We talk to Nick Sturge, South West chair, and director of Bristol’s enterprise hub Engine Shed, about South-Western diversity…
Why are you proud to represent the IoD?
I understand the economic imperative for strong and effective leadership of enterprises, and the IoD promotes and enables continual improvement at director level.
What is the IoD’s role for business leaders in your region?
The IoD helps enable entrepreneurs to create and grow new businesses and we help leaders of businesses develop themselves and their organisation, and represent their interests locally, regionally and nationally. We also have a role to play in supporting emerging leaders coming out of schools, colleges and universities.
Tell me about your region
The South West is a large and diverse region: some 2500 IoD members across 9,200 square miles from Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, across to Dorset and up to Gloucestershire. We have world strengths in aerospace and advanced engineering, high-tech, financial services, creative industries and renewable energy as well as significant tourism and food production.
Which sectors would you like to attract?
Given the diversity of the region and breadth of higher and further education institutions, the talent pool is probably richer and more capable than most. Hence the South West is keen to see new businesses in all sectors start up and invest here.
What is so unique about your region?
The strength of the South West is the diversity: industry, public/private/third sector, ethnic, age, geography (some of the best surfing beaches in the UK, as well as three UNESCO world heritage sites). Our extensive coastline and source of expertise drawn from the aerospace, high-tech and marine industries has enabled a strong capability for renewable energy – probably one of the big opportunities for the future. Similarly, the ‘cyber cluster’ around Cheltenham, Bristol and beyond is a domain that will inevitably be the target of significant new investment.
What does your region offer business leaders?
IoD South West is renowned for its strong relationship network across the branches, and gets great feedback for its role in providing senior level peer-to-peer support on a regular basis.
Tell me about a recent highlight
We recently identified the opportunity – and responsibility – to help leaders coming out of the armed forces develop business skills from IoD courses and events. This initiative has been very successful for the IoD, the individuals involved and for business.
What are you most looking forward to, as IoD regional chair, in the next 12 months?
We see education as our biggest opportunity: partly in the promotion of CPD events for existing and potential members, but mostly through working with universities, colleges and, to a lesser extent, schools. Apprenticeships have an increasingly important role to play and we need to help employers take advantage of that.
Finally, what's your personal business ethos?
My ethos is to encourage leadership beyond authority, which relies on vision, trust, intelligence, partnership and integrity. My favourite quote is from Harry S Truman: “Leadership is the art to have people do something they dislike, and have them enjoy it”.