Sheffield Forgemasters’ young director wins top regional award

Forge director Gareth Barker was named Yorkshire Young Director of the Year at the Institute of Directors’ annual regional awards in Leeds.

Gareth, who worked his way through the ranks at Sheffield Forgemasters after starting out as an apprentice, was among a selection of inspiring business leaders to pick up an accolade at the awards, now in their seventh year.

He was one of only three directors from Yorkshire and Humber companies to make the shortlist of business leaders from across the region for the Yorkshire Young Director of the Year Awards.

Gareth said: “Winning this award really underpins the fact that this company presented me with a great opportunity, which I have worked hard to honour.

“I would hope that my own transition from an apprentice at the age of 16 to become a divisional director can act as an incentive for other youngsters starting out to work hard and show their capabilities.

“There is no easy way to win promotion in any business, but all of the challenges I have faced during my time at Forgemasters have turned into triumphs once they have been overcome. I’d also like to think that other companies will see my story as justification that apprenticeships really do work.

“Every day brings a different challenge at Sheffield Forgemasters and I feel privileged to have seen, and been part of the company which has grown and achieved fantastic results since the MBO.”

Gareth’s climb up the Forgemasters ranks stemmed from his aptitude as an apprentice engineer, which soon saw a move into the more specific role of process engineering. At just 25, Gareth was promoted to product manager for the company’s roll-manufacturing division, eventually working as general manager for the south machine shop.

Gareth’s time as director of the forge has posed many interesting challenges and he works closely with colleagues in the research and development department to seek new ways of forging technical components for state-of-the-art industries such as civil nuclear power generation.

And as a divisional director, Gareth works closely with the Sheffield Forgemasters board on a continued financial and educational reinvestment programme aimed to make the company’s heavy forge highly efficient and able to handle increasingly difficult projects.

This programme has majored on reinvesting all company profits to update plant machinery, to invest in new technologies, with a strong emphasis on building up the company’s unique skills base through a dedicated apprenticeship scheme and the drive to seek out and service niche markets.

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