Ross Turner - Pure Malt

Ross Turner, Deputy Managing Director of Pure Malt, a family-owned manufacturer of innovative malt ingredients for the food and beverage industries.

THE OPPORTUNITY:

When Ross returned from Berlin where he completed his certified brew master’s qualification, he began to research further commercial training and leadership development options. After the Saltire Fellowship opportunity came up, he met with Sandy Kennedy, CEO of Entrepreneurial Scotland to discuss the prospect of attending. There were initially some reservations as he was going to comfortably be the youngest person on the course, but Sandy felt confident that Ross could bring a different dynamic to the group and get a lot out of it, without compromising the quality of the cohort.

Ross formed part of the second Entrepreneurial Scotland Saltire Fellowship cohort in 2013 and completed a year-long programme which involved a four-month stint at Babson College in Massachusetts, immersed in an MBA elective style programme with their executive education team, followed by a trade mission to Shanghai and then a work placement at Diageo back in Edinburgh.

OUTCOMES:

Soon after completing the Fellowship, Ross decided to work for the family business; Pure Malt which at that time, was turning over £11M for a profit of £150,000. Ross’s first priority was to look at modernising the business systems and infrastructures and for the proceeding three years, he elevated the business from a paper-based and excel spreadsheet enterprise to one with a systemic infrastructure, touching most operating systems and giving finance much better visibility of the temperature of the business.

Cash flow management was something that Ross promptly changed upon entering into the business. He recalls a conversation with Les Charm, Head Faculty member who taught him that ‘cash is king.’ “Les taught me that profits and revenue are important but they will look after themselves, businesses go out of business because they run out of cash so one of the first things I did when we put the systems in, was looking at accounts receivable and we found we had invoices that hadn’t been paid for as much as 2 years – it took over a year to tidy this up and recover a huge amount of cash.”

In 2016, Ross then took on the role of Commercial Director, leading the sales team, tasked with the sole objective of sourcing growth opportunities. Ross grew the Pure Malt turn over from £14M to £20M turn over and increased profit revenue from £150,000 to £3.7M per year. The impressive company growth led to expansion of the Pure Malt team, which in turn, created further job opportunities for Scottish residents. In 2020, Ross was then promoted to Deputy Managing Director, taking on more responsibility and coordinating the running of the business.

Upon reflection, Ross feels that the Babson element of the Saltire Fellowship has influenced his decision-making process as well as the initiatives implemented across the business. "Babson is completely unique because of the faculty – they are truly inspiring, and you get captivated by the way they deliver the material of the course and most of them have been very successful entrepreneurs themselves, they are not life-long lecturers, so their interpretations of case studies give very tangible anecdotes.”

“Since completing the fellowship we have launched 3 products in the last 5 years all based on the marketing theology that I learnt at Babson and one of those three launches is now our top-selling product. I am more confident in my ability to handle decision-making matters because of my engagement in that programme – especially with marketing and accounting,” says Ross.

Reflecting on his key learnings, Ross explained that he realised that at the age of 22 he was somewhat naive with regards to the fundamentals of leadership as he had previously associated these with Captains in Sport or the military however the experiences he learn at Babson taught him that being able to capture your own demons and use this quality to then relate to others and lead with compassion is so much more meaningful than barking orders and proving that you are correct.

As a direct result of the lasting impression that the Entrepreneurial Scotland Saltire Fellowship on him and fuelled by a desire to learn more about his role as an entrepreneurial leader, Ross chose to sign up to the Conscious Capitalism Catalyst in June this year (during lockdown), a new programme offered by Entrepreneurial Scotland. On this programme he engaged with Professor Raj Sisodia who is one of the co-founders of the Conscious Capitalism movement in America, encouraging businesses to behave more responsibly.

"This course has really helped me to think more about the way I lead in business which in turn will have a hugely positive impact on the Pure Malt workforce. It's about moving beyond the ivory tower and really working to understand the personal barriers that people face, and we will continue to reflect upon, improve and streamline our management processes,” says Ross.

Upon completion of the Conscious Capitalism Catalyst, Ross along with four other cohort members are now working to bring this to Scotland and in doing so, have created ‘Conscious Leaders Scotland.' They are planning to put on a series of virtual events targeted at driving more awareness around Conscious Capitalism across Scotland.

“Conscious leadership is about wanting to know more about the people that work for you and trying to engage with them at their level. These systemic issues need to be addressed and we need to lead with change. It's our responsibility as business leaders to heal the world because it's not going to heal itself and we are confident that by educating more businesses about this, we will be able to have a positive impact on many more businesses across Scotland,” concludes Ross.

Ross feels that his involvement with Entrepreneurial Scotland and Babson College has enabled him to make decisions that at 29, he would never otherwise been able to make. “I have been very lucky in having access to these programmes and being able to translate them into tangible value for our family business. I would always encourage people to do a programme with Entrepreneurial Scotland as it puts you outside your comfort zone and enables you to learn from some of the best entrepreneurial leaders as well as the people on your cohort.”