Meet the Manager: Daniel Alders

28 August 2023

Introducing Daniel Alders, Group Programme Manager at Summit Systems, whose journey from a career in the Royal Air Force to his current role is a testament to his dedication and leadership. With over a decade of experience in roles ranging from Aircraft Maintenance Technician to Programme Manager, Daniel has honed his skills and risen through the ranks. In this "Meet the Managers" feature, we delve into his strategies for departmental improvement, his innovative approaches to enhancing efficiency, and his unwavering commitment to fostering a positive work culture. Daniel's vision for the future of his department and Summit Systems as a whole reflects his dedication to innovation, collaboration, and continued success. Plus, discover a fun fact about Daniel's recent academic achievement and an adventurous journey that mirrors his approach to life's challenges.

Position:  Group Programme Manager

Start Date:  September 2021

Could you share your previous experience leading up to your current role as Group Programme Manager at Summit Systems?

In 2008, I embarked on my career with the Royal Air Force, starting as an Aircraft Maintenance Technician specialising in heavy maintenance with a mechanical and propulsion focus. Over the course of nearly 14 years, I undertook a series of training courses and experienced a variety of roles that honed my skills and contributed to my professional growth. This dedication resulted in multiple promotions within the organisation. 

Throughout my tenure, I had the privilege of assuming diverse roles, including Aircraft Engineer, Engineering Manager, Project Manager, and Lead Engineer. These opportunities allowed me to contribute to critical engineering tasks and thrive in challenging environments. One of the notable achievements during this time was earning the Licensed EASA Part-66 Engineer qualification. Following a competitive selection process, I was among the chosen few who underwent specialised training to attain this esteemed qualification. 

My journey with the Royal Air Force provided a robust foundation for my current role at Summit Systems. The experiences and skills gained have positioned me well to contribute effectively within our industry. I am enthusiastic about the prospect of merging my past experiences with the goals and vision of Summit Systems, and I look forward to discovering how my background can support the organization's aspirations. 

How have you developed and improved your department since taking on the role of manager?

Upon joining Summit Systems, I undertook multiple roles that encompassed a strategic approach to improvement. In each instance, my initial focus was on fostering relationships and comprehensively evaluating team dynamics and processes. This allowed me to discern strengths and weaknesses, enabling targeted interventions that swiftly led to efficiency gains. A fundamental aspect of my approach has been to establish a robust foundation of best practices within the department. This emphasis on foundational strength has served as a springboard for sustainable growth and innovation. 

In my present capacity, I have prioritized enhancing the quality of work life for the team. By streamlining processes and implementing resilient methodologies, I have worked towards optimizing our professional methods. This concerted effort has resulted in the delivery of seamless and comprehensible projects to both internal stakeholders and valued customers. 

Drawing from my experience in the highly regulated aviation realm and my direct interaction with on-site engineers, I have been able to infuse a unique perspective into the project, engineering and service departments. This fusion of insights has contributed to a dynamic environment that values precision, safety, and efficacy. 

In summary, my journey as a manager at Summit Systems has been marked by proactive relationship-building, targeted process refinement, and a resolute commitment to foundational strength. These efforts have collectively propelled the department towards greater efficiency, quality, and innovation. 

What specific strategies or initiatives have you implemented to enhance the performance and efficiency of your department?

The implementation of an "Amber Targeting" approach within our project management framework. We utilise a red-amber-green system to gauge project progress. However, we've taken a proactive stance by introducing dedicated "Amber Dive" sessions to address projects that fall within the amber range. 

These sessions serve as a focused platform for in-depth analysis and problem-solving, specifically targeting projects in the amber zone. By identifying and addressing potential issues at this stage, we've successfully curtailed the number of projects that escalate to the red zone, thus mitigating potential complications. 

This strategic approach has had a twofold effect on our department's performance and efficiency. Firstly, it has enabled us to nip potential issues in the bud and secondly, it’s shifted our focus towards a more proactive response, reducing the need for reactive measures and ensuring a smoother project execution process. 

Can you highlight any major challenges you have faced in your role as manager and how you overcame them?

I have consistently embraced a holistic approach to address challenges. My approach entails several key principles: 

  • Calm and Decisive Action
  • Utilisation of Team and Facts
  • Strategic Planning
  • Continuous Encouragement
  • Leading by Example
  • Flexibility and Adaptability
  • Collaborative Problem-Solving

In essence, my approach to major challenges revolves around a combination of focused planning, collaborative teamwork, and adaptable leadership. By adhering to these principles, I have been able to navigate complex situations and drive successful outcomes.  

How do you foster a positive and collaborative work culture within your department?

Leading by example, inclusive decision making, empowerment and autonomy, open communication and I will always try to go the extra mile when someone needs assistance from me or my team, supporting the wider team and company is just as important as making sure my department succeeds.

What do you envision for the future of your department and how do you plan to achieve those goals?

My vision is to create an environment where our projects team operates at peak efficiency, armed with the tools, knowledge, and collaborative spirit necessary to tackle any challenge. By implementing innovative systems, fostering cross-functional collaboration, and embracing emerging technologies, we can achieve this vision and propel our department toward continued success.

How do you see the future of Summit Systems as a whole, and what role does your department play in its overall success and growth?

In my brief tenure at Summit Systems, I have witnessed remarkable growth and continuous advancement. As we move forward, I envision Summit Systems solidifying its current achievements and fortifying its position to embrace upcoming endeavours, wherever they may lead. Undoubtedly, the projects team will play a pivotal role in shaping the future of Summit's ventures and contributing significantly to its ongoing success. 

What personal experience or adventure in your life has influenced your approach to overcoming challenges and seizing new opportunities, and how does it reflect in your role at Summit Systems?

I've recently completed a Bachelor of Engineering First Class with Honours in Aircraft Engineering.  

Summit has embarked on countless remarkable adventures over the years, consistently forging ahead with determination and vigour. A testament to its resilience and spirit, Summit's journey has been marked by triumphant accomplishments and lessons learned along the way.   

Recently, I embarked on an adventure of my own, a direct ascent up Great Gable in the Lake District. This endeavour proved to be a representation of the complexities found in life's journey. The day commenced with radiant sunshine, promising breathtaking vistas. Several miles in, the weather took a turn, shrouding the landscape in mist and obscuring the panoramic views. About three-quarters into the ascent, my trusty boots – weathered by time and countless trails – began to fall apart, succumbing to wear and tear on this which proved to be their final voyage.  

Upon my arrival at the summit, a barrage of unfavourable weather conditions greeted me. The heavens released a torrential downpour, with bursts of gusty wind, the fog enveloped the landscape, obscuring my vision to a few feet ahead. This moment presented an opportune time for a much-needed break. During this pause even my waterproof gear conceded defeat, leaving me sodden and chilled as the rainwater began to flood my now split boots. Despite the adversities, the descent beckoned, promising its own set of challenges. I checked the map & compass and once I could see at least several meters ahead I began my trek down slowly.  Eventually the clouds lifted, revealing the awe-inspiring panorama, and I navigated my way downward.  

Reflecting on this mini adventure, I am struck by its parallels to the expedition of seizing new opportunities. The path ahead unfolds with crests of achievement and troughs of uncertainty. Just as I exchanged reliable footwear for new horizons, organisations invest in pioneering technologies, bidding farewell to familiar assets. The journey, at times, grows arduous, akin to traversing rugged terrains amidst relentless elements. In these instances, a respite becomes a lifeline – a momentary pause to recalibrate, a glance at the map of purpose, and a reinforcement of the will to conquer. In these junctures, we regroup, shed dampened layers, and assess other paths if required, ultimately emerging victorious, enriched by the wisdom acquired along the way.  

Just as the climb up Great Gable mirrors life's journey, it embodies traits of strength, determination, and growth. I am honoured to be an integral part of these shared expeditions at Summit Systems, where trials and triumphs intertwine, propelling us ever forward on the adventure to success.