Keith Merrie, Divisional HSE Director

Darren has made a big difference to Health, Safety and Leadership across our business. Essentra senior management team from the CEO, MD and directors have nothing but praise for Darren and his delivery style. The huge step-change in H&S leadership across the Essentra Group has come about from the Leadership into Action course he delivers – Visible Felt Leadership – and it’s a very important part of the H&S business jigsaw.

Visible Felt Leadership isn’t a normal training and development programme. There’s a genuine commitment built into the course for each delegate. Each person comes up with three to five business objectives for which they take personal responsibility – and they stick to this commitment, which is managed and monitored.

Before VFL site management teams would work hard in their offices and meeting room environment, working and meeting customers. After VFL all Site managers now know they have a factory attached to their office. This is one of our biggest investments in people and it’s delivering results right across the business in Europe and Asia. There’s no doubt about it – it’s working.

Visible, Felt, Leadership is a two-day leadership course and it’s very popular. But we also deliver a one-day VFL Lite course to senior managers, junior managers – and to the shop floor, for people who aspire to become managers or supervisors. What also helps is that, on site, the training is delivered in their language. It’s being rolled out all over the world – in India, Poland, Italy and Germany.

Leadership within the business has changed – and everyone is playing their part in making this change happen. Leaders know they have to ‘cast their Leadership shadow’. I’ll often ask my team and managers an important question ‘are you all on the health and safety bus’?

Three years ago, health and safety performance across the Packaging Division was not good. Travelling across the 18 sites – H&S was like a dessert with the occasional burning bush (incident). Now, travelling across the sites – H&S has green grass, trees and is really developing. That’s what Darren has helped us achieve in two-years.

Darren has fantastic empathy. And he listens – he’s a proactive listener and not many people can do that. He tells you in a nice kind way, the best way to put things right. What we really need is his twin brother. There’s not enough of him to go around. If everyone did what Darren told them to do, he’d be out of a job because everyone would be so good, they wouldn’t have a need for him or his services.

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