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MCA Award 2021 Winner – People Category, for our work with Tata Steel Strip UK

MCA Award 2021 Winner – People Category, for our work with Tata Steel Strip UK

“This award is the recognition that SOE® works. That 4,000 people came on a journey and opened themselves up to change. Helping people unlock their potential and become happier, smarter and more engaged gets us out of bed in the morning!”

Greig Walker, Managing Director, U&E

We’re thrilled and somewhat blown away to have won this award! We want to thank Tata Steel for believing in the potential of their people and trusting in their talent. And we’d like to thank our team for their hard work and commitment and for believing and trusting in SOE®.

When we took SOE® to Tata Steel we needed to deploy at scale and make an impact fast, people needed to feel better. Tata Steel was one of the biggest organisations to take on SOE® and we worked with one works area at a time until it joined up, with everyone recognising they were a cog in the machine and understanding their part and common goal. Now when records are broken the entire value chain breaks them.

Image 1 – Tom Candy, John Kilner, Zebby Clemons, Alex Lewis, Dave Bright, Greig Walker, Jason Francis, Neville Boulds



The MCA Awards have been an important event in the UK consulting calendar for over 24 years. Each year, they demonstrate the true value of consulting to both the private and public sectors and the impact consulting has on our society.



Steel underpins our lives from where we live and work to major infrastructure, defence and national security, generating tremendous value for the UK. This steel backbone means the economy is much more independent and has much more control over the national infrastructure.

With more than £2 billion turnover and sales of 3 million tonnes, Tata Steel is the UK’s largest steel producer and one of the largest in Europe. Amongst its more than 8,000 employees, there are three and four generations of steelworkers; its success is a key driver for regional economic growth, prosperity and opportunity.

After several difficult years, including an existential crisis where the parent company had tried to offload the business, the Executive at Port Talbot recognised that low morale and employee disengagement amongst their workforce was affecting competitiveness and stability. They estimated they had 2-years to improve. They’d spent time developing an improvement approach but struggled to embed it meaningfully. Although everyone wanted success, views, behaviours and attitudes were entrenched and having worked with other consultancies there were high levels of scepticism and fatigue.

Working with the Executive we agreed that our Sustainable Operational Excellence (SOE®) solution would provide the impact they were looking for. SOE® empowers employees at all levels to incorporate simple, often familiar tools through high-intensity coaching. This raises employee engagement and improves performance, unleashing the potential in everyone. The collective new habits transform the culture of the organisation and everyone feels happier.

During 2019 we delivered SOE® to each area of Tata Steel’s value chain in fast-paced 14-week transformations. We helped the leaders build belief, enable empowerment and coach their teams to create the system themselves. This ownership of the solution ensures that it sticks, as people protect what they build.

Our experiences are common across all areas of Tata Steel and Hot Rolled Products (HRP) is typical. HRP wanted a way of working for their 489 people which increased employee engagement, improved leadership and changed their culture. This new way of working turned previous change programmes on their head and delivered engagement gains and cultural change that included:

“We took everyone offline to create their area’s vision, many had only worked in their area in 30+ years but whether they worked in the furnace, hot mills or coils they began to realise they had the same issues and successes. They were a cog in the gearbox and they understood their part, their common goal. We’ve been on the verge of closing since 2003. There’s a lot out of our control, we can’t perform our way out of this but within our means, we have levers we can pull to do our best. And when records are broken the entire value chain breaks them.”

Carl Banfield – Works Manager, Hot Rolled Products, Tata Steel.

You can read more about our work with Tata Steel here