Meet the Entrepreneur of the Year finalists

The Entrepreneur of the Year award will be presented to the individual that has led an organisation or enterprise of scale to strong growth in revenue, and profits through innovation, teamwork and leadership skills.

Steve Dunlop, Chief Executive, Scottish Canals

Steve Dunlop is Chief Executive of Scottish Canals, a public corporation responsible for the restoration and renewal of Scotland’s 137 mile canal network, which includes two of the nation’s most iconic tourist attractions – The Falkirk Wheel and The Kelpies.

Over the last decade, Steve has become a leading public sector entrepreneur, expertly guiding Scottish Canals through a renaissance with a new vision for the nation’s 250 year old inland waterways, asking not what the canals are for but who they are for. He has re-imagined these important industrial assets as corridors of opportunity which greatly benefit the people and economy of Scotland today.

Steve’s forward thinking, innovation and passion has helped Scottish Canals diversify its core business to go beyond the boundaries of traditional public sector thinking to generate more income and deliver positive lasting change for canalside communities. Examples of this can be seen with the Glasgow Canal Project, where the canal corridor in North Glasgow is being transformed into a bustling arts and creative community with an urban sports playground, multi-use spaces and a new hilltop village featuring over 600 houses.

While urban areas benefit significantly from these regeneration projects, Scottish Canals also continues to breathe new life into rural communities on the Crinan and Caledonian Canals with the development of sustainable tourism offerings aimed at creating new jobs and stimulating the local economy. Steve is a member of the VisitScotland Board, previously was Director of Regeneration for Newcastle City Council and, prior to that, held a Directorship at Falkirk Council.

 

Tarak Ramzan, Chief Executive, QUIZ plc

Tarak Ramzan is founder and Chief Executive of QUIZ plc and the driving force behind the Group’s success to date. Tarak left university after his first year to help his father manage his manufacturing business. Taking up the reins at 18 years old, Tarak Manufacturing specialised in producing ladies tailored garments and had a workforce of 25 people.

By the 1990s, manufacturing in Britain was shifting rapidly to the East and trading was becoming more difficult. Tarak knew the business needed to adapt so he took the decision to move into retail and opened the first QUIZ store in 1994. Tarak has successfully grown QUIZ into an internationally recognised omni-channel brand with more than 300 standalone stores, concessions, franchises, wholesale partners and international online partners across 20 countries. The company now has more than 1400 members of staff and has recently expanded its retail offering to Spain, with the launch of three standalone stores and a Spanish e-commerce website.

In July 2017, QUIZ was admitted to London Stock Exchange’s AIM following a successful placing with institutional investors. QUIZ successfully raised £102.7m and had a market capitalisation upon admission of £200m. This was the largest retail IPO of 2017, the second largest on AIM in the year to date and Scotland’s leading IPO this year. The listing will enable QUIZ to re-invest £10.6m to accelerate growth plans; notably online and internationally.

Aside from QUIZ, Tarak has other business interests and a portfolio of residential and commercial property companies. He is also involved in mentoring several start-up companies.

 

Gareth Williams, CEO and co-founder, Skyscanner

Gareth is the CEO and co-founder of Skyscanner, a leading global travel search site and app which provides online comparisons for flights, hotels and car hire.

A keen skier, it was Gareth’s frustration with finding cheap flights to visit his brother in the Alps that led him and two friends, Bonamy Grimes and Barry Smith, to create Skyscanner. It all started with a pub brainstorming session and a simple idea: to create a site that compares flight prices for every single commercial airline in the world.

Skyscanner initially grew by word of mouth. Today, over 60 million people visit the site every month. As CEO, Gareth’s 14 years of experience as a developer for financial institutions and retail companies have helped him make Skyscanner one of the top digital travel companies in the world.

The company employs over 900 staff in ten offices across the world and continues to enjoy impressive growth. Helping travellers book more than 2million flights a month, Skyscanner’s multi-award winning mobile app has been downloaded over 60 million times, with mobile searches accounting for over 60% of traffic.

In his spare time, Gareth enjoys playing chess and has a love for literature and the arts. He is renowned among colleagues for his incessant drawing during meetings.

 

The Entrepreneur of the Year finalists were profiled by media partner, The Herald. Read the full article here.