Friday Five: Phil Harding

Phil Harding - Managing Director

Holden Special Vechicles


1. What do you do in a nutshell? I am the Managing Director for Holden Special Vehicles, a completely independent company owned by the Walkinshaw family based in the UK, making about 3000 cars per year. The role encompasses strategic direction, people management, and financial responsibility for profit and investment decisions.

2. What inspired you to become an engineer? As a youngster, I was always wanted to find out how things worked and how they were put together, and I wanted to design cars. I joined Rolls Royce and Bentley Motor Cars as a student engineering apprentice, and gained an MSc in Automotive Engineering.

3. How do engineers change the world? Engineering affects every aspect of our life, without people realising it. Every minute of our day is experiencing something an engineer of one discipline or another has had a hand in. This is taken for granted for the most part. Only a few engineers in our history become famous, however the majority get tremendous satisfaction from seeing the fruits of their labour working because they had a hand in the making of something significant.

4. What do you wish you would have known as a graduate? I studied just as computers were being used, with the campus machine the size of the canteen, and less power than a modern phone. I wish I could have had more training in the world of computing instead of picking it up in my job later.

5. What is your favourite engineering innovation? The microwave cooker! It was technology beyond the public mindset at the time, and shows that market research is flawed sometimes because a market cannot say what it wants without a perception of the potential of future technologies.


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