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Issue 5

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JOURNEY TO EXCELLENCE Integrity/teamwork performance/innovation

Inside this issue

Ian El-Mokadem: introducing our new CEO Helping Qantas: Exova Warringtonfire Coming soon: Excellence Awards


No.5 Asbestos safety Our clients

ailers, local Major high street ret nications mu om authorities, telec oval rem s sto be as , companies re. mo ny contractors, and ma What is Asbestos?

ally Asbestos is a natur resistance Its re. fib g rrin cu oc and sound to heat, electricity used for a ce on s mean it wa , before its variety of purposes h risks, links to serious healt er, were nc ca including lung ulations reg ict Str . discovered tries to un co st mo in ist ex now els of lev prevent dangerous asbestosng isti ex exposure from s. However, containing material nt in a wide asbestos is still prese s. variety of building

How does Exova help?

Exova offers a complete range of asbestos management services. These include carrying out building surveys and risk assessments, planning the maintenance and monitoring of materials, and arranging for safe removal and disposal. Exova experts are frequently called upon to attend properties which have been damaged by fire, partial collapse, or major works, in order to assess the potential danger from exposed asbestoscontaining materials. Exova is also accredited by UKAS for undertaking air monitoring, sampling and fourstage clearance, and for the analysis of bulk samples in our laboratories.

How does Exova make a difference?

Our expert, dedicated asbestos team operates 24 hours-a-day, 7 days-a-week, 365 days-ayear, to ensure any asbestosrelated issues can be dealt with quickly, effectively and with total confidence, minimising any potential health risks and, ultimately, protecting lives.


con t e n t s p4 mapshots

p18 the bigger picture

Highlights and happenings from our facilities across the globe

How Exova Warringtonfire Australia solved a riddle for Qantas

p6 interview

p20 excellence awards

New CEO Ian 'Elmo' El-Mokadem outlines his vision for Exova Group

We profile three of the many nominees for the 2011 Exova Excellence Awards

p8 the americas

p22 personally speaking

The first of our new series profiling the regions that make up our Group

Dr Neil Trigwell on the irresistable pull of change and challenge

Fr o m t h e E di t or Welcome to the fifth issue of The Exova Magazine, packed, as always, with news, views and developments from across the Group. Among the highlights of this issue are an interview with our new CEO and a sneak peek at some nominations for the forthcoming Excellence Awards, not to mention a special focus on CLAIRE PURVES our Americas region – read on to find out about some of the exciting projects being carried out by our teams across North America. As always, I hope you enjoy the magazine, and please do get in touch with any comments or feedback. Claire.Purves@Exova.com

Published by Exova in association with White Light Media. www.whitelightmedia.co.uk Editorial: Fraser Allen & Liz Longden Design: Adam Wilson. Members of APA and PPA. Exova, Queen Anne Drive, Newbridge Midlothian EH28 8LP. www.exova.com

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MAPshots

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1 Helping out ‘Homewreckers’ (Canada) Exova Surrey was recently called in for an unusual project – to help out on ‘Homewreckers’ TV show, broadcast on Canada’s W Network. Exova Senior Microbiologist Chris Enick was tasked with ascertaining whether sewage had contaminated a domestic water supply.

2 Exova in Oman (Oman) More than 100 guests recently attended the opening of Exova’s new facility in Oman. The UKAS-accredited laboratory is capable of providing a wide range of testing and analytical services and is the largest in the sultanate.

3 Award for Exova man (UK) Pipeline expert Dr Ken Murphy has been honoured with a prestigious award for his technical paper on a microwave-based non-destructive testing method. Ken received the Pipeline Industries Guild’s bi-annual JW Jones Memorial Award.

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4 Teamwork down under (Australia) Excellent teamwork was recently demonstrated by Exova Warringtonfire (Aus), with fire safety consultants and lab staff working seamlessly to carry out tests which involved setting a 6m-high blaze. The tests are part of a complex project which will ultimately lead to the development of guidelines for the design of combustible facades.


Contracts, awards, openings and accolades – a quick summary of some of the developments from across Exova Group

7 Exova oversees casino first (Vietnam) Opening in 2013, the MGM Grand Integrated Resort in Ho Tram, will see the construction of a luxury hotel, entertainment and gaming facilities – a first for Vietnam. Exova has been appointed primary fire safety expert for the project, providing fire and life safety design consultation, material selection review and local regulatory advice.

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5 Prestigious Indian contract wins (India) Exova Warringtonfire Consulting, Middle East, has been appointed fire safety consultants for the Senapati Bapat Marg, a complex of six high-rise towers, and the Seawoods integrated commercial complex.

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6 More on offer in Aberdeen (UK) Exova Aberdeen has expanded its range of services, to include fracture mechanics testing for international offshore clients. Elevated tensile testing and crack tip open displacement testing have also been added, along with a scanning electron microscope.

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Interview | Ian el-mokAdem

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Switching the compass You may know that our new CEO was a big success at catering giant Compass, but did you know that he also went to school in Baghdad – and once took Tony Blair shoe shopping? Ian El-Mokadem introduces himself

What attracted you to Exova?

It’s a great business. I’ve worked in service businesses throughout my career and one of the keys to success is the quality of the people and the reputation they generate. From what I've seen so far, Exova has a great reputation for talented people, which puts us in a strong position. Secondly, it’s an exciting time for the business, with good growth opportunities – and I enjoy growing businesses. And finally, Clayton, Dubilier & Rice is a private equity firm with an excellent reputation. Put all those together, and the job was very attractive. You made a big impact at Compass. What did you learn there?

On my first day there, somebody said to me: “You will find it easy to come up with hundreds of things you could do to improve this business, but the hard thing is to come up with the five that you will be able to follow through successfully.” That’s one of the best pieces of advice I’ve been given. There are lots of opportunities for this business, but we can’t pursue all of them. The key is to pick the best ones and pursue them with focus, passion and energy. What are your current priorities?

The initial priority is to learn the business by meeting as many people as possible across the different countries and sector teams, and to understand our customers. My initial aim will be to listen – I think that’s the best place to start as a new CEO. Then I want us to work as a team to pinpoint the key growth opportunities

Portrait: Angus Forbes

and to develop our performance management culture so that we become really good at delivering the priorities that we’ve agreed. Whilst we’re doing all of that, I’d like to use this opportunity to ask everyone to remain focused on Health and Safety. As I’ve been touring the business, I’ve seen some great practice but also some opportunities to share that best practice. Running a safe, responsible operation is something that matters a lot to me. Who inspires you?

Sir Roy Gardner is someone that I've worked with for a long time. He was my boss at Centrica and my Chairman at Compass – a very successful businessperson and a very decent guy. I’ve learnt a great deal from working with him. Also, at Compass, some of our most inspiring people were our young apprentices. I loved the passion and enthusiasm for the business that many of them showed. I think you can be inspired by anybody who is sincere and has lots of energy and determination. It has nothing to do with their status or role. Where did you grow up?

All over the place! I’m half Egyptian – my Dad was born in Egypt and met my mother at Manchester University. As a kid, I was educated in northwest England, in Ohio in the States, in Baghdad, and then we finally settled down near London. I remember my time in Baghdad vividly. I attended an international school with children from all over the world. It was a very happy

period of talking, reading and playing board games (the TV was rubbish!). As a family we were very sad to leave. Moving around like that at a young age was very good for me. I learnt early on to be flexible and to appreciate that all cultures can learn from one another. I think that’s very relevant in an international business like ours. Where are you most likely to be–– found on a Saturday afternoon?

On a boat, somewhere on the River Hamble in Hampshire. I passed my Yachtmaster exams just before I started here, and have had a boat for a few years – it’s something we really enjoy doing as a family. My wife Kate and I have two children and we go out and crew the boat together. We crossed the English Channel several times last summer, which was quite an adventure. Tell us something surprising.

I once took Tony and Cherie Blair shoe shopping in France. I was at a Business School just outside Paris and we’d invited Tony Blair to speak, just before he became leader of the Labour party. He’d been on holiday and agreed to stop off in Paris on the way home. I picked him up from Charles De Gaulle airport in my little Renault Clio and, as we chatted, he realised he’d forgotten to pack shoes for his suit. We stopped at Marks & Spencer to buy a pair! should colleagues call you Ian or your widely used nickname of ‘Elmo’?

Interchangeable, I’m happy with either l

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Focus on | The Americas

The land of opportunity From the Canadian Arctic tundra to the Mexican desert, North America is a land of astonishing contrasts. Spanning four time zones and ten sectors, Exova Americas is no less diverse. From aerospace to algae, hair products to hydrogen cells, we take a look at a some of our work 'out west'


Focus on | The Americas

Los Angeles, USA. California is home to Exova Santa Fe Springs, one of 31 Exova facilities in The Americas


Focus on | The Americas

Mercury in sweets, lead in babies’ bibs, arsenic in health supplements, formaldehyde in hair products‌ toxic contaminants can find their way into just about every area of our lives. Eric Lindsay, General Manager of Exova Santa Fe Springs, explains how his team helps safeguard consumers worldwide

Pictures: Ben Dome

Santa Fe Springs, health sciences

Eric Lindsay, General Manager

Amanda Elchert mixing chemicals in Wet Chemistry

Mike Shelton, Technical Director, working on LCMS

factfile

Established 1984 Field High-tech analytical chemistry Employees 45 Size 35,000 sq feet Projected annual revenue $9M


Matt Blabon, preparing water samples for extracting organic compounds

EM Can you give me a bit of background about the lab? EL About half of our work is general chemistry, spectroscopy and testing for organic compounds, such as flame retardants, formaldehyde and pesticides. The other half is testing for trace metals – most of the time we’re looking for lead, arsenic, cadmium, and mercury. EM What kind of products have you tested? EL We’ve found high levels of lead and other toxic compounds in baby bibs, candy, cosmetics, exercise mats, glassware, jewellery, lunch boxes, sunscreen, toys, espresso machines – to name just a few! Current projects we’re working on include testing medical devices for residual solvents, rat brains for silicon, fish oil for PCBs, hair products for formaldehyde, as well as testing the water content in heart valves made from animal tissue for implanting into

human patients. We get products in here that no one has ever tested before. EM How do toxic substances get into these products? EL Trace levels of these contaminants can be fairly common, and contamination will come from either the raw materials used or the manufacturing process. Overall, toxic levels of contamination seem to be less frequent as more countries get on board with updated regulations. Even so, at times we see very high levels that are obviously due to manufacturers trying to cut corners and flaunt the regulations. EM What kind of health risks do these contaminants pose? EL It will depend on the level – trace levels aren’t always toxic, and it’s important to consider the amount of exposure per day. But, in general, ingesting high levels of lead or other

toxic substances can lead to learning disabilities, interference with the development of the nervous system, and damage to internal organs and bones. EM Do you work in partnership with other Exova labs? EL Yes. So far, we have performed work for over 20 Exova labs in the Americas, and, since we’re known by clients throughout the world, we’ve been able to refer them to our sister labs in the Middle East, Asia, and Europe. We have also provided training to employees from the Portland Aerospace lab and the Mississauga Pharma lab, and performed method development work for the Aerospace division. We also work with the Food and Drug Adminstration (FDA), and with the United States Pharmacopeia (USP). We’re proud to be able to share Exova’s expertise with national regulators and to play our part in helping to make our world safer.

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Focus on | The Americas

Over 500km inland, surfers enjoy the waves on the St. Lawrence River, Montreal

Sainte-Foy, microbiology T

he majestic Saint Lawrence River flows over 1,000 miles through eastern Canada, linking the Great Lakes and heading out towards the vast expanse of the North Atlantic. It is a rich natural habitat, home to a vast range of plants, fish and birds, as well as dolphins, seals and whales. But trouble lies beneath the surface of the water. Years of industrial activity throughout the 20th century have led to large amounts of toxic effluents being released into the river, causing the contamination of areas of the river bed. While such effluents have been subject to strict regulations since 1990, contaminants released before this date, including substances such as PCBs and mercury, still lie in the sediment of the Saint Lawrence, posing a potential threat to the area’s wildlife and ecosystem. Cleaning up contaminated sediment is a vital

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process, but one which is both difficult and costly, and the problem is two-fold: first, the worst affected areas must be identified to ensure clean-up resources are applied in the most effective way; once that is done, ways must be found to remove the poisonous sediment safely. The Exova Sainte-Foy lab, which specialises in environmental chemistry, microbiology and ecotoxicology, has been playing a key role in helping to assess the situation and clean up the river, by carrying out chemical and toxicity tests not only on sediment of the Saint Lawrence, but also on the river’s wildlife and vegetation. More specifically, the lab has developed and adapted chemical methods for testing the flesh of resident fish and mussels. This is important to establish whether or not sediment contamination has passed into the food chain, and, if so, to what extent. The lab is also helping to assess

the potential contaminants of sediments for adequate management during restructuring and maintenance work carried out in harbours along the river. Among the different methods used to determine contaminants in sediment, one of the main, and most eyecatching, techniques is that of using bioluminescent bacteria. Naturally producing a striking light as part of their normal metabolism, the bacteria become increasingly less luminous as toxic levels increase, permitting the Sainte-Foy team to quantify levels of contamination. With the lab enjoying a longstanding and trusted relationship with the federal Canadian authorities and many private consulting firms, these different projects have enabled the Sainte-Foy team to further enhance their already considerable expertise, meaning Exova has become one of the leading authorities in this field.


Calgary, fluids analysis W

hen reporters from a local newspaper turned up on the doorstep with a tepid glass of flat beer, it was certainly one of the more unusual enquiries that Exova Calgary has received. The beer of the Calgary’s Saddledome stadium – home of the Calgary Flames ice hockey team – has long been rumoured to have heroin-like effects, with drinkers reporting it to be more potent than an average lager. Determined to test the claim, The Calgary Sun therefore smuggled a sample of the brew out of the stadium, and asked Exova Calgary to assess its alcohol content. “Testing for alcohol in beverages is not one of the core services we offer, but we were approached by the local newspaper so we agreed as a one-off,” explains Mike Yohemas. Disappointingly

THE AMERICAS BY NUMBERS

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for Flames’ fans, the Exova team found the beer to contain around 4.9% alcohol. While the testing of the Saddledome beer was a fun and somewhat ‘unofficial’ test, Calgary carries out a wide range of more serious work. Specialising in the testing of environmental organic chemistry, as well as microbiological and food chemistry, the lab more typically tests soil, water, air and food for common chemical and biological contaminants. Other interesting non-routine projects the lab has worked on include tests on the bacteria and mould found in the underside of grocery display cases, the testing of hydrogen fuel cells for contamination, pesticide analysis on fresh herbs marketed as organic, and the testing of milkshake machines in a well-known fast food outlet.

the percentage of the Earth’s land surface covered by North America

529,000,000 the estimated population of North America in 2008

38

the percentage of Exova Group’s global revenues generated by the Americas

1996

the year the first Exova Americas facility was purchased, in Houston, Texas

$1,000,000 approximate sales revenue generated by Exova Americas in 1997

31 the number of sites that currently make up Exova Americas

10

the number of industry sectors serviced by Exova Americas

$140,000,000 Calgary Flames fans inside the Saddledome

approximate sales revenues generated by Exova Americas in 2011


Focus on | The Americas

Monterrey, mechanical and metallurgy

S

ituated in the north-east of Mexico, about 100 miles from the US border, the Monterrey lab opened in 2007 as a result of a long-term agreement to supply the full testing needs of Frisa, a major supplier to the aerospace industry. Because of this unique arrangement, the facility carries out a full suite of mechanical, metallographic and non-destructive testing (NDT), and all of its processes are approved by NADCAP, as well as by the major aerospace original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). In fact, despite having just 13 full-time permanent staff, the facility is the only NADCAP-approved commercial laboratory in Mexico. Its clients go further afield too, to the southern states of the USA, and even as far as France. Around 80% of its work is focused on testing steel rings which go to make up the inside of aircraft engines, and which can be as large as seven feet in diameter. Yet it’s not all about planes.

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Next time you fly across the ocean, rest assured. There’s a good chance that some of the most important components in the engine were tested by Exova’s Monterrey facility in Mexico

Thanks to its collaboration with other labs in the Americas, the facility is also able to service clients from a broad range of sectors, as Claudia Figueroa, Operations Manager, explains: “Although this lab was built mainly for Frisa, we have other, non-aerospace customers in the area who require other kinds of testing. We’re able to subcontract a lot of this work out to other Exova labs, for example in Houston, Glendale Heights, and Mississauga,” she says. “This adds value to our potential customers, because it means they can deal with a local laboratory, in their country, with people who speak their language.”

The Americas by Sector n Aerospace 16.68% n Engines & Transportation 8.36% n General Engineering Materials Sector 11.53% n Automotive Products Sector 5.44% n Building Products Sector 4.22 % n Pharmaceuticals 11.72% n Environmental, General Sector 18.17% n Oil and Gas Environmental Sector 15.57% n Oil &Gas Material Testing Sector 6.36 n Food 1.94%

%


It basically comes down to attitude and choice Increasing lab revenue during a global recession is a tough task. But, having battled back from serious injury, Mike Hooey has learnt that no challenge is insurmountable

I

t’s been a long winter in Alberta, Canada, and the mercury is registering minus 22 degrees when Mike Hooey starts his day at the Drayton Valley facility – a small lab, which carries out analysis of the products and by-products of oil and gas drilling. It’s bitterly cold, but Mike isn’t complaining. Instead, he points out that the icy weather ensures that drilling can continue, meaning business is good. It’s a typically pragmatic response, from someone who refuses to dwell on negatives. In June 2008, Mike flipped backwards going up a hill on his ATV quad, snapping his spine. Subsequent spinal cysts further reduced his mobility, and today he has full movement only in his head, neck and both arms. Many people, faced with such devastating injuries, might give in to despair. But, for Mike, that wasn’t an option. “The truth is that you really only have two choices – to dwell on what you lost, or to move ahead,” he says. “The average depression with this type of injury is around seven years, but, as the sole breadwinner of the family, I had kids and a wife counting on me – that was my motivation right there.” The support of his wife, Diane, was also vital. “She was amazing the whole time,” Mike says. “Having her by my side and seeing her commitment to me and to our family couldn’t help but motivate me.”

Mike therefore set about his rehabilitation – a long and ongoing process that has involved coming to terms not only with his paralysis, but also with the practical difficulties of how to protect his body from further injury. One thing that has helped is getting back to doing the things he loves – a keen hunter, Mike has an all-terrain vehicle with hand controls that ensures he can get out and enjoy the stunning Canadian countryside with his sons. Another is work – after Exova arranged for the Drayton Valley lab to be specially adapted, Mike returned to his position as Operations Manager just 18 months after his accident. It’s testament to the mutual commitment that exists between Mike and Exova. “Work has been very supportive. I could work a few hours here, and a few hours there, and, that way, slowly work my way back,” he says. “And coming back to work has actually helped, because when you’re busy at work, getting things done, you don’t have time to dwell on other things.”

It’s an astonishing achievement, and even more impressive are the results that Mike and his team have achieved since he came back. Between November 2009 and January 2010 Drayton Valley’s safety index went from -3600 to +3100, and the quality index has jumped up by 16,920 points. The lab is now bringing in revenues of around $1.2m net sales, and reached an EBITDA of 38.7%. Mike puts the achievement down to a combination of a boom in oil drilling in Alberta, and having a hard-working, flexible and multi-skilled team. “Although we have just six or seven people working here at a time, I’ve always cross-trained people. That way everyone understands each job, and is constantly trying new things, and it also gives us flexibility and coverage,” he explains. “The market is looking good here for oil at the moment, so we want to keep the revenue growing and make the most of it. Finances this year are already looking really good, so there are a lot of opportunities for us.”

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Focus on | The Americas

Perpetual otion Dr. Dean Oppermann, Navistar International’s Advanced Technologies Manager, explains how Exova helps one of the world’s leading manufacturers of vehicles to keep moving forward Moving the planet

Breathing space

Navistar International Corporation is a global company, with manufacturing operations in five countries and $12.1 billion in annual revenues. We build trucks, engines, parts, and provide financial services for those vehicles. Our products include commercial and military trucks, buses, recreational vehicles, utility chassis and diesel engines.

Governments impose strict limits on vehicle emissions, and we’re exploring ways in which we can keep nitrogen oxides, or ‘NOx’, as low as possible. This will not only meet these regulations, but will also make things better for both the environment and for the customer. Right now we’re working closely with Exova on a solution that is absolutely groundbreaking. It’s certainly the most challenging project I’ve ever worked on – we’re pushing new boundaries daily – and Exova is integral to the project. They’re in on the ground floor, learning with us.

The next generation

Navistar has always been at the forefront of technology for the diesel industry. One example of this is a programme I worked on ten years ago. A conventional engine has a series of air valves, which are controlled by a rotating cam. The opening and closing timing of the valves is fixed, and depends on the shape of the cam. I was lead development engineer on a project to develop a new engine with an electro-hydraulic ‘camless’ system. This allowed us to run a wide range of valve timings, according to different RPMs, fuel, load, altitude and transient conditions, and we were able to demonstrate increased performance, reduced emissions, quiet shut down, variable engine braking, and many more benefits. To prove its durability, we drove the engine across the US, from Chicago, to California, to New York City, and back to Chicago – a journey of around 4,000 miles. The glass half full

One of the most important ingredients for success is positive thinking. Even at successful companies, it’s amazing how many people feel it’s their job to point out all the problems. It is important to understand the problems, but it’s much more important to come up with a solution. To be successful you have to keep believing that you can figure out that solution.

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Trust and transparency

Since my team began working with Exova in 2008, our relationship has grown considerably, to the point where their team has become an extension of my team. For me, the secret is constant and open communication. We have complete confidence that we are in a confidential environment, and that means we can have a continuous, open dialogue, with daily engineering teleconferences. And we listen to Exova as much as they listen to us. Expert assistance

What sets Exova apart from many of its competitors, first, is their engineering support, and their ability to meticulously calibrate and understand changes that are happening in the engine. Secondly, it’s their technician support – we can send in prototype hardware and their team will not only figure out how to fit it onto an engine in a way that doesn’t affect its performance, but they’ll do it with a very quick turnaround time. Their capabilities allow us to do our job quickly and effectively. I can honestly say that it would take us twice as long to do with anyone else. Exova go out of their way for us – and you see it in the results l


Portrait: Blair Lawrence

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The bigger picture The Qantas large heavy maintenance aircraft hangar, Brisbane Airport Exova Warringtonfire Australia were called in by Qantas to diagnose and correct an unexplained fault in the hangar’s infra-red flame detection system, which was causing the false triggering of the low level foam suppression system. Following a series of thorough site inspections and consultations, the Exova team identified an interfering source of radiation, likely to be solar, and modified the system’s design to prevent future false alarms – saving significant business disruption, clean-up costs and potential environmental impact. leti sh Pasu s: Akle Picture

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2,000 miles

LOCATOR COUNTRY: Australia CITY: Brisbane

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JOURNEY TO EXCELLENCE

In search of excellence. The first ever Exova Excellence Chief Executive Awards will be announced in July 2011. We take a look at three of the many employees who have been nominated for Sector and Regional recognition. nnovation, teamwork, performance – three of our key values that help Exova to excel as one of the world’s most trusted providers of testing and advisory services. The Exova Excellence Awards have been introduced to highlight and showcase the many excellent examples of these values demonstrated by Exova employees. From the development of innovative technology to the implementation of Lean; from going to extra mile to help colleagues, to handling a difficult management situation – the awards recognise the contributions of people from our team at every level, in every sector and in every region who have made a difference in delivering outstanding customer service and making the world a safer place.

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Muhammed 'Naz' Nazir

Josh Hiemstra

Sector: Regional HSEQ Region: Middle East Nominated by: Huw Woodyatt

Sector: Environmental Location: Canada Nominated by: Karen Schmidt

In mid-March, a 5% increase in prices for the Americas was introduced, for which Josh was given management responsibility. The change entailed a significant amount of time, organisation and troubleshooting, not to mention excellent communication and follow-up with clients, the Business Development group, Client Services and senior managers. Josh was extremely diligent in the implementation and management of this process, ensuring that clients experienced a minimal impact. As a result of his hard work, Exova received very little negative feedback and very few invoice corrections or re-issues. “Although a 5% price increase sounds relatively simple, it had the potential to be a logistic nightmare, affecting client relationships and, ultimately, Exova's reputation. Josh spent countless hours working on this special project to ensure the change was a positive one. He is a team player with exceptional communication skills. He did an exceptional job keeping on top of the updates and workload requirements, keeping all of those involved throughout the process” – Karen Schmidt, Business Development, Americas

Tomas Nordqvist Sector: General Engineering Region: Europe Nominated by: Goran Åkerberg

Tomas was called upon to carry out microstructure investigations, in challenging climatic conditions, on an oil platform off the shore of Angola. Despite his equipment being held back by customs and excise officials, Tomas and his co-worker continued regardless, borrowing equipment to ensure they could get started. When the job was delayed, Tomas agreed to extend his stay over Christmas – the second year running that he had spent the festive season working off-shore. “The client was both very grateful and very impressed by Tomas’s efforts. They have ordered additional investigations on the platform and requested Tomas personally for the job” – Goran Åkerberg, Operational Manager, Karlskoga

When a number of key chemistry instruments were rendered inoperable due to breakdown or, in some cases, accidental damage, it posed a major operational challenge to the Middle East business – many of the external service support engineers were either unable to repair the equipment, or else offered either extremely expensive solutions, with unacceptable periods of equipment downtime. Working on his own initiative, Instrumentation Engineer Naz sourced plans of instrumentation components, analysed their workings, and re-manufactured faulty parts – sourcing materials either from everyday electrical suppliers, or from scavenged electrical appliances. This work required long hours, to ensure the equipment was functioning correctly and calibrating to the highest standards, but Naz’s commitment ensured he was able to get the job done. “Naz’s ingenuity and resourcefulness have saved the organisation a large amount of money and managed to keep our instrumentation operational, thus enabling continuity of service to our clients” – Huw Woodyatt, Regional Compliance Director, Middle East/Asia

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personally speaking

Dr Neil Trigwell, standing by a Corrosion Fatigue Rig. The apparatus is used to test the resistance to metal fatigue in conditions simulating those experienced by sub-sea pipelines and umbilicals Portrait: Simon Hadley


Our clients are taking on some phenomenal challenges, things which seem almost impossible – its marvellous to see and be a part of Dr Neil Trigwell heads up Exova’s Technology Transfer team of specialists. Based in Daventry, in the UK, he travels the world, expanding and improving existing services, and fast-tracking these into new sites Technology Transfer is about harmonising best practice, evaluating new technologies, and generally providing technical support across the group. We work across all the regions, so there’s a fair bit of travel involved, and it can get us into some pretty wild ranging activities. I originally wanted to be a researcher. My first degree was in metallurgy, and I did a doctorate in fracture mechanics, working in the nuclear side of power generation. However, I wanted to get some experience working for a small company, because I felt you get a better view of the totality of the business in a smaller organisation, so I took up the offer to join a small independent testing lab in Daventry. I planned to return to research in a couple of years,

but 31 years later I’ve still got a desk here. The reason I‘ve stayed is that there’s been such a variety and diversity of work – every time you think it might be time for a move, the job or the challenges change, and that’s very motivating. I love technical challenges. That was what inspired me to become an engineer and it’s what still inspires me now. Some of our clients are taking on some phenomenal challenges, things which seem almost impossible – its marvellous to see, and great to be working with them to develop the solutions. Outside of work, I do some work with disabled people at an outward bound centre, and I get the same satisfaction – seeing someone with a disability taking on and achieving something that they didn’t think they could do, whether it’s rock climbing or canoeing, is fantastic. It’s essential to keep an open mind. If you approach a challenge with preconceptions, you’ll soon see it doesn’t work. Equally important is the ability to listen and observe – you will never be able to get to grips with a problem unless you can do that. The best thing about my career has been the diversity of projects I’ve worked on. One of the most impressive was the testing of a quarter-scale model of an oil rig leg, which was around 12m by 12m by 6m. These rigs

are designed to withstand the biggest wave they’d expect in 100 years, so we had to apply large mechanical loads to the structure, using hydraulic actuators to simulate this force. Other programmes I’ve been involved with include testing suspension and steering systems for buses and trucks; the testing of missile systems for aircraft; and the setting up of Greenfield laboratories across the world. The need to focus on the positives in people is one of the most important lessons I’ve learnt from my career. There can be a tendency to pick up initially on the negative aspects of a person, but if you can put that aside and focus on what positive things someone can bring, then you will get a lot more benefit. Other lessons I learnt are: be honest with people; don’t put off the difficult decisions; and there’s no monopoly on good ideas – they can come from anyone and anywhere. There are exciting times ahead. The creation of the role of Group Technical Director and the technical alignment of our business globally by discipline will enable us to bring more coordination, and give us the opportunity to leverage our technical strengths much more effectively. It will also allow us to better develop our technical people and provide them with fresh opportunities. It’s a true milestone in our corporate development and another step to bringing us much closer together as a group l

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Exova In the news

Cork, Ireland 28 March 2011 Exova Metlab was called in to help by Cork City Council, after a burst water main left thousands of homes without water, and flood waters of up to a metre high gushing through the streets. Exova Metlab carried out preliminary on-site NDT testing, before sending pipe sections weighing over 1,000kg to Exova Utilities in Salford, the UK. Picture: Examiner Publications LTD

The Exova Magazine - Issue 5  

This issue focuses on The Americas sector, and reveals the forthcoming Excellence Awards.

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