Day in the Life of Stewart Lidster

Ever wondered what the good people at Macalloy get up to all day? In our new ‘Day in the Life’ series, we shine a light on different people’s roles within the team and find out more about what it’s like to work here.

To kick things off, we caught up with Stewart Lidster, Area Sales Manager for Asia Pacific/Africas.

‘My role covers the whole of the Far East, Australia, New Zealand and Africa. So as you can imagine, it’s pretty diverse and no two days are ever the same.

Prior to Covid-19, I did a fair bit of travelling across my regions and was even sent off on a tour of Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia just 6 weeks after starting at Macalloy!

I love spending time in that region though, so it was certainly no hardship. Prior to starting at Macalloy, I lived in China for over 18 months, just outside Shanghai. That’s where I met my wonderful wife, before we both moved back to the UK.

One of the best things about travelling is the opportunity to see some of the iconic projects we’ve worked on in person. For example, the stunning Gardens by the Bay, and Jewel at Changi Airport, both in Singapore.

In the course of my work, I’ve also had the opportunity to visit Australia and South Korea. I was about to set off on a trip to to South Africa and Vietnam, when the first lockdown hit.

In more normal times, I tend to be away up to 3 times a year, for between a week and 2 weeks at a time. The travelling isn’t glamorous though – I mainly see the inside of hotels and meeting rooms – and spend a lot of time getting from A to B!

In most of the regions Macalloy is active in, we liaise directly with the customers. That’s certainly true of the UK, North and South America and most of Europe. However, in my regions we work through a network of agents and distributors, partly to overcome any issues caused by language, timezone and cultural differences.

Working in this way makes my role somewhat unique within Macalloy. For example, I don’t tend to get heavily involved in business development. I occasionally take part in customer negotiations or give prices for individual projects, but by and large, our agents and distributors are best placed to do that.

However, ensuring we have excellent relationships with those agents and distributors is a key part of my role. I do everything I can to make sure they feel supported by Head Office and that they have all the tools and information they need to do their job effectively. It also means I can work on things like pricing strategy, ensuring we’re getting the best possible prices from our suppliers.

Our agents and distributors play an invaluable role when I’m out travelling in their regions. They’ll put together an itinerary, make sure we’re meeting with all our key customers and prospects, help me overcome the inevitable language barrier and thanks to their local knowledge, they always help make the trip run more smoothly.

With things still very much up in the air travel-wise and many borders still closed, I don’t have any trips booked in the diary right now, but I’m hoping to get out and about by the end of this year.

Despite everything, the past 12 months have been very busy for Macalloy. Governments around the world are investing in their infrastructures to help boost their economies, so our products and services are in high demand and we have lots of interesting projects coming up across all regions.

China is a fairly new market for Macalloy. There tends to be a lot of competition for projects but my background and the time I spent in China is helping us make those inroads. We’re now starting to work with a new agent in China so I think our work there will increase significantly over the next couple of years.

The best part of my job is the opportunity to meet lots of different people from different countries and backgrounds. It’s also great to have the opportunity to work on such a variety of projects, from £100 to several million, including some really iconic builds.

The hardest part is probably managing the split between business development and communications, and internal project management. However, my little team has recently expanded from one to two, as we’ve recruited Stefania to help out on projects within my regions. She’s already proving to be a great asset to the team.

In my spare time, you’ll usually find me spending time with my wife and young son. We do a lot of cooking at home, especially on our teppanyaki grill, and I’ve been expanding my repertoire with lots of Asian-fusion flavours. It’s so nice to be able socialise again, and I’m looking forward to doing more of that over the coming months.’