NIRAS' new director in Aarhus, Tom Heron, uses his experience from the motorcycle track in his job. When you have the right skills, most things can be realized says the NIRAS director who gets energy from cooperation on innovative projects
There might appear to be a world of difference between road racing with nearly 300 kph and leading more than 250 highly trained specialists in a consulting engineering company. But that’s not how it is for Tom Heron, who November 1 returned to NIRAS. Now as Director for 270 employees at the office in Aarhus, and Group responsible for the Business Units energy, water, environment and informatics.
49-year-old Heron has among other things participated in the Danish Championships in road racing in his younger years. Today he restrict himself to road race training. During working hours he uses his experiences from the racing track:
“When you have practiced the technique, have the right equipment and know you can, then it’s about your ability to control your anxiety and remain calm in all circumstances. Then you can do it. It’s the same in business. It is about defining your objectives in close dialogue with customers and choosing the right team with the customers onboard. Then it is about tirelessly to follow the plan, keep calm and faith no matter that there will be bumps in the road," says Tom Heron.
Room for enthusiasts
Whether he is in leather suit and helmet or business suit, Tom Heron has a strong desire to do the best. He likes to be in the front. He is passionate about innovative solutions. It is a key reason why he returns to NIRAS, where he began his career after graduating as a geologist in the early 1990s.
"After all NIRAS is a company that’s grown big. However, we have retained the small company agility and DNA. If somebody gets a good idea which also gives meaning and value to customers, then we do it. It’s the passionate and enthusiastic souls that really moves and evolves our business,” he says.
“Direction-controlled wildness” is one of Tom Herons concepts in management. The passionate and enthusiastic types, according to Tom Heron, are types who like himself is nourished by creating new innovative solutions. He also stresses that there are other types of enthusiasts, who are just as important:
“The innovative projects are important because they are tomorrow's standard solutions. And the standard solutions with known approaches and techniques adapted to the specific situation, is what most of my talented colleagues work with. This is also where we make our earnings. I have the greatest respect for the many colleagues who with a sharp eye for detail enables us to finish well. Here the task is almost always listening carefully to the customer. We should not impose a standard solution on customers, but if we can solve our customers challenges with proven solutions, it’s important that we do it," says Tom Heron.
Important learnings from the municipality
The ability to understand the customer’s situation and needs are essential, stresses Tom Heron. After 19 years in NIRAS, he in 2012 accepted a position as technical director in Horsens Municipality. Four years there has sharpened his understanding of the many public customers that characterizes the Business Units, which he now is responsible for.
"It has been really exciting and educational for me. Not least because Horsens Municipality has high ambitions. I have in practice seen how administrative officials in a municipality must work together with the political system. Today I have a much better understanding of how both technicians and politicians in a local authority thinks. As advisor we must not only provide the best technical solutions. The solutions must often also be tailored to be part of a formal political decision-making process. If we become better at helping our customers to maneuver in the organizational and political life, it is at least as valuable as our ability to create technical innovation," says Tom Heron.