New job for El-Mokadem

IAN El-Mokadem, the former head of catering services firm Compass in the UK, starts as new chief executive of materials testing firm Exova today.

El-Mokadem’s four-year turnaround of Compass, as well as stints at Centrica companies British Gas and OneTel, have earned him a reputation for successfully growing and overhauling service sector UK firms.

At Exova, which tests materials and products for companies such as Rolls-Royce and GE, he sees himself as a catalyst for growth, he told City A.M.

“This move makes perfect sense as it’s another service business, this time very clearly growth. The challenge is to continue its growth story,” he said. “I think the emphasis is going to be on organic growth.”

El-Mokadem was credited with restoring trust in Compass, which he joined in 2005 after three profit warnings, a scandal over its contract to supply UN peacekeepers, and the ousting of chief executive Mike Bailey. At Centrica he was British Gas’ head of marketing before being tasked with growing its telecoms operator OneTel from startup in 2000. He made it the UK’s largest fixed-line provider, and sold it to Carphone Warehouse in 2005.

Exova was bought out from materials testing firm Bodycote by Clayton Dubilier & Rice in 2008. Life in a private firm will be different from a plc but the same standards apply, he said. “This job is about running the business in the right interests of customers and shareholders. Whether it’s Compass, Centrica or Exova, the mindset the leadership team needs to have is very similar.”