One of manufacturing’s leading champions and business support professionals has been appointed as the new Chair of the UK Metals Council (UKMC).
Rachel Eade MBE will become the first woman to take the helm of the organisation, which initially began life 20 years ago as the Metals Forum and today represents more than 11,100 companies and supports more than £200bn of UK GDP.
The supply chain expert replaces Chris McDonald, the Chief Executive of the Materials Processing Institute, and will look to build on his outstanding work in developing UKMC as truly representative of the sector and a valued partner of Government.
Using her 20+years’ experience in the automotive, aerospace and rail industries, she will look to support companies to overcome unprecedented economic challenges and energy price rises that could see some bills quadruple overnight.
Rachel’s focus will also be on maximising the innovation in the sector and how it can develop technologies and skills that support the move towards Net Zero by 2050.
“This is a very exciting challenge and gives me the chance to work with influential trade associations, member companies and academia to shape how we navigate the issues whilst making the most of the opportunities,” explained Rachel, who is also currently Supply Chain Lead at Birmingham City University.
“There is no getting away from the difficulties we are facing, but I’ve spent most of my career helping industries diversify through major shocks, such as the MG Rover closure, the impacts of the Japanese tsunami and Covid-19.”
She continued: “My predecessor Chris had done a fantastic job of growing the profile and membership of UKMC and this is something I really want to build on, using my contacts with Government and my profile across industry and in the media to achieve that.
“Metals is a foundation industry and critical to the success of UK manufacturing, especially as we look to create a greener economy. There is so much innovation in the sector, but we are crying out for an Industrial Minister and a cross-party Industrial Strategy.”
Rachel’s appointment comes at an exciting time, with the sector about to host its first ever UK Metals Expo at the NEC in Birmingham.
The two-day event (September 14th-15th) will represent primary metal manufacturers, the supply chain, recycling experts and leading academics as it bids to bring the industry together under one roof for the first time.
In addition to 100s of exhibitors, the Expo will also feature a host of keynote speakers covering supply chains, innovation, skills and the circular economy, with the aim of tackling topical issues and creating debate that runs throughout the year.
“UK Metals Expo was long overdue, and I’m really pleased that the UKMC is throwing its full weight behind it in a bid to create an event that will be around for decades to come,” continued Rachel.
“Our aim is that, by 2030, a modern and progressive UK metals industry will be supplying high quality, innovative and competitively priced products to a wide range of customers.
“The sector is already a vital part of the circular economy and a key supplier to the UK’s main manufacturers and infrastructure projects, as well a leading global exporter, with an important contribution to make in the UK’s transition to Net Zero. This can be reality if we remain in the forefront of Government thinking and receive the backing our sector richly deserves.”
Chris McDonald, previous Chair of the UKMC, added his support: “Rachel’s appointment strengthens an already strong female presence on our board, and I know, from early discussions, that she is committed to having a resilient and green UK economy, based on high skills in places outside London and the South East.
“The UK Metals sector is well placed to help deliver this if we can get a national Industrial Strategy in place that incentivises and promotes the development of more environmentally sustainable manufacturing.”
He concluded: “UK Metals Expo is an important breakthrough in our future strategy and has already attracted the likes of Aalco, Inductotherm, Tata Steel, UK Steel and Wedge Group Galvanizing.”