Anyone who’s ever moved house, shop or office will know just how stressful the process can be, so imagine moving the equipment, machinery, resources and people associated with a busy assay office while still ensuring customers are served and services are completed — it’s enough to bring you out in a cold sweat.
Fortunately, Stella Layton managed Assay Office Birmingham’s move from Newhall Street (where it had been for 130 years) to a brand new purpose-built facility with aplomb. She says: “We have been operational since 1773, where our first premises were a couple of rooms above a pub in Birmingham. To now move into a new iconic building, purpose built, with all of the efficiencies and opportunities that brings, is a key strategy for us.”
Stella admits the Assay Office is in the “business of continuous improvement”, focusing on serving customers and supporting its employees in equal measure. In the last 12 months, the organisation has reinvigorated its attitude towards doing business, coining the motto “we aim to be the best” and adding Passionate, Leaders, Accountable, Integrity and Teamwork to its list of buzzwords.
“The relocation will enable us to be lean, work smarter and more efficiently,” Stella states. “Our new culture will support this and we aim to empower the team to continue to drive the business forward.”
A work-life balance has always been tricky to master for Stella, but she’s now starting to fi nd some equilibrium thanks to her husband Michael and her step-daughter Megan. She adds: “They keep me grounded and make me laugh at myself, as well as at some of the issues that I face. Michael has worked in the industry for 30 years and is the production manager at Cooksongold, so that helps too.”
As the first female assay master in the UK, Stella has used all her skills acquired from a career battling “aggressive boards and shareholders” to steer the Assay Office in the direction of success. She says: “I have been a real culture shock for the Assay Office team, I am not sure we even spoke the same language to start with. 18 months on, we have both come a long way. The team has listened and responded, as have I, and the amount of change we have made together is staggering in a short space of time. Much more to do, but the way is clearer now and the team understands this is a marathon not a sprint, as we move into the 21st century.”