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In this installment of the SAAB Spotlight On series, we hear from Toby Peyton-Jones, Director of HR at Siemens Plc, and member of the SAAB Group Board.

What does the company do?

Siemens is a name that many have heard of but few know the real scope of our activity and all the cool stuff we are involved with. We are engineers who understand both the physical and digital world and are engaged in finding solutions to some of the world’s greatest problems.

With climate change and the energy crisis we are working on renewable energy like wind power off the shores of Scotland and storage and distribution solutions. In the future however we will not only be consumers of energy. SMART grid, as it is called, is a revolution in the democratisation of distributed energy and it will involve all of us in a more sustainable way of living.

Already 50% of the world’s population live in cities and this is set to rise to 70%, and manufacturing in UK is making a comeback. So Siemens is working hard on smart cities and smart factories using technology to keep the traffic flowing, the lights on, the trains and factories running and the air fresh. 

The aging demographic means that Health is also high on the agenda for us and we make a variety of Scanners and Diagnostic equipment.

To stay on the front foot in these areas we have research programs developing the latest technologies, many of which are in Scotland, in particular Strathclyde, Glasgow, St. Andrews and Dundee Universities.

We also need to develop the skills to go with them and have over a total workforce in UK of 16,000 with over 300,000 worldwide. It’s a big family and if you get excited about shaping the future of the word we live in for the better, there is no better place to work!

How long have you worked at Siemens?

Over 20 years, but in that time I have had a new Leadership role every few years: from internal consulting to general management, and from Mergers and Acquisitions in Germany to living in China.

What’s a typical day for you?
There’s no such thing!

What is your vision for growing the apprenticeship offer in Scotland?

With Modern Apprenticeships, Scotland already has a lot of good practice to build on, but when we look at the productivity gap it will be building more high quality apprenticeships at levels 3, 4 and 5 that will be key.

There is nothing wrong about level 2 and people are quite rightly getting excited about degree apprenticeships, but if we don’t get the pull through and quality right for the engine room of levels 3, 4 and 5 we will not get the necessary traction in the economy to compete around the world.

Why do you think the work of the Scottish Apprenticeship Advisory Board is important?

An apprenticeship is an employer led model. It combines learning, doing and earning, and it secures the future for both the company and the individual. 

SAAB is a great forum to share the employers’ voices and have them clearly heard, but heard in the context of the other stakeholders needed to make the whole system work.

Toby Peyton-Jones, Director of HR at Siemens Plc, and member of the SAAB Group Board.

What is your biggest business achievement to date?

You would probably have to ask someone else that one! It has been a very natural instinct in every job I have had to build a brilliant team around me... If I have done anything significant it is probably that... and the rest tends to follow.

Which businessperson or company do you most admire and why?

I always admire people running a small business... they create jobs. Maybe only a handful but they put their livelihood and sometimes their house and imagination and mental resourcefulness on the line every day. They are amazing and we should support them more.

What’s on your desk?

I just got one of those workstations that go up and down so I can stand and work or sit and we are seeing more and more of them in the company because well-being is becoming a big issue for us, not just physical well-being but also mental health. Add to that Brexit and finding the skills to grow the business for Siemens plc and the UK overall and you start to get the picture.

Prêt or Starbucks?

Prêt every time.

What did you want to be as a child?

I studied Zoology and wanted to be a park ranger on a safari park.

What three words sum you up?

A bit different.