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INTERVIEW: Kaz Kicinski - Interim site manager, Gardner Aerospace

Tell us about your career to date

I started my manufacturing career in the UK automotive industry, followed by nearly 20 years in electronic product manufacturing. In 2000 I joined Gardner Aerospace to establish an automotive plant in Tczew, Poland. I managed the facility as site director for three years, initially as an automotive business until the company introduced aerospace manufacturing, at which point this became my primary focus. In 2011 I returned to Gardner to oversee the construction of its new aerospace manufacturing facility in Mielec and managed the business as site director until my retirement in August 2013. However, in 2015 Gardner asked me to return to Mielec as interim site director – a request which I accepted without hesitation!

What sparks your interest in aviation?

I first became interested in flying in the 90s when building a model radio-controlled Lancaster bomber which actually flew! However, my interest really developed when Gardner started aerospace production at the Tczew factory – I saw it as an opportunity to learn new manufacturing controls and processes as well as gaining additional qualifications.

What are your responsibilities?

I’m responsible for the smooth running of the Mielec factory. The main focus is to satisfy our customers’ production requirements on time and maintain our costs to planned levels so Mielec always meets its objective of being a low-cost manufacturing facility. Another very important part of my job is centred around supporting my colleagues, motivating them and providing guidance on demanding tasks.

Tell us about your typical day

My day starts with a quick walk around the factory followed by the early morning management meeting on the shopfloor in front of our safety, quality, cost, delivery and people (SQCDP) board, where KPIs and daily issues are reviewed. Inevitably every day includes internal meetings with the full management team and department teams. Being an overseas part of the Gardner Group, there are also daily conference calls on any number of subjects, for example the introduction of new software systems or work transfer programs. As in any manufacturing organisation, operational issues arise which can take up a good portion of my day. I have learnt that these issues are often resolved fastest by speaking to colleagues in other customer or supplier sites within the Group to find out how they have overcome similar problems.

What aspects of your job do you enjoy the most?

Coming from a manufacturing background, I still get a big buzz from hitting monthly output targets and seeing the delight our production teams express when seemingly impossible demands are achieved. I also enjoy my job on a daily basis because I work with a brilliant team, some of whom I recruited many years ago and who have now developed into positions of responsibility in both Tczew and Mielec.

What aspects of your job do you enjoy the least?

I’m originally from the UK so being based in Poland can be difficult because I’m away from my family and don’t get to see my grandchildren as often as I wish.

Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?

Enjoying retirement on a cruise ship with my wife somewhere in the Southern Hemisphere.

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