Meet the Scholar Host - Scottish Leather Group

We're delighted to welcome host company Scottish Leather Group to the 2021 Saltire Scholar Internship Programme. Today, we hear from Head of Human Resources, Mark Cowan, on the importance of embracing fresh, entrepreneurially minded talent in their organisation and industry.


ES: Please tell us about Scottish Leather Group?

MC: Scottish Leather Group is the largest manufacturer of leather in the United Kingdom employing over 600 employees globally across 7 locations including: Scotland, China, Germany, Mexico and the USA. We are proud of our heritage as a long-standing Scottish manufacturer, which is steeped in tradition, and we have prospered through the years by continuously looking forward by adopting best in class manufacturing principles which has helped us develop the lowest carbon leather in the world. Our specialist leathers are produced for a wide range of industries including: automotive, aviation, bus and coach, rail, furniture and custom projects. Our customers include: Aston Martin, Volvo, Jaguar Land Rover, Ford, Emirates Airlines, Boeing and Philips.

ES: What have been the main leadership challenges you’ve faced over the last year?

MC: The obvious COVID challenges exist which has meant we have had to adopt, very quickly, different ways of working both in our manufacturing facilities and at home. With this, we’ve had to ensure our teams are kept safe, engaged and motivated as safety is our number one priority. We’ve also adopted on site Lateral Flow testing to ensure our people continue to feel secure.

ES: What have been your major successes over the last few years?

MC: Our successes span from new customers; meeting our sustainability ambitions; investments in new buildings, equipment and state of the art machinery; to seeing our apprentice programme go from strength to strength and being really proud of our local community work.

ES: Do you have any particular goals you’re focussing on for the year ahead?

MC: This year is really around getting through the COVID Challenges and hopefully getting all our people back to work safely as well as successfully complete our multi million-pound investment programs.

ES: You’ve just become a new host company with the Saltire Scholar Internship Programme and will be hosting five interns this Summer. What specifically attracted you to sign up to the programme and what do you hope to get out of it?

MC: We are really impressed with the quality of candidates on offer and the opportunity gives the Intern the platform to put theory to practice and develop their skills. It also supports SLG with important projects that helps us improve how we do things. It’s a win win situation for all.

We are really impressed with the quality of candidates on offer and the opportunity gives the Intern the platform to put theory to practice and develop their skills.

ES: When looking for new talent in your business, what are the most important qualities that you look for?

MC: Drive, enthusiasm and a hunger to learn, coupled with wanting to do the right thing every time for all our internal and external customers.

ES: Do you believe there is a winning formula for being a successful entrepreneur/ business? What’s yours/your organisations?

MC: Putting people at the heart of everything you do.

ES: What are some of the mistakes you wish you could have avoided, and have learned from?

MC: For me, personally, not practising golf enough when I was younger so that I could have toured the globe playing world-famous golf courses!


If you want to find out more about the value and fresh perspective a Saltire Scholar Intern can bring to your business, please visit the Host a Scholar page.

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