At 15 I left Wick High School in the north of Scotland, with no qualifications to start work on a farm. You could do that in 1957. Although, at the time, I had no appetite for matters academic, I found science easy, spent hours building model aircraft and machines out of Meccano; engineering was in my blood. That was enough to win a coveted apprenticeship with the UK Atomic Energy Authority at the nearby Dounreay atomic reactor research establishment, setting me on the road to become a fully indentured instrument technician and opening the door to Loughborough University. My school day bete noir, mathematics, became one of my favourite subjects, helping me on the way to a First in Electrical Engineering.
After a spell as a Scientific Officer, I left Dounreay to join the Honeywell corporation as a computer systems designer before moving to Hewlett-Packard where I held product management and telecommunications test R&D team leader roles. That was back in the days when H-P, primarily an instrument company, was an exemplar of how to operate a technology business. The experience gave me many of the tools I required to run my own show.
H-P marked the end of my employment with large organisations as I then set out to try my hand as a technology entrepreneur. From the Scottish Highlands we designed, manufactured and sold products to four corners of the globe. The first of my ventures is still going well after 40 years, having changed hands on the journey. The ‘80s oil crisis was brought another of my ventures its knees though promptly resurrected by new investors; an edifying experience of great value in what was to become my true mission.
The ‘90s took me from running small tech. ventures into mentoring entrepreneurs starting up and providing hands on management to early stage companies across a wide range of industries from food processing to silicon design. Part of that involved delivering on the job training (apprenticeship really), to budding entrepreneurs. It became clear to me that too many ventures are doomed to failure before they open their doors for business, mainly because the founders have not done their homework before starting up. It was the spur for me to establish the Entrepreneur Business School with the aim of providing newcomers to business with a pragmatic approach to building a solid foundation for a successful enterprise. I have helped many entrepreneurs on their road to fortune.