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Neil goes the extra mile

Author: ICAEW

Published: 17 May 2022

In the latest of our occasional series profiling ICAEW Manchester members who are making a difference, we meet Neil Smith MBE and talk supporting charities and nurturing the ambitions of the wider community.
Neil Smith

Whether it’s running to raise much needed funds for charities or working on initiatives to support the local community, there’s no doubt that Neil Smith goes the extra mile to make a difference.

Neil is the MD of Kinetic plc, a firm specialising in providing recruitment and HR services to manufacturing, engineering and technical markets world-wide and he’s dedicated to making a difference. 

Racing ahead

When Neil was in his thirties, he took up running to help benefit his mental and physical health – little did he know, but it was to be the start of an incredible fundraising journey. 

In the mid-nineties, Neil spotted an ad for a Parkinson’s charity in The Times, this, coupled with the fact that his uncle had the disease, inspired him to sign up to run the first of eighteen London Marathons. For a decade Neil ran in support of Parkinson’s charities, then for the following eight years he raced for the British Lung Foundation – during those eighteen years, Neil raised over £139,000. In more recent years, Neil has switched to 10k races, but continues to run for charity, raising thousands for Macmillion Cancer Support.

“Running is a great way to keep fit and I find it helps focus my mind – I often find solutions to problems I’ve been wrestling with during a run” says Neil.

Supporting the community

Despite raising many thousands for charity, it wasn’t Neil’s impressive fundraising that led to him being awarded an MBE in 2012, but something much closer to home. 

“One of our company mantras is ‘support the area your staff are in’” says Neil, whose role as MD had already led him to get involved in external networking, this in turn led to joining several boards and becoming involved with the local Chamber of Commerce. 

Neil soon saw that his professional experience could help make a difference and he became involved in offering interview training to people in the local community. The project helped make a real difference to numerous people’s careers and Neil’s contribution was formally recognised in the New Year’s Honours list.

As Neil explains, initiatives of this sort are a key part of the Kinetic approach; “working with schools, local groups and mentoring the next generation has always been part of the company culture and I’m really proud of that.”

Making a difference

Neil trained with Pannell Kerr Forster (now PFK International) straight from polytechnic in 1981 – and his links with ICAEW Manchester go back as far as his student days, when our President Jon Scopes was one of his lecturers. “I owe Jon a lot” says Neil, “he was incredibly supportive and encouraging when I first started out.”

Neil’s career has seen him work in pretty much every sector imaginable, from sweet manufacturers and textiles to coal merchants and abattoirs. “It’s been phenomenally varied and as a result I’ve been involved in some really interesting working cultures” says Neil, who joined Kinetic in 1994 and became their MD in 2001. In 2008 Neil bought-out Kinetic’s founder, starting in motion a huge change in direction for the company, culminating in 2018 with the move to employee ownership and Neil’s shares being held in trust for the employees.

“It was about making a difference for the next generation” says Neil. Looking at everything he’s been involved with, it’s safe to say that making a difference is at the heart of everything Neil does.