Professor in Operations Management, Swansea University

Nick is a socio-technical systems researcher, meaning he has an interest in how people and technology work together to generate high performance organisations and highly reliable organisations. Nick is a renowned academic, a polymath, and his interests cover healthcare systems reliability and high performance manufacturing and service operations.

His career started at Cardiff and his work was some of the most influential in terms of the development and dissemination of lean systems (Lean Enterprise Research Centre). He was trained in Japan by the Toyota Motor Corporation and holds one of the Elite IIES Toyota Fellowships. Working with his mentor Professor Dan Jones, Nick expanded his research into food retailing and production (Tesco, Unilever) and manufacturing. During this time he accumulated over £4mn of EPSRC funding and an Innovative Manufacturing Research Centre (£3,5mn to study nanotechnology and lean business systems). Nick’s interest in lean socio-technical systems and his passion for robust engineering maintenance (TPM) has won him many awards and accolades (innovation Prizes, and Shingo Examiner status). He took time out of the university system to work on a turnaround of a cosmetics company and having achieved that goal he returned to academia. Luck led Nick to the NHS when an anaesthetist called one day and asked if Nick’s engineering and human factors knowledge could be applied to surgery and theatres for patient flow. World healthcare research now dominates 70% of his research and almost 100% of his PhD students.

Whilst at Warwick Medical School, under Professor Mathew Cooke, Nick developed more of his human factors interests whilst funded by The Health Foundation to research safer clinical systems. This opened up pathways of socio-technical systems to explore. In 2011-12, Nick went to The Royal Mint to be the Chief Engineer of the 2012 Olympic medals.

At Swansea, he is part of the management team with responsibility for enterprise and innovation.

Experience

  • –present
    Professor in Operations Management, Swansea University