Very few leaders working within the manufacturing and industrial sectors are embracing technology, especially those working in the later stages of their careers, according to a new research report.

The findings from the World Class Leader Report, produced by executive search and recruitment specialist TS Grale, show that successful implementation of the latest technological advancements is a huge challenge for the majority of older businesses leaders.

From automation, to Artificial Intelligence (AI), right through to embracing digital marketing and social media opportunities, the report reveals that many business leaders lack the skills to implement future technology solutions.

Jason Saunders, co-founder and director at TS Grale, said: “It seems that smaller businesses and those with younger CEOs and dedicated technology teams, are savvier and adopt a more connected approach to absorbing and implementing new technologies.

“The report also makes it clear that some successful business leaders shy away from things like AI, as they don’t understand how it could work within their operation, or they can be intimidated by the pace of change. The research showed that CEOs who are in the later stages of their working careers, typically struggle more to fully understand how new technological advancements can benefit their business.

“If veterans within the manufacturing and industrial industries resist the pace of change and fail to embrace technology, they risk losing out to their competitors. As a result, they need to recruit specialists with in-depth knowledge. Of course not every technological advancement is going to be relevant – but by bringing in tech-savvy people from other industries and learning from them, business leaders can embrace the future.”

The UK Tech Innovation Index, which measures both current activity and potential for innovation in seven sectors for 36 UK cities, reveals that businesses based in London are by far the best at adopting technological advancements, followed by those in Aberdeen, Cambridge, Bristol and Birmingham. Businesses based in Glasgow, Norwich, Coventry and Manchester are also in the top 10.

Jason added: “Businesses in the capital fare significantly better when it comes to technology, so those in the regions must strive to adopt relevant new technology in order to keep pace. The younger generation are critical to the manufacturing and industrial sectors and leaders that value their technical skills and learn about the latest technology advancements through them, will ultimately continue to succeed.” 

Researchers for the World Class Leader Report interviewed more than 20 board level executives and directors across private, listed and private equity backed businesses, with turnovers ranging from less than £20m to more than £1bn.

TS Grale provides executive search and recruitment services across the industrial, manufacturing, and engineered products sectors, as well as working in construction, the built environment and consumer sectors including food and drink, packaging and non-food FMCG. From its offices in Leeds city centre, TS Grale has attracted a global client base spanning the UK, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, USA and Canada.

The firm has recently secured retained contracts with several North American companies, which will see it identify and assess talent for senior sales and infrastructure roles. In addition, TS Grale has recently won projects with tier-one automotive and aerospace suppliers to identify Managing Directors for UK and European subsidiary businesses.

The ‘World Class Leader Report’ can be downloaded from TS Grale’s website at