After almost 25 years with Heidelberg in a variety of roles around the globe, Gerard Heanue is stepping down from the managing directorship of Heidelberg UK, Sweden, Denmark and South Africa.
Gerard will have been managing director of this region for eight years. He leaves the role in March 2019 but will still be on call until the summer.
Gerard is not completely leaving the print sector. He will continue to be involved with trade body Picon, where he is currently chairman until June, and with the Stationers’ Company where he is treasurer of the Foundation, the charitable arm of the Livery, and serves on the Court. He has already been approached regarding possible non-executive roles and is currently reviewing his options.
‘I am 57 and always planned to retire early and I think this is the right time,’ he said. ‘My wife Elaine and I plan to have a mini gap year, starting with a month in New Zealand at the end of 2019 and then visiting our favourite countries in the Far East. I also plan to start to playing tennis and golf again.’
Gerard’s career with Heidelberg began in 1995 when he was appointed finance director of Heidelberg UK. Four years later he moved to Singapore to become chief financial officer of Heidelberg Asia Pacific.
This was a time of great success for Heidelberg. It had acquired the sales business from EAC in 1998 and Gerard was tasked with setting up the financial, legal and reporting structures for Asia Pacific in 11 countries with special focus on China. In the five years he was there (1999 to 2004) the 1000 staff team grew sales 30% to €1 billion. This was a highlight time for Gerard who cites his boss in Asia, Günter Zorn as one of the two most influential people in his career. The first was former Heidelberg UK managing director Wolfgang Gorth whom Gerard describes as ‘a great mentor, very straight and with a wonderful sense of humour’.
Between two more stints as finance director of Heidelberg UK (2004 to 2006 and 2008 to 2011) Gerard also worked as chief financial officer of Heidelberg Europe, Middle East and Africa, based in Germany where he learnt about the intricacies and challenges of doing sales in the ex-Soviet region.
‘I have really enjoyed my time with Heidelberg and, as managing director of Heidelberg UK, I have a great team around me, always adjusting to meet changing market needs. We have different but complementary skills on the board and this has led to the UK consistently being one of the top performing sales and service units for Heidelberg. We have exceptional strength in depth within the company and I am proud of the employee engagement and customer service we provide,’ he said.
‘Our customers have been instrumental in driving our performance. They have embraced technology to make the UK the most competitive and productive environment for print for Heidelberg. The way some customers are constantly trying to improve and add value for their customers Is really impressive. This pushes Heidelberg, too, as we strive to constantly improve our products and portfolio.’
His three wishes for the printing industry as he leaves are that the sector gains the recognition it deserves, that it promotes itself better to the public and that both printers and suppliers invest more in young people and training.
Heidelberg is currently looking for a replacement for Gerard.