Colin LAWTHER - Senior Vice President, responsible for Manufacturing, Supply Chain Management and Purchasing in Europe
Who is Colin?
A love of Chemistry, coupled with a Masters Degree in Materials Engineering and Colin's diverse professional background makes him perfectly suited to his current position at Nissan as Senior Vice President for Manufacturing, Supply Chain Management and Purchasing in Europe, given it's a role that that touches every part of the process of building a car. With ultimate responsibility for the manufacturing and supply chain functions, overseeing 12,000 employees across the UK, Spain and Russia in production, engineering, quality, purchasing and supply chain management, Colin's role also involves integration with marketing, sales and finance.
This breadth of responsibility means no two days are the same at Nissan - one day Colin may be looking at a new product concept or attending a business review meeting and the next, he's hot footing it to Spain or Russia to meet the shop floor workers or heading down to the Nissan Technical Centre in Cranfield, UK to catch up with the product engineering and purchasing teams there.
Colin is driven by the success of Nissan's European manufacturing plants and his personal ambitions include seeing the Sunderland plant continue to push production targets and helping the plants in Russia and Spain to ramp up production to become centres of manufacturing excellence in their respective geographies.
Heralding from North East England, Nissan's manufacturing heartland in the UK, Colin began his career in 1977 as a research and development chemist at GEC Cable Division before joining Thomas Swann Chemical Company in 1984 as a technical shift manager. In 1985, Colin was propelled into the automotive sphere when he joined Nissan as a key worker responsible for setting up the laboratory function and evaluating and localising European materials and components.
After 23 years with the company based in Sunderland, Colin left behind his North East roots and moved to Rolle, Switzerland as Vice President Production Engineering & Quality Engineering for Nissan Europe. In March 2013, Colin was appointed Vice President for Monozukuri in Nissan's Africa, Middle East and India region, before returning to the European business in 2014 as Senior Vice President for Manufacturing, Purchasing and Supply Chain Management. Colin now divides his time between the UK and Switzerland with frequent visits to Nissan's key manufacturing centres in Russia and Spain.
Achievements at Nissan
Colin was Vice President Production Engineering & Quality Engineering NE at the time of the groundbreaking ceremony for Nissan's production plant in St Petersburg, Russia which today, has the potential to become a centre of excellence in Russian car manufacturing. Seeing the site develop from what was essentially a forest to what it is today is something Colin cites as being a personal and emotional highlight of his career so far at Nissan.
Nissan's Sunderland Plant is close to home for Colin having spent over 20 years at the plant in various roles. It's this personal affinity with the "mother plant," that defines one of his most vivid memories - the start of production of Nissan's now best-selling car, the Nissan Qashqai. The Qashqai was born at a time when Nissan's Sunderland Plant was still finding its feet and trying to ramp up capacity. Colin credits the "Qashqai revolution" as helping to "revitalise" the Sunderland Plant in a time of crisis and remembers this period fondly as being a major turning point in Nissan's fortunes in Europe.
Why is Nissan different
Colin cites Nissan's commitment to the "exporting" of knowledge between countries, production facilities and team members as being a critical differentiator for the brand. Talent swaps regularly take place between management in Spain, Russia, Africa and India and Nissan's flagship plant in the UK to ensure that Nissan's hallmark manufacturing excellence is built into the DNA of production lines around the world. He believes this strategy of global excellence and localised production is what makes Nissan so distinct in the marketplace.
Colin is excited by the technological advances in zero-emissions motoring and believes developments in electric, hybrid and fuel cell technologies will propel the automotive industry into a new sphere. Today's consumers purchase cars with their head and their heart so the future will be defined by more fuel-efficient vehicles that can match the performance of today's bigger engine cars. Colin also has one eye on developing markets in India and Africa as car production is predicted to ramp up over the next two years exponentially in countries like Nigeria.
In Colin's Personal Time
Colin is married and has two daughters whom are both at university. In his down time, and when travel schedules allow, Colin enjoys skiing with his family, taking regular cycle rides and keeping fit.
Colin's Current Ride
Colin currently drives a Nissan Qashqai in the UK and an Infiniti FX in Switzerland. His first ever car was a rather old and tired British car, many fond memories of personal mobility and regular breakdowns set the scene for his love of motoring and the desire to understand the industry behind the machines.