Nick Livingstone's First 2 Days as a Saltire Fellow

The first thing that you notice is the quality of individuals in the room who come from every background imaginable. Both the guest speakers and other Fellows are of the highest calibre. On the first day, we had Marie Owen of LS productions, who has started a business to showcase Scotland and its beauty through photo and film shoots; her inspirational story, like many we heard this week, makes you sit up and pay attention.

Later in the day we had the hospitality panel that included Paul Reynolds (Gin 71), Stuart Cassells (Edrington), Julie Grieve (InoApps) and Peter Lederer (The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo), all of whom engaged with the audience and discussed the challenges and more importantly the opportunities that the hospitality sector can offer in Scotland. The session was chaired by a former Saltire Fellow, Adam Hunter, who many in the trade will know from Arbikie.

Following the panel discussion, we met with industry representatives around the special project the whole cohort has been tasked with: the global challenge of waste tyres and how we can eradicate this issue. It is a truly huge problem and the numbers are staggering. Overall, it was a great debate and we started shaping some early ideas which made us all confident we can make an impact.

After dinner and a long day, we had an informal chat with Sandy Kennedy, Chris van der Kuyl and Colette Grant, all of whom are active and passionate supporters of Entrepreneurial Scotland and the Saltire Fellowship Programme, about the opportunity we are presented with through the Saltire Fellowship.

It is a daunting place to be until you settle as it is full of incredible, talented and driven people. Once we got to know each other the realisation of what we were embarking on sank in. It is a once a life time opportunity that I aim to grab with both hands and use to propel 7 Saints forward and to champion the hospitality industry as a real, viable and rewarding career path.

Day 2 kicked off with the photoshoot complete with dependably awkward poses but the props brought a lot of humour in the room and that really helped with bonding. We then had a great session from Strathclyde University Business School on the work they are doing and we had an opportunity to find out more about what to expect when we return from the United States which was insightful and engaging. Swiftly followed by another Alumni panel: after lunch we met Les Charm who heads up the Babson module in Boston. After a brief introduction, Prof Charm came across as down to earth, fun and hugely engaging. I can't wait meet him and pick his considerable brain on his thoughts on the food and drink sector. A finance panel followed that session and we got to engage with some of Scotland’s leading investors, be that through group, government or individual funds. These individuals must get pitched at constantly so to hear the dos and don’ts so early in our journey was really valuable. 

My summary of Day 2 is deliberately short because I would like to talk about the star of the day, Seonaidh MacDonald, who had a whole room of over 60 people hanging on his every word. He was humorous and engaging with humility and honesty. Seonaidh is without a doubt the greatest, most inspirational person I have met through Entrepreneurial Scotland so far; his story from his upbringing, through education, a corporate career, and then on to the mLED exit deal that has further propelled him into the spotlight, was told with great energy. It is not surprising that I went on to hold court in the foyer for a good few hours. What I took away from it? In short, if you put your head down and do the hard work until the handwork is done you can achieve anything.

If you get the chance, DO NOT miss the opportunity to hear from such an inspirational entrepreneur.