New Chair for National Skills Academy

The National Skills Academy for the Process Industries, an industry-led organisation dedicated to upskilling the UK chemical, pharmaceutical, polymer and downstream petroleum sectors, has appointed a new Chair.

Allan Laing, Chief Executive of Pentagon Chemicals (Holdings) Ltd, succeeds Chris Horton, Vice President Operations, Linpac Packaging Ltd in this role.

Allan graduated with an honours degree in Chemical Engineering from Strathclyde University in 1975. He joined ICI working in production management on the large petrochemical plants and enjoyed a 2 year assignment to the USA in 1983. He returned to the UK in 1985 to senior management roles in ICI’s chemical intermediates and polymers businesses. He joined specialties company MTM in 1989 rising to General Manager of the Agrochemicals Division in 1992. He left the chemical sector for 2 years in 1993/4 to work in the food industry.

Allan returned to chemicals in early 1995 as Managing Director of Pentagon Chemicals leading the company through strategic changes and a successful merger with Chemoxy International to form Haltermann UK within Ascot plc where he continued as Managing Director.

Following the acquisition of Ascot in July 2001 by Dow Chemical, he led the buy out of the Pentagon business in May 2002 followed by the acquisition of the UK Fine Chemicals business from Great Lakes in December 2003. Pentagon has gone on to become a respected player in the European specialties and fine chemicals sectors and won the CIA Skills Award in June 2010 for its continuous commitment to skills and competence. Allan has been chairman of the Academy’s North West Regional Skills Board for the last two years. He is also a member of the CEFIC European Fine Chemicals Group Board and is Chairman of the Agrochemical & Intermediates Manufacturers Europe.

Allan said,“I am delighted to take on the role as Chair of the Academy at a time when the organisation is proposing to extend its remit to include the emerging technologies of Biotechnology and Composites. The Academy’s strategy of delivering high quality training through an extensive network of accredited training providers is essential to the future success and competitiveness of the UK Process Industry.”
Joanna Woolf, Chief Executive of Cogent Sector Skills Council welcomed Allan to his new role and said,“the support from senior industrialists in the UK Process Industry is key to the success of the Academy and we are pleased that Allan has agreed to take on this role”.

The Academy’s Chief Executive, Phil Jones added, “Allan has been very supportive to the Academy since its inception in 2008, and in particular has helped establish a firm footing in the North West of England through his Chair of our Regional Skills Board. His enthusiasm and passion for skills development at all levels in our industry sector will, I’m sure have a major impact.”