Andy Wilson - Aquascot

Andy Wilson is Head of Commercial for Aquascot, one of the largest employee-owned businesses in Scotland and sole distributor of responsibly sourced salmon and trout to Waitrose (part of the John Lewis Partnership). He attended the Entrepreneurial Scotland Managing Growth course in Boston in October 2019, after joining the company earlier that year.

THE OPPORTUNITY:

Andy Wilson was recruited by Aquascot as part of the businesses next stage of growth plans and in his new role as Head of Commercial, he would be responsible for driving the partnership forward, as well as developing and diversifying it.

Building on a historical relationship between Niall Macdonald, MD for Aquascot and Jules Lancaster, Head of Executive Education for Entrepreneurial Scotland, it was decided that Andy would attend the Entrepreneurial Scotland Managing Growth course in Boston in October 2019 as this would kick start his 5-year growth journey with the business.

As part of the course attendance, Jules Lancaster spent some time coaching Andy, discussing positive drivers around ‘strengths’, ‘motivations’ and ‘ambition’ to balance any negative ‘blocks’ and ‘barriers’ that he may have identified, before agreeing to his personal learning objectives. Following several meetings with her, he flew out to Boston to attend the Babson element of the course.

OUTCOMES:

Upon reflection, Andy feels that the Entreperenerial Scotland Managing Growth course has given him the confidence to think and act in a way that now makes his voice much louder in the business. When he returned from Boston, he also spent time sharing case studies and learnings with his leadership team, which are now being put in to practise as they work to evolve the wider growth strategy of Aquascot.

Andy comments, "The style of teaching and the life experience of the teachers at Babson was what resonated with me most. Everyone was either doing really well or had had outstanding careers. These people were tremendous in their own field and were giving back in terms of their learnings, which were based on experience. As a result of this, it was much easier to resonate with the learnings and suggest that we implement a number of them into our business.”

Andy also feels strongly that the cohort he shared his learning experience with was one of the most powerful elements of the programme. He comments, "There was an enormous amount of depth and diversity in the cohort and we were all able to voice our own opinions and ask our individual questions, whilst watching and learning from others. I also found the additional networking opportunities that surrounded the course so useful and this also really contributed to shaping and influencing my thinking. Being able to offer a good amount back into conversations really boosted my confidence too.”

During Andy’s time on the course, he built a strong working relationship with Mark Kemp, MD of FortyTwo studio in Aberdeen. Andy was aware of the fact that the marketing practises for AquaScot needed significantly modernising and following his return from the course, and after a competitive pitch process, FortyTwo studio was appointed as the digital marketing agency for Aquascot.

As a result of this, Aquascot launched their new website four weeks ago (August 2020) and have seen more traffic directing email enquiries in the last month than they had previously witnessed in the proceeding 20 months. Andy continues, "We are also getting much better traction with our linked in posts so this is a huge success story or us.”

Upon reflection, Andy feels that he might not have been so quick to identify some of the weaknesses in their business and would likely have been further behind on the journey. Andy feels it would have taken longer to deliver the same results as the confidence and learning that he acquired during the Managing Growth course has enabled him to move at a much faster pace and with much more confidence. As a direct result of this reflection on his success, he recommended that his colleague Simon Wrench, FD for Aquascot, also attend.

Andy continues, “Waiting to do this course would have been the wrong thing. It came at the perfect time for me and has really helped me to understand the business and trust myself with big decisions. This is why I also feel so strongly that I shouldn’t be the only person on our leadership team to have had this opportunity and with Simon also attending it, we will be able to share our learnings, speak in the same language and drive the business forward even further.”

Andy feels that the skills learned during this process will enable him to develop and improve on aspects of the business for years to come. He has gained a stronger awareness and understanding of how to effectively appoint non-exec chair roles in the company and he feels that through streamlining this process, he will be able to tap into bespoke skill sets at a time when the business requires them most.

Andy concludes, “ I will always take the time to touch base with my cohort and see how we can support each other and positively affect each other’s thinking. It’s almost like we can mentor one another – pulling on our skill sets and learning from each other, which is just amazing. Investing in leadership is so important and it’s made me realise that when my kids are older, I want to put some money aside so that I can offer them some of the same experiences in life which have helped to shape my outlook.