Posted on Wednesday 25 January 2017 by Ulster Business
To say Brendan McGurgan has achieved a lot in a short space of time is something of an understatement.
The boss of one of the most innovative companies in one of the most innovative sectors in Northern Ireland – materials handling – has led the firm into new geographies, new sectors and in a new manner since taking over the top job in 2007.
Along the way he kept his he kept his head down before very nearly sweeping the board at this year’s Institute of Directors Awards, picking up the title of Young Director of the Year together with the ultimate title of Director of the Year.
Both titles were from a UK-wide field and are awards which aren’t given lightly, so what sets the 42-year old apart from his peers when it comes to leading from the front?
“Authenticity, positivity, ability to challenge, good communication skills, being a good listener, a willingness to learn, great attitude, passion for the brand, an ability to understand the numbers, be trustworthy, be approachable, be decisive and have the ability to set clear goals aligned with a vision,” he told Ulster Business, before drawing breath.
“I am still working on some of these every day!”
Such a comprehensive remit has been front and centre of his thinking in the job, one which called for an outside-the-box approach to what is a traditional industry.
“When I came into the role of managing director, the big challenge for me was how to bring something different to the role. I’m not from an engineering background but, given that we have some of the best engineers in the industry, there was no need for me to be.”
Having the ability to recognise your own and others’ strengths is something Brendan learned in his early career.
After studying at Ulster University he joined PwC in 1998 before being admitted to the Institute of Chartered Accountants in March 2000.
He then joined Amacis Ltd, a software startup company, as Group Financial Controller, which gave him experience of raising finance through venture capitalists and the mechanics of setting up and conducting business in America and Asia Pacific.
Brendan joined CDE in October 2003 as Financial Controller and was appointed to the Board of Directors in March 2004 before becoming Managing Director of the company in May 2007.
And despite picking up a lot of experience in a short space of time, he’s well aware that there’s always more to learn.
“I have always been hugely ambitious and remain so but it is important to remember that success in your career comes from trying to improve yourself a little every day.”
Under Brendan’s leadership, CDE has grown substantially in the last few years.
It now operates across five sectors in eight regions regions “empowering our customers to demand more from the world’s mineral resources”.
It works in sectors as diverse as mining, construction material, industrial sands, construction & demolition waste recycling and environmental but in almost everything tries to help customers turn material that has been traditionally seen as a waste product into a valuable resource.
CDE has grown substantially in the last few years under an all-encompassing approach.
“We have managed our recent growth by having a clear, well-communicated strategy that people are engaged with because they’ve been involved in the creation of that strategy. We launched our 2020 Vision strategy last year which sets some very ambitions targets for further growth.
“These targets didn’t come from the board of directors; they were created after we consulted with every person in the company to understand where they felt the challenges and opportunities lay for us over the next five years.
“As a result, our people have all invested in the strategy and are committed to its successful execution.”
As a result, Brendan expects to add 100 to the company’s headcount between now and 2020 on the back of one simple plan:
“Our vision is to be the number one wet processing equipment company in every country in the world.”
It sounds grand, but he will probably achieve it.