Skin in the game – better for us, better for you
Despite a continually changing world, Northrop is in it for the long haul, ensuring the business has full control over its own destiny, and its people are personally invested.
In fact, Northrop is owned by 40 of its senior people, who are spread across every office and actively involved with clients, developing the potential of our people and the business. And with no shareholder owning more than 10%, it's a level playing field.
We have a strong entrepreneurial spirit at Northrop that flows deep throughout the organisation. Our people like doing business, they take great pride in being owners, and we empower and support their entrepreneurial endeavours. We provide them with the opportunity to build something of value, to take risks to back themselves. Northrop simply couldn’t do this if we didn’t own the company.
The stability of self-ownership, according to CEO Jamie Shelton, allows Northrop to take a long-term perspective on clients, and to place emphasis on building relationships rather than chasing projects. He says the people in Northrop decide what is important, what is valuable, which markets to work in, who to work with, what opportunities to harness, and which risks to take.
“We’re not subservient to external investors or the pressures of being listed and we’re governed by a board elected by people who work in the business.”
- CEO Jamie Shelton
Importantly, Jamie emphasises that Northrop has no intention of ever changing this despite other well known medium-sized engineering firms selling out to large international interests.
So, what difference does being employee-owned make to Northrop's clients and its people? For a start, a Northrop owner is attached to every project and our clients know and value this. As empowered owners, our senior engineers bring a can-do attitude to the table which facilitates decision-making and accountability.
Custodians of the future
Northrop believes clients benefit from working with an engineer “with business acumen who has skin in the game”. And Jamie says Northrop's shareholders see themselves as not just investors and employees, but “custodians”.
“They have an opportunity to share in the financial rewards, however, they also have a responsibility to create value and to provide opportunity for the next generation,” he explains.
“Northrop offers careers rather than a job attached to a project. We commit to each person to not just help them develop to their full potential, but to provide career opportunities to support this.
“And, of course, on offer is the prize of ownership, real ownership not just a handful of shares in a large company.”
According to Jamie, having a majority of executive directors creates a direct connection between the Board and the day-to-day business.
“This direct connection enables the business to operate without a heavy reliance on process and systems to achieve effective governance,” he says.
Culture, vision and results
Under this direct connection model - which is near impossible without self-ownership - the emphasis is on culture, vision and results. Jamie says this empowers Northrop's people to find new ways to achieve valuable outcomes that lead the business towards its vision.
And there is minimal need to control how things are done, and time spent on reporting and internal compliance is kept to the bare minimum.
“It’s very fulfilling to see a business grow and to do this side-by-side with your fellow shareholders,” Jamie says.
“As a Northrop shareholder your reward comes while you’re contributing, not as a payout at the end of the day.”
However, Northrop transacts shares regularly, based on performance and individual contribution. We see shareholding as an opportunity to contribute at the highest level to something of lasting value, for people we care about, our employees, our future.
Northrop provides careers supported by our commitment to full-time employment. We’re agile, empowered and provide autonomy. Maybe you could work for Northrop one day and enjoy sharing in something big.