Jim Fairbairn arrived at Megger as CEO in late 2017, joining an eponymous market leader that needed a refreshed and more compelling longer-term vision. Although the company was number one in many of its products and applications and had a dedicated and passionate workforce, a new strategic direction would allow the business to further its leading position and stay relevant in the medium and long term. In the last few years the company has completely refreshed its strategy and completed multiple acquisitions that has enabled it to embrace on-line automated monitoring and diagnostics in electrical power test and measurement. The company is obviously at the beginning of an exciting and transformational journey that will bring significant growth opportunities in every sense of the word.
Megger had a modest start. Its roots go back to London in 1889 when Sidney Evershed developed the world’s first direct-reading ohmmeter, and later in 1903, Evershed’s company developed the first Portable Insulation Test Set, which was branded a ‘Megger’.
After a number of mergers over several decades, Thorn Instruments bought the company in 1971 and shortly thereafter the company was sold to the TBG Investment Group based in Europe. Throughout its history, Megger has been a pioneer in developing and expanding products and applications from substations to complex cable installations to residential electrical technicians who rely on equipment that can be used safely with accurate and repeatable measurements and fault finding capability.
According to Jim Fairbairn, one of the most important things a CEO has to do is to build a company culture that all employees can be proud of. Megger operates from a foundation of integrity and respect which includes being committed to leading the industry in its thinking. “We continually embed feedback from our customers and industry bodies into our products. We are explicit about innovation ambition in our organization and work through the process and stage gate reviews to continually achieve successful outcomes,” adds Jim. “Our approach also includes driving deep unconventional insights from our customers, for example we’ve undertaken multiple ethnographic observations in many of our core applications which ultimately lead to product differentiation and clear competitive advantage. We have significant innovation headroom in our business which is positive aspect of attracting bright and ambitious talent.”
Jim believes that humility, coupled with restlessness, is part of a personal philosophy that will continually better everyone and everything around him. “Developing a culture of openness, transparency and positivity, and recognizing that everyone in the company can play a part in continually making the company better will always underpin long term effectiveness.” Jim is also a talent advocate who looks to challenge, provoke, support, and improve individual capability at all organizational levels. “On an individual basis, it’s about recognizing the various journeys people are on in and out of work and helping them along where possible. In my career I’ve been helped by some great mentors and people who saw something in me that perhaps I did not. I now proactively look to do the same.” At 26, Jim was one of the UK’s youngest ever Chartered Engineers and is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering. Just recently, he received an honorary doctorate from City University, London after working nearly a decade working voluntary with the University on various academic and commercialization projects.
Jim is also a member of the Royal Society of Edinburgh’s post-COVID commission which is looking at ways to help Scotland build a fairer and more resilient society. He says “This year with COVID, leaders have to be more resourceful and tactical, but be creative enough to want their company to come out of the pandemic stronger. Also sometimes we lose sight of how connected we are, and one of the key roles I’ve been playing this year is to ensure our internal communication is timely, in context, and accurate.” The CEO’s role has always been future-facing and about developing a company’s culture and performance, whilst ensuring the right strategy and governance is in place. He explains, “I encourage our business leaders not to think sequentially but to stretch the boundaries of ‘and’ as much as possible in terms of our growth ambitions and company culture. I believe that what will set us apart and make us more competitive.” He is a qualified executive coach and mentor and encourages a coaching culture and individuals to embrace the insights of the more experienced staff.
From power generation to the power outlets in the consumer’s home, Megger products and services solve challenging measurement applications across the Energy Supply Industry. Megger drives international standards through its membership of international safety and standards bodies. “We have helped the industry on safety and measurement criteria for decades really living that trusted advisor status,” says Jim.
Megger’s future is indeed bright and ambitious. “With the support of our long term owner and dedicated staff, we’re committed to acquiring technology assets to help customers drive their asset performance. That’s a pretty exciting place to be” says Jim proudly.