Global Energy Group

Global Energy Group is one of Scotland’s leading energy service and contracting companies, with FY 2014 turnover of £470 million. Founded in 2005, Global Energy has grown rapidly through strategic acquisitions and organic development into a global network of thirty-six branded units, organized into five operating divisions with a workforce of more than 3,500. The units offer a wide array of services spanning niche to turnkey solutions for the oil and gas, nuclear and renewable energy sectors. In 2011, the family-owned enterprise sold a twenty-five percent stake to Japanese multinational Mitsui & Co Ltd, providing investment that helped fund significant growth outside the home market into Asia Pacific, the Americas, Middle East and Africa.

Gordon Farmer studied accounting and finance at the Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, and after graduation went to work for an accounting firm that offered a broad spectrum of service offerings. Over five years there, Farmer developed an affinity for a fast growth environment, and he gained exposure to a variety of activities, eventually moving from tax and audit work into corporate finance. When the financial crisis of 2008 reduced deal flow to a trickle, Farmer moved to Global Energy Group, seizing the opportunity to join another venture with growth aspirations. He initially served as the group financial controller supporting the CFO and spent several years working to develop and mature the financial systems, but his remit expanded into acquisition integration. In 2012, Farmer took on a portfolio management role, reviewing business structures of the operating units and assessing growth opportunities.

In September 2012, Farmer started the Saltire Fellowship at the urging of CEO Iain MacGregor, who liked the style of experiential learning available in US institutions and who had become familiar with the Babson-based program following the strong performance of a Saltire Fellow on a Global Energy internship. Farmer described some of the “big ticket” learnings and benefits he gained from the intensive, six-month program.

 Career Trajectory: “You get defined by your role and it can be difficult for people to see beyond that. Going to Babson enabled a clean break from the perception that I was primarily a finance person.”

 Importance of Selling: “Regardless of your role in the company, you are selling all the time, internally or externally, so you need to be aware of how to influence decision-makers.

 Power of Teamwork: “Pre-Babson I thought I needed to know and do everything myself to be successful. A good leader understands how to utilize, leverage and rely on the skill sets and capabilities of others to develop an effective and productive team.”

 Focus on Business Model: “There was a significant attention to drilling down into and understanding different business models that companies use to create value.”

Saltire Foundation: Gordon Farmer, Global Energy Group

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 Cultural Awareness: “Throughout the program and especially working for an American company taught me to focus more on the people and the cultural elements of business.” When Farmer returned to Global Energy he took on a portfolio investment management in which he worked with business unit leaders on strategic issues, such as integration, growth opportunities, executive development and succession planning. In 2014, he was promoted to VP Corporate Finance, where he continued the portfolio management role, including deep involvement in acquisitions. He described his approach: 

We project manage the acquisition process holistically, focusing on the integration, the cultural aspects of managing the business and how to how to get the business globalized. When we do deals, it's very important to understand the people that we are investing in and their aspirations. Too often corporate finance people focus just on the numbers of a deal and not on the people and what motivates them.

Iain MacGregor, CEO of Global Energy, commented on Gordon Farmer and the value of the Saltire Fellowship.

Gordon joined Global with a proven track record in Corporate Finance. We recognized further potential in Gordon; he is driven and determined and these qualities, coupled with his experience and qualifications, made him an ideal candidate for the Saltire program. Completing the program helped to unlock this potential, allowing him to move into a strategic leadership role within the Corporate Team. Now he focusses on portfolio management, and in this role Gordon has been instrumental in achieving group growth through multimillion pound acquisitions, particularly as we strive to internationalize the business.