Retrospective: Phoenix Mecano CEO, Dr. Philip Brown Looks Back Over 25 Years of Service

As a Nuclear Engineer for the British Royal Navy, our CEO, Dr. Philip Brown is no stranger to hard work and dedication. Raised in a rural village in England, he found inspiration from his family and known business leaders. Following his eleven years of military service, he set his career in motion when he transitioned into the engineering component and system sector with a controls organization headquartered in Austria. Philip Brown’s remarkable leadership mentors in this global group actively encouraged his professional experience and development, including receiving his MBA at The Henley Management College.  

In 1997, he was approached by multiple organizations, but Phoenix Mecano was the one that appealed to him the most. He was quickly short-listed to go to Germany and meet with the Head of the Enclosure Division. In June of 1997, almost immediately after that fateful interview, he received an offer to lead the business.

In 2005, he was given the opportunity to relocate to the U.S. with his wife and three young children to lead the North American operation (“PMUSA”), located in Frederick, MD. This operation was notably larger than that in the UK, including multi-location manufacturing plants. Placing his trust in the organization, Dr. Brown knew that he would be supported and empowered to lead the company’s North American development. This included implementing the required changes he quickly identified.

Dr. Phillip Brown posing by Phoenix Mecano sign

Some of the most notable key changes required in the first period centered on strategy, most notably leadership. Based on the geographic proximity of US operations and leading European stakeholder partners, he realized that there was a need to build teams that were fully functional, autonomous, and empowered while also ensuring that these teams were not isolated. 

 “I had the advantage of experience and relationship with key leaders in our global teams, which afforded me the time to focus on the selection of the change required in the Phoenix Mecano North America structure,” he explained. “In reflection, I did make poor personnel selections, which I corrected. At all times, the trust and support of the Phoenix Mecano Global leadership remained steadfast.” 

When Dr. Brown joined us, he quickly realized that the North American branch of the company was over-dependent, both in the tangible and intangible context, on the European entities and leadership. He recognized that to meet the reasonable expectations of all stakeholders, changes in personnel – notably leaders, were an absolute priority. Looking back at these early stages in his role, Philip recalls, “On commencing my role as President & CEO, I had counseled myself to be patient, to observe, and not rush to decisions. Thankfully, I did not ‘stay the course’ with this plan, as the need for these management changes was clear and immediate.” 

“Change is a natural dynamic of business. Recognition, ownership, engagement, trust, courage, and communication are fundamental. In my experience, people are anxious as to the perceived magnitude, comprehension, and accelerated rate of change.” He added, “Uncertainty is the only certainty. We endeavor to focus on a collaborative communication company-wide, local and global, to optimize the input, trust, and connectivity of all stakeholders.”

Phillip Brown with Phoenix Mecano team members

The CEO believes that there should always be opportunities and challenges in any organization, from product manufacturing or services to profit or non-profit organizations. “The ‘future of work’ will always involve a continued change in the dynamics of manpower and technology, both tangible, and intangible. The greater change is occurring in the intangible, such as process and data-driven intelligence (AI) insight.” 

He notes that the company’s work culture is founded on competence, empowerment, and trust. Colleagues are encouraged to develop their educational journey by partnering with several local career service programs and colleges. Something that Phoenix Mecano as a company finds highly important in an ever-changing workforce environment.

We operate in a wide range of global applications. “At the core, we identify our position at the interface of man and machine (technology),” explained Dr. Brown. “Accelerated developments in automation and connective technology present the platform for our organization to excel in next-gen applications.” 

We’ve committed significant investment and are rapidly commissioning next-gen intelligent production assets, providing the platform to enhance our capabilities to service North American stakeholder markets. 

By Dr. Brown’s own acknowledgment, our future can no longer be fixated on tangible timelines, such as 3-, 5-, or 10-year planning. He feels that businesses can no longer operate exclusively in a “comfort zone,” and that to be successful, businesses must identify and act on every opportunity to evolve and move forward.

“Phoenix Mecano’s ‘North Star’ mindset is founded on a vision for the future, with the agility to adapt to opportunities and challenges,” he said. “The future of Phoenix Mecano North America and Global is in good hands through experienced committed personnel with the foresight and courage to not ‘lie at anchor.’”

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