Catherine Bell - Mearns & Company

Catherine Bell is Managing Director at Mearns & Company, having joined the organisation in September 2000. A multi-award winning financial planning company based in Edinburgh, they have been providing chartered planning and employee benefits advice since 1994 and show no signs of slowing down!

We spoke to Catherine about her experience on the Entrepreneurial Scotland eVolve programme.



Having worked with Skills Development Scotland in the past, Catherine was delighted to be approached by them to take her leadership development even further and join the eVolve programme cohort that SDS were investing in.

Despite knowing of many people who worked with Entrepreneurial Scotland previously, Catherine never really knew how she could get involved with the organisation, so she grabbed the opportunity with both hands. Catherine said “It was an honour to be asked and meant a lot that I was thought of by SDS. I’ve always thought that ES looked interesting with a vibrant community and the opportunity sounded amazing!”.

The next step was an over-the-phone diagnostic with ES to establish Catherine’s confidence levels in certain areas of her business. This would then be used to help shape her learning journey on the eVolve programme. When asked about her motivations for joining the programme, Catherine reflected: “I was keen to get involved as I have a really positive impression of what ES is about and keen to become part of their wider community. I love learning and meeting new people, and as someone who likes to be part of a group, the cohort style of the programme really appealed to me.”


Although Catherine had a vague idea of the programme structure and content, she approached it without any set expectations. When asked about her thoughts of the cohort, Catherine said “I loved the peer community aspect, being able to learn from others, bounce ideas together and share resources and challenges. What I didn’t expect were the extra events that we could join, for example, the webinars that were open to all.”

Due to Covid, the entire programme was delivered virtually. Despite being a resounding success, it wasn’t without its challenges as Catherine explains, “It was a shame we couldn’t ever get together face to face. Relationship building is easier when you’re doing it in person.”

I loved the peer community aspect, being able to learn from others, bounce ideas together and share resources and challenges. What I didn’t expect were the extra events that we could join, for example, the webinars that were open to all.


Integral to the eVolve learning is identifying key areas of personal development. For Catherine, this meant time management, and how to separate management and leadership. By using the tools and techniques she gained as part of the cohort, Catherine has been able to develop her team and carve out her own time to focus on strategic development, something that has greatly benefitted the business. “I wanted to develop the team and give them more responsibility, whilst focusing on what I can lead. It’s helped everyone because they have developed in new ways. I was holding onto things that I enjoyed but it wasn’t always appropriate for me to continue with. I can now focus on more strategic work and this has allowed the team to step up and achieve beyond what was previously possible.”

Learning to delegate has benefitted Catherine in other ways too. She now has the time to focus on networking and business development, a key priority in her own 5-year plan. From a wellbeing perspective, it has allowed her to recalibrate her work/life balance, reducing her working week to 4 days and enjoying a more balanced life outside of work.

In addition, as part of the wider ES community, Catherine was given the opportunity to get involved with the interviewing of potential Saltire Scholar interns, a role that she relished. “I really enjoyed the interviewing process. It adds a different dimension to what ES can offer leaders like myself. Connecting with younger people at the start of their career journey was inspiring!”


One of the most important aspects of eVolve is revisiting the results of the initial diagnostic at the end of the programme. This allows participants the opportunity to reflect on their journey and the progress they have made, whilst being honest about their own vulnerabilities. For Catherine, this meant acknowledging the emotional impact of lockdown. “In terms of personal resilience, I was feeling ok and on top of things. However, during lockdown there were times when I struggled emotionally. I thought I was bulletproof, but I realised I wasn’t”.

By enabling business leaders to identify and express their vulnerabilities in this way, our leadership programmes help to build personal resilience and self-belief by equipping participants with appropriate tools and techniques to navigate through uncertainty. This in turn will lead to better personal and business outcomes, and a brighter economic future for Scotland.

Before signing off, Catherine had these final worlds “I’d encourage anyone that’s curious about learning opportunities with Entrepreneurial Scotland to get in touch with them to have a chat!”

Word of mouth is so important for organisations like us, and who knows where that initial conversation may lead.


If you would like to talk to Entrepreneurial Scotland about our leadership programmes and how they can benefit your business please email