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7 Questions with Lee Newman
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7 Questions with Lee Newman
Name: Lee Newman
Current title: Group CEO
Current organisation: VPS Group
Lee joined VPS as Group CEO in March 2018 having held a number of senior positions leading both Listed and Private businesses, including;
- Group CEO – VPS Group – Europeans leading temporary security specialist
- Chairman – RSD Group – Sector specialist search & consultancy firm
- CEO of Elliott Group - UK’s leading provider of relocatable buildings
- Co-founding CEO of ilke Homes, the UK modular house builder
- Managing Director of Wolseley UK — Pipe & Climate Center, the largest distribution business in the heating and cooling products industry
- Group Operations Director at HSS Hire, the UK & Ireland’s national supplier of equipment and tool hire
Prior to corporate life, Lee spent 14 years as an International Athlete representing Wales and Great Britain in Shot Put and Discus throw. Health, fitness and wellbeing continue to play an important part in his day to day life.
1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?
Ensuring that we maintain colleague and customer intimacy. The larger the organisation becomes the greater the risk of drifting away from where value creation and sustainability actually happens.
2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I have never had a specific career plan. Since I retired from full time sport as an unqualified 30 year old I have focused on working hard, delivering results, treating customers and colleagues fairly and remaining coachable. By doing this, good opportunities have come my way.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
Depending on my travel requirements, I tend to structure my day from an early start. I am usually up at 4am and get a couple of hours exercise in before breakfast and like to clear my emails down early. I concentrate morning activities up to lunch time on meetings that require more creativity or human intervention. I prefer to lunch alone or with a single colleague and then in the afternoon focus on meetings that are less creative, more number crunching or iterative as I tend to recharge my batteries here. I work through until dinner time and pre-pandemic would have dinner out every weekday evening with either clients or colleagues. I would usually be done by 10pm and clear down my emails again before sleep by 11pm. I work very long days in the week and protect my weekend time for family.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
The pandemic has really demonstrated that investing in and protecting the mental health and well being of our colleagues is not just the right thing to do morally it also drives tangible bottom line benefit.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
5 Dysfunctions of a Team - very simple book with powerful messages in an easy to read story format.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?
Focus on internal talent identification and augment with external hires. The critical lenses are ensuring you are inclusive and recruit diverse talent to bring balance to a team (do not keep recruiting in your own organisational likeness) and ensure you have a clear leadership culture - for us that is trust, empowered and attention to results.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?
The power of the job title, when your title makes you sound important, ensure that everyone else around you knows they are important too. I may very often be the decision maker in many situations but that doesnt mean I know best, my job is to listen to others and work to understand what will be best