role?

Mobile and social media present opportunities to connect with customers anytime, anywhere. So the marketing challenge is shifting increasingly online – creating content that is relevant, engaging, consistent and tailored for different channels and getting the right software to do this efficiently. As our company continues to grow and expand its global customer base, material needs to be adapted accordingly. Elimination of waste is at the heart of our lean manufacturing processes, so applying this to a value creation activity such as marketing, is both a challenge and an opportunity.


What skills and experience do you look for in the next generation of marketers?

We’ve actually just hired a marketing assistant. I think the right attitude, passion and commitment are things you can’t train for, so that’s the first thing I’m looking for. We also recently recruited a native German speaker to our sales and marketing team after a lengthy search. Export is vital to local companies like ours and the wider economy, so it’s a no-brainer that a second language is going to make you more employable and make it easier for your employer to do business overseas.


Who has inspired you during your career and why?

My Dad has always been my mentor, providing lots of support and encouragement. As a leader and entrepreneur, one of his real strengths is creating a vision and relentlessly driving it to completion. He never gives up.


What do you enjoy most about your job?

I know it’s a cliché, but no two days are the same, so it’s the sheer variety of the job. Marketing is such a diverse discipline that is constantly evolving, which is challenging, but at the same time exciting to be a part of. Ultimately though, there is nothing better than hearing positive feedback from our customers. That’s what it’s all about.



Networking Diary

27 November: The 2014 Northern Ireland Enterprise Awards, Belfast.



4 December: Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry Christmas Networking Party, Belfast.



5 December: IoD Northern Ireland Director of the Year Awards Lunch, Belfast.



Neal Meets.... ShredBank

 NL ShredBank



Neal Lucas, MD of the executive search business, Neal Lucas Recruitment Ltd, continues to talk to the Directors behind some of Northern Ireland’s leading companies in this popular Ulster Business series. This month, Neal meets Philip Bain, Director of ShredBank.


The role: Director

The company: ShredBank

The person: Philip Bain


What markets do you operate in and what is your position in those markets at the moment?

We operate exclusively in Northern Ireland and we are the leading on-site shredding company in the province.


How have your markets changed over the years and why did you target these?

Over the years our markets have remained the same. We have an extensive client base across all sectors of the economy.


Our clients typically are organisations that generate confidential documents that require a secure and transparent method of destruction. We provide them with an on-site shredding service that destroys their confidential information at the client’s premises using our mobile shredding trucks.


What process do you use for strategy formulation?

We have a very well-refined business model that adapts to the ever constant changes in the business environment. 


What key attributes of your own leadership do you feel have been important in delivering on the strategy?

Being proactive and persistent!


What are the most important decisions you make as a business leader?

I think the most important decisions you make are those which will have an impact on people’s lives. Many years ago, in a previous company, I asked my managing director what was the secret of his success, and he told me “just do the right things.” I asked him to clarify and he replied “just do the right things.” There is simplicity with business and I think in every decision you make and everything you do, just try and “do the right things.”


What is your view on innovation and how does this fit into your strategy?

Innovation is crucial for sustainability and growth. We have recently introduced hard drive destruction to our service offering and product destruction. However, for me, innovation is not just about a new product development but it is being innovative in all areas of business including your marketing strategies, your corporate social responsibility initiatives and your people development policies.


How do you extract complementary skills from your team to enable strategic objectives to be delivered?

Just bring in the right people! Focus on getting people with good character, make sure they fit within the organisation, they are good team players and they have a great attitude with a passion and enthusiasm

to succeed.  


Do you have a definition of leadership and what is it?

Leadership is essentially two or more people trying to achieve a common goal. We tend to think of leaders as the heroic, charismatic, extrovert who are great communicators… but in reality those people are few and far between. If you define leadership as “two or more people trying to achieve common goals” then leadership is everywhere and the focus should be in developing leaders throughout the organisation rather than just the high maintenance few!


What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow as a business leader?

Keep listening and learning! 


Neal Lucas can be contacted on 028 9268 8818 connected with on LinkedIn or followed @NealLucasRec

Neal Meets....National Trust

 National Trust

This month, Neal Lucas, MD of the Executive Search Firm, Neal Lucas Recruitment Ltd meets with Heather Thompson, Regional Director of the National Trust.


What are the key aims for the National Trust over the next few years?

In April 2015 we will celebrate the conclusion of the £7.5m restoration project at Mount Stewart – a project that will bring this famous house back to its former glory. We have exciting plans for the wider demesne at Mount Stewart too and that will keep us busy for the next decade at least!

Regionally our focus will be on land, outdoors and nature. In Northern Ireland we look after more than 200 buildings and outdoor places across 46 square miles of beautiful countryside and farmland. We also look after 15% of our coastline here.


As a key player in tourism, and with more than 2.5 million visitors every year we will also continue to focus on providing the best visitor experiences.


What process do you use for strategy formulation?

We have an inclusive planning process involving staff and volunteers which helps us to build a regional business plan. That spirit of teamwork is really important to us.

Our core purpose is to look after special places forever, for everyone – so we look far beyond the next five or 10 years.  We’re aware that decisions we make today will have an impact in more than 100 years. That’s a big responsibility.


What key attributes of your leadership are important in delivering your strategy?
For me it’s about my own commitment to our environmental work. I truly believe that we need to manage our natural resources in a different way in order to leave this place better than the way we inherited it.


I’m also committed to getting the best from my team. We can get amazing results through identifying the best people to lead on projects and providing coaching support to help them develop.


Finally, I’m very competitive, so that really spurs me on to deliver results!


What are the most important decisions you make as a leader?

Having the right people is essential so that we use our resources effectively. As a charity it’s also important to invest our funds wisely. We have so many differing needs to consider and there is never enough to do everything – so prioritisation is key.


How do you extract complementary skills from your team to enable strategic objectives to be delivered?

Although we have up to 500 staff in peak season, we are incredibly lucky to have the support of 6,200 volunteers locally. Without that support network we simply couldn’t do what we do. That gives us a huge pool of talent, from experts in fabric and wallpapers to specialists in wildlife and conservation.


The challenge is bringing all that amazing knowledge together.


Do you have a definition of leadership?

Leadership is ultimately about getting results. It is up to me to get the best performance from my team through creating the right culture, setting a clear direction and celebrating our successes. 


You can contact Neal Lucas on 028 9268 8818 or by visiting www.neallucasrecruitment.com



This is from Ulster Business... Ones to Watch

Born in Glasgow and raised in Lisburn, Neal Lucas made a conscious move into Executive Recruitment straight out of university. In 2009,  after  eight years in the sector, he started his own business, Neal Lucas Recruitment.

How would you describe what you do?

We are a director and management level search and recruitment business operating across private, voluntary and public sectors in NI and abroad;  satisfying customer needs and seeking to exceed their expectations to mutual benefit.

Why is there  a need for what you do – who are your customers?

The need comes from organisations that  have a desire to recruit the right people for key roles. Our clients vary across all sectors of the economy, from charities in the voluntary sector to large private sector companies.  We provide a structured, effective and professionally managed recruitment service that augments and supports in-house recruitment management.

What makes you better than what’s already out there?

We are passionate about  recruitment. Feedback from clients over a number of years has indicated that  they use us because  of our personal service, expertise in recruitment practice and our extensive knowledge of the better candidates in the marketplace. They value our honesty and speed of response and appreciate that we work very hard on their behalf to save them time and money by recruiting the best people every time.

 What excites you most about what you do?

When clients have failed with traditional methods of recruitment; either themselves or through the agency route and they ask us to fill the role. We enjoy the challenge  of innovating both our services and processes to ensure we deliver consistent  results for our clients employing the best practice methods the market.  We have smashed  the illusion of old boys operating in the shadows with a little black book of contacts  or managing an advert in the printed media.

Biggest challenge you’ve come  up against so far?

Setting up my own business four years ago and developing it amidst the bad economic conditions. I encountered all the issues associated with dynamic growth whilst learning to manage people and resources.  Finding ways of overcoming the obstacles whilst continuing  to service clients has given the confidence  and skills, which in turn have provided a firm foundation for profitable growth  we currently enjoy.

What would help you to kick on to the next  level?

Our next step is to add more recruiters to the team who share our ethos and are passionate about  creating value for clients and our business. This extra resource will also allow us to develop our services further so that  when our clients demand more, we will be ready.

This year will be a big year for us because…

The business is in a great position to move to the next stage  of our current three year development plan. Everyone at Neal Lucas Recruitment is highly motivated  and we have developed  strong partnerships with key clients, also the Northern Ireland economy is starting to recover and this confidence  is reflected in our budgets.

Is there  anyone out there who inspires  you?

I am inspired by those people I meet that have worked hard and recognise that success is a process. I have very little time for the superficial people or sycophants and have a finely tuned  bullsh*t radar.