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Meet the chair

We talk to the Aidan O'Carroll, IoD Scotland chair, about start-ups, innovation and economic growth

Why are you proud to represent the IoD?

Having come back to the Scottish business community I have been impressed by how the IoD in Scotland has engaged across the private, public and third sectors. It is a fantastic opportunity for me to be part of a team that can help bring insights to the whole community around IoD’s key purpose of representing our members views across a spectrum of business issues  and to support our members with class leading education, advice and thought leadership that will enhance standards at all levels in our community.

What is the IoD’s role to business leaders in Scotland?

If I look around the business community IoD is a leader in bringing the best insights on good governance engaging proactively with government around policy that affects the business community, connecting our different sectors in Scotland so that we can learn best practices, and with our new headquarters in Edinburgh, really promote the kind of business networking that helps us grow opportunities across the whole of Scotland. We have a great regional network that engages tirelessly with the local business communities and I see that as a huge enabler for IoD to be one of the most relevant connected business enablers around.

Who do you represent?

We have membership from all communities in Scotland and that is perhaps one of our unique strengths. Bringing views from private, public and third sectors, engaging with our youngest members and future business leaders, helps IoD Scotland to represent the very widest opportunities for entrepreneurial people to share experiences, get support and to help build a confident and caring group of engaged members across all sectors of Scotland’s business community.

Which sectors would you like to attract?

It is important that IoD Scotland appeals to all sectors in Scotland. That is what gives it strength in being able to represent  wide community of interest and to connect those groups to the highest levels of good governance, giving us all confidence in helping to build an outward looking and ambitious Scotland.  There are specific business sectors that will grow exponentially over the coming years and our ability to harness the very best of technology, the innovation in life sciences that Scotland is rightly recognised as a leader in the world, will help us all to learn to be more agile and engaged in the “fourth“ revolution that makes Scotland such an exciting place to be.

What is so unique about Scotland?

That is a challenging question for all of us, as Scotland has a number of USP’s in my view. We underestimate just how well educated a workforce we have in Scotland, with great Universities and Colleges, and in my view we do not push this hard enough. Many of the international businesses I worked with saw Scotland as a rich source of talent and I think that helps us in the future to adapt to the technology revolution that continues to accelerate. We have some of the best innovators around and we need to continue to strive to develop, harness and retain that talent in Scotland. We also happen to live in the most beautiful country in the world! We are an outward looking people, and sometimes we forget just how many strengths we have here in Scotland. IoD is proud to be play its part in helping to build those strengths.

What does Scotland offer business leaders?

If you look at what I have already said above, Scotland is a great place to do business. We all have our part to play in nurturing talent, ensuring that we engage across all of our communities to bring the very best to growing Scotland as a place to work  live and prosper. It may sound trite, but I do believe we have a huge amount to offer to business leaders, not just locally, but internationally. For example we have some of the best regarded entrepreneurial programmes and entrepreneurs supporting those programmes that are helping literally thousands of people to start and grow their businesses across all sectors. We need to do more of this and over time we will enhance our reputation as one of the most entrepreneurial countries in the world.

Please tell me about something IoD Scotland has done in the past year that you are particularly proud of?

From an IoD perspective I have been honoured to be part of the new Scotland Advisory Board and to meet so many fantastic “volunteers“ who want to help build IoD in Scotland. I am particularly proud of our engagement with the next generation of business leaders with the Young Directors Forum and I look forward to engaging with them and other members across all of the regions.

What are you most looking forward to, as IoD Scotland chair, in the next 12 months?

These are exciting times, full of turbulence and change  and it is important that IoD remains both relevant and a force for change. For me the most important thing we can do is to engage with our members and to reach out to future members with an offering that will appeal across all sectors. Renewing and refreshing our approach over the next 12 months and building on the great work already done will ensure that IoD is recognised as a leader.

Finally, what's your personal business ethos or who do you admire as a business leader?

Gosh, so many things immediately come to mind.  My own ethos has always been to be transparent and open with everyone you meet, and to try to help others succeed. Seeing people grow and be successful gives me personally the greatest reward. There are so many great business leaders that I admire it would be impossible to name one only. And that is just thinking about Scottish leaders!

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