The Materials Processing Institute has appointed Jonathon Stormon from Hexagon Consultants as its interim CEO following Chris McDonald’s decision to stand down from the role he has held for almost a decade.

The move, which follows Chris’ selection as the Labour Party’s parliamentary candidate for Stockton North, allows the Institute’s chair and council to prepare the Teesside-based organisation for new leadership as it begins the process to recruit a permanent successor.

An acknowledged leader in interim management services and in delivering transformational business projects, Jonathon has 25 years’ experience of working across multiple sectors, including manufacturing, engineering, and construction, and was Head of Transformation for Liberty Steel Europe between 2019 and 2021.

Despite stepping back from day to day operations, Chris McDonald will continue to act as a strategic advisor, working with the Institute’s Council on the implementation of strategic partnerships, managing relations with key stakeholders, and ensuring a smooth handover of responsibilities.

Chris, who previously worked at Corus as a Manufacturing Technical Manager, and at Tata Steel, where he rose to become Strategy and Collaborations Manager, saved the Teesside-based Institute from closure in 2014. He stepped in and relaunched it as a not-for-profit organisation developing new technologies for the steel and metals sector.

Since then, it has grown into a leading national and international innovation centre for the global steel sector, together with the wider foundation industries, and is at the forefront of research into advanced materials, industrial decarbonisation, digital technologies, and developing the circular economy.

Currently the Institute is leading a major £6.5m project to scale up development of the world’s first zero emission cement, a process that also supports ‘green’ steelmaking. It is also involved in a wide range of other cutting-edge projects, including the removal of valuable zinc from industrial byproducts, and extracting carbon-free hydrogen from steelmaking sludge.

Jon Bolton, Chair of the Materials Processing Institute, said: “Chris has been a driving force in transforming the Institute into a centre for research and innovation that has attracted international acclaim. His contribution is immeasurable, and I’m delighted that in his new role, we will continue to benefit from his expertise and sector knowledge.

“I’m pleased to welcome Jonathon as interim CEO, Jonathon is an experienced leader who brings new energy to the Institute. I look forward to working with him closely to ensure continuity of leadership as we start the process to recruit a permanent successor.”

Along with the scholarship scheme, which offers support and encouragement to local young people seeking a career in materials, engineering or science-related sectors, Chris is most proud of the fact that that the Institute kept the flame of steelmaking alive on Teesside following the 2015 closure of Redcar steelworks with its pilot scale electric arc furnace.

He said: “It has been an immense privilege to have had the opportunity, first to rescue, and then to lead, the Materials Processing Institute over the last decade.

“We have weathered the storms of the financial crisis, the insolvency of first SSI, then British Steel, COVID and more recently the war in Ukraine. “Through all this time we focussed on developing and delivering high quality technology to tackle climate change and improve productivity in the metals sector, while staying true to our principles of integrity and supporting our local community.

“I have huge confidence in the future of the Institute, and I look forward to continuing to work in an advisory capacity and supporting the transition to a new leadership during the coming year.”

Jonathon Stormon added: “I am excited about the opportunity to lead the Institute and have been impressed with the expertise and facilities the Institute has to offer its industrial partners. I look forward to working with all stakeholders to further develop the Institute’s capability to deliver projects critical to the success of the UK’s foundation industries.”