Dr Jim McColl OBE, Honorary Graduate of the University of Stirling, spoke about his entrepreneurial approach to business when he delivered the final Innovation and Excellence lecture on Leadership for Sustainable Growth in celebration of the University's 50th anniversary.
The lecture focused on the capabilities required to turn around a struggling business, how to drive technical and managerial innovation and enable sustainable growth across an entire portfolio of companies.
“We’re entrepreneurial in our approach and the definition of an entrepreneur is they know what they want, what the cost is and then they work out how to get there,” he said.
“We build businesses by going through a simple approach of creating a vision, identifying the growth opportunities and moving towards those growth opportunities”.
“Our approach has worked every time. We see a real lift in the efficiency and productivity by communicating a really clear vision and constantly communicating the updates to it.”
Dr McColl left school at the age of 16 and his first job was as an apprentice in one of Glasgow’s leading engineering companies, Weir Pumps.
After studying for a BSc degree in Technology and Business Studies and Masters degrees in Business Administration and International Accounting and Finance, he was head-hunted by Coopers & Lybrand as a senior consultant in corporate care, helping to turn around companies experiencing financial difficulties.
After setting up on his own, in 1992 he bought into the small engineering company Clyde Blowers which went from having a 3% share of the market and seven competitors, to buying out six of the companies and having a 60% share of the market.
In 2007, Clyde Blowers bought Weir Pumps from the Weir Group plc, the same company Dr McColl started his career at.
He shared many insights with the audience about business and the potential for industrial growth and said personal enthusiasm and commitment are key ingredients to becoming successful in business, whether as a manager or an owner-entrepreneur.