JLife’s Kirsty Plowman chats to Dr Laura Cohen, chief executive of the British Ceramic Confederation, about her role and recently being awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
What is the British Ceramic Confederation (BCC)?
The BCC represents our members, ceramic manufacturers in the UK, in discussions with government and regulators at home and abroad.
How did you career in the ceramics industry begin?
My degree and PhD are in materials science from Cambridge University. I then worked in the chemical and pharmaceutical industry for 20 years, specialising in regulatory issues and working with trade associations. When the job came up at BCC it played to strengths in both of these areas.
What drives your passion towards your role as chief executive?
Every day is completely different. I work with people at all levels in our member companies, regulators, politicians and unions. I find it particularly rewarding when we are able to make a difference in legislation or other areas that make a real difference to our members. The most humbling situation was when one managing director phoned me and thanked me for saving his business during the recession.
How does it feel to be awarded with an honour from the Queen?
It was completely unexpected! I see this as a reflection of the work the team at BCC does and the support we have from our members and board. The award has helped raise the profile of UK ceramics manufacturers at a critical time during the economic recovery.
What’s next for your career and what challenges does the ceramics industry face?
The UK ceramic manufacturers must compete internationally. There remain plenty of challenges to address so that the UK is a really attractive place for investment, businesses and job creation in our industry.
Do your Jewish roots influence you in business?
I see principles such as Tikkun Olam and Tzedek as really important. Therefore, I value the work in particular that BCC does in sharing good practice in the industry in improving environmental and health and safety standards.
How do you get involved with Manchester’s Jewish community?
I’ve been a member of Menorah Synagogue for well over two decades! It is an amazing and inclusive community. I’ve enjoyed leading services occasionally and reading from the Torah. My husband and I lead walks for the community. Our son has been teaching at Cheder for the last four years and has attended many RSY events.