Tony Greenidge’s appointment as IAM RoadSmart’s CEO follows several years of change within the organisation, not least in 2020, which has brought some of the most significant challenges we have ever faced. In this blog Tony tells us a little more about his background, his career at IAM RoadSmart so far, and his vision for the future as we enter 2021.
Prior to joining IAM RoadSmart in July 2017, I spent a lot of my sales career in the automotive sector including some involvement in driver risk management. I reached a point in my career where I was looking for something a little more fulfilling than just focusing on hitting targets and earning money. When I was approached to consider the role of Business Development Director what really struck me was that, if I could be successful in my role, I would make a positive difference to the number of people being killed or seriously injured on our roads. Joining IAM RoadSmart was a natural extension for me in that I had been associated with the automotive sector for many years, which would allow me to utilise a lot of my previous contacts, and some of that has borne fruit.
My contract required me to pass the Advanced Driver Test and I was delighted to do so with a F1RST. If I’m honest I’d never really heard of the Advanced Driver Course and with 30-plus years driving experience I thought I was pretty good, so I wondered what I was going to learn. I have to say that my Observer Nick Elton, a serving senior police officer from the Melksham Group, was fantastic and he really changed my driving in a way that I didn’t really expect.
One of the most helpful things that I learned was based on a throw away comment made about getting from A to B without bringing the car to a complete standstill. Obviously, this would normally be difficult and reliant on traffic conditions, but I set about applying the principles of Observation, Anticipation & Planning (OAP) to see if I could achieve that goal. For a bit of fun and to help my concentration I set myself the task of getting from my house to the office, a one-way journey of 100 miles, without bringing the car to a complete standstill. In the 3-and-a-half years I have been with IAM RoadSmart I have managed to achieve this just once, but I got a real sense of achievement when I did. And for all the failed attempts this bit of fun really helped reinforce the principles of OAP.
Becoming IAM RoadSmart CEO
In 2020, when Mike Quinton announced his departure from the organisation, there was the inevitable speculation as to what would happen next. My decision to put myself forward for the role of CEO was based on the support I received from my Senior Management Team (SMT) colleagues. It made sense in the midst of lockdown to initially take up the role on an interim basis and I was delighted to then take up the role permanently in November 2020.
Strategically, on one hand we are a charity and on the other we are a commercial business. Underpinned by some of the early changes we have made, I am confident that we now have a better balance in these two elements than we may have had in the past. We will always remain focussed on achieving our charitable objectives and fundamental to this is encouraging consumer and business drivers and riders to continue to buy our range of on-road and, increasingly, our online courses.
Our active volunteers do a fantastic job on our behalf and I think this will become more important as we go into the post-COVID-19 era. There are ways I think we can improve how we generate and stimulate interest and awareness of IAM RoadSmart and what we do, and I see us working more closely with our volunteers to help them deliver this on a local level.
Tackling the additional challenges from COVID-19
The core activity of what we do on the road with an observer or a professional fleet trainer, or in a classroom on a drink-drive course or riding out on observed motorcycle runs was all shelved during the first lockdown, practically overnight.
One of the things that amazed and delighted me was that when, for a while, we were able to restart our activity, our groups responded magnificently. They worked with the teams here at ‘HQ’ to get things moving, and that showed how resilient our business is and how determined our groups, volunteers and everyone else are to go out and make a difference in their local communities.
The opportunity for us now is to see how quickly we can recover from our latest lockdown. The vaccine provides some encouragement that in the next year we can get back to normal. From what I have seen so far, there is a determined willingness from our volunteers to make that happen and that’s something we need to build on. We are in this together and we share an important common cause which has many strands including providing people with opportunities to enjoy their driving and riding experience, make them safer, improve their mental wellbeing and make a difference to road safety. We will best do all this if we are pulling together, supporting each other and approaching the next 12 months and beyond with positivity.
A message to members and staff
IAM RoadSmart has shown over the last nine months that we are very resilient. Financially we have had to make tough decisions, but we have worked to manage our costs and as a result we are currently in much better shape than anticipated. But in the short term there are still some challenges ahead.
In essence, we are a people business, whether at head office or across our group network, or via the cohort of examiners, ADIs and Trainers with whom we regularly work. As we adapt to these changing times it is important that across all of our activities our people remain engaged, coordinated and really in tune with what we are trying to do. If we can build further on where we are today, we will have a bright and rosy future.
I am very conscious that I lead an iconic organisation which now faces arguably the biggest challenge in its 65-year history. We are working towards a 3-year plan and if we can bring that to life, I think we have a fantastic future ahead of us. This may include some slightly different, but exciting, directions from where we are today. There will always be road safety and driver education, but we must embrace the new world. We have started on the journey of developing e-learning content that is going to be ground-breaking, for example, and we will be doing more. This new approach will, over time, touch every part of IAM RoadSmart, whether it be drink-driver, commercial training or indeed training our associates and observers. Technology will play a crucial part in what we do moving forward. That is quite an exciting place to be and I am looking forward to the challenge.