Valuable Business Advice From Debbie Heald

Debbie Heald is the co-owner and MD of Heald Ltd, which manufactures hostile vehicle mitigation systems which aim to prevent targeted attacks on high profile sites worldwide. Future growth potential for Heald is huge, especially as they have won projects with The World Trade Centre and the United Nations building in New York.

As she’s been shortlisted for our STEM Business of The Year Award (Yorkshire, The North East and Scotland) we caught up with her and asked her a few questions.

Tell us a bit about your career journey to date

I am the co-owner and managing director of Heald Ltd; a manufacturing company based in Hornsea, specialising in hostile vehicle mitigation systems.

I began my career working for the local authority in Beverley, East Yorkshire after I left school. I also undertook an additional six years of studying at college and university where my main focus was business studies.

In 1994 the opportunity arose to take voluntary redundancy from the council. I decided to use my redundancy money to purchase a 50% share in my partner’s company, Heald Ltd.

What are the top 3 challenges you’ve faced as a leader and how have you overcome them?

Time has been a huge challenge for me. Finding the hours to focus on running a business and bringing up a young family has been a difficult task, but one that I have been more than willing to undertake.

I also have a tendency to want to get things done instantaneously, when planning for the future of the business. Often this is not possible and I have needed to learn the art of patience and how best to utilise the talented team I have around me to get things done in a timely and efficient manner.

Lastly, recruitment has been a challenge. Finding the right staff, at the right time is difficult for any business but we are really keen at Heald to find the right people and ensure the team can work in harmony.

How do you bounce back from rejection and the challenges

In business, it is important not to take things personally. I am lucky enough o have a great team around me that help to keep things into perspective and make coming to work a pleasure.

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your career to date?

To listen and assess before making any decisions and think about the implications of your actions.

What advice can you offer to women who want a career in your industry?

To be positive, believe in yourself and face any challenges head on. Also, to recognise the support that is out there and not to be afraid to share opinions and knowledge.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?

I have been known to enjoy extreme sports and I am the proud owner of a pilot’s license. However, with other commitments flying has become more and more difficult to maintain. These days I enjoy other activities with my family such as biking and jet skiing.

A short piece about your business, product and services

Heald Ltd designs, manufactures and installs a range of innovative counter-terror products such as roadblockers, barriers and bollards that aim to protect vulnerable sites around the world.

Our products, which play a leading role in the defence of properties against terrorists and criminal organisations, are installed in airports, shopping centres, military sites, government buildings and many more.

Previously an agricultural engineering business employing only two people, the company now operates internationally. I manage most aspects of the business with the support of my partner Rod Heald, who takes care of product design and development.


Would you like your business and hard work to be recognised? Then apply or nominate someone for one of our prestigious National Women in Business awards, so we can celebrate your success and inspire other women to do the same. There’s nothing we love more than promoting incredible women in business! Apply/Nominate HERE.