James Langford

James Langford

GC and Company Secretary at Endress + Hauser

James Langford talks us through an average day at Endress + Hauser

Endress+Hauser is a global leader in measurement instrumentation, services and solutions for industrial process engineering. We provide process solutions for flow, level, pressure, analytics, temperature, recording and digital communications. Our customers come from a wide variety of industries including chemical, petrochemical, food & beverage, oil & gas, water & wastewater, power, energy and life sciences.

The company was formed in 1953 by a Swiss engineer - Georg H Endress, and a German banker - Ludwig Hauser. Endress+Hauser is still privately owned by the Endress family and now owns subsidiaries on six continents. 60 years after its founding, it employs a workforce of approximately 12,000 people in production, sales and services worldwide.

I am a fairly early riser and the alarm goes off around 5.45 am. I try to get exercise in before work as my enthusiasm wanes through the day. It might be weights or a short run but I try to get something done to wake me up.

I have a short drive to work if I leave before 7.00am and beat the traffic. Monday to Wednesday I will listen to Radio 4 to catch up on news – that becomes Sport Radio as the weekend approaches!

I am usually at my desk for 7.30am. Although I keep reading it is unproductive, the first thing I do is check my emails (after a large black coffee). We have customers and offices all over the world so it isn’t unusual to have a lot of overnight emails to deal with.

There is a management meeting once a week that starts at 8.00am. Everyone gives a brief update on the week before and the opportunity to highlight important issues for the week ahead. Our MD and FD also give an update on financial performance to date. As we operate in so many different sectors it is a good opportunity to hear what colleagues are involved with and about any interesting projects that are in the pipeline. It is also a chance for me to raise any important legal issues with a captive audience!

I try to get any significant work on contracts done as early as possible – I find that I can focus more and try to get the challenging jobs finished before the phone starts to ring.

My role is broad and touches all parts of the business. The majority of the workload is contracts, risk management, projects and insurance matters. Regulation and compliance are also very high priority at the moment, particularly because we operate in so many locations around the world. I also get involved with HR and property related issues together with Company Secretarial duties. Although it sounds a real cliché, every day is very different – which is the appeal of working in house for me.

I do a lot of work with our projects team and often get involved in big projects at tender stage. This gives me a real chance to get directly involved in commercial issues and strategy rather than simply focusing on contracts at the 11th hour.

Although we have a subsidised restaurant onsite, I try to keep that as a treat. I could quite easily sit down and eat three courses every day but my afternoon productivity would suffer badly. I tend to use lunchtime as a chance to get away from my desk and have some fresh air. I also regularly meet up with contacts and ex-colleagues.

Work permitting, I try to put some time aside in the afternoon for internal tasks. For example, we take the training offered to staff very seriously and recently opened a state of the art training centre. I have only been with the company just over 12 months and am trying hard to develop a working knowledge of our products. The business regularly runs training sessions which I try to attend when I can. Although the technical side of the training often passes me by it is invaluable to get an understanding of how our products are used in different sectors so I can tailor the work I do on contracts accordingly. The needs of the oil and gas industry are very different to that of food and beverages and I need to be aware of the needs of our customers.

I am also currently involved in preparing a training course on legal issues for our staff. The idea is to have a plan in place to cover the key legal issues we encounter as a business and why they are so important. I firmly believe that the more colleagues understand about what I look for and why the more effective I can be.

The business operates a flexible working policy which is really useful and a nice perk. The management genuinely encourages the use of the policy by awarding time in lieu or a half day holiday for hours worked over normal working hours. It’s useful for errands or a nice early finish on a Friday!

Evening events vary quite a bit; for example, this week we are hosting the National Sales meeting. It is where the strategy for the year ahead will be rolled out and our new CEO will attend. It will be a busy week of evening meals and staff events including an Irish themed evening. There will be a band, food and games. It is good fun but - more importantly – it will be a great opportunity to meet colleagues who are field based or from sister offices in Europe.

I also try to attend networking events when possible. It’s useful to keep in contact with ex-colleagues or meet up with the in-house teams from our customers.