Saltire 10th Birthday - Post 11 Peter Telfer

Without the connections and experience built up through the Saltire Scholar Programme, this experience would have been much more difficult. Through this network, I’ve been supported by industry experts and proven business leaders, all of whom understand the journey and challenges of running a business.

“Since the formation of the Saltire Foundation in 2007, our Saltire programmes have been on quite a journey. We have supported over 900 individuals that have taken part in our world-class leadership programmes, many of whom have heightened their ambitions and achieved things they never thought possible. Our mission has always been to find, fuel and spark the next generation of leaders for Scotland, and looking back over 10 years of success it is clear we have some of the most talented, determined and capable leaders within our alumni. Now part of Entrepreneurial Scotland, our alumni are part of a wider network influencing economic and social change for our country. To celebrate 10 years of Saltire, we will be shining a light on 11 inspirational alumni members, showcasing their fantastic journeys since taking part in our Scholar or Fellow programme”

- Sandy Kennedy, Chief Executive of Entrepreneurial Scotland

Post 11: Peter Telfer, Business Partner at Urquhart Opticians and 2008 Saltire Scholar

It was January 2008 and I vividly remember sitting one afternoon in the library at Strathclyde University completing my dissertation, while thinking about what might lie in store that summer. Attending Strathclyde Business School, I had a real appetite to get a taste of the ‘real world’ and it was an email that I received that afternoon that changed the course of my career to date.

Applying for the Saltire Scholar Internship Programme was a memorable experience and following the application process, I was delighted to be placed with the Jumeirah Hospitality Group, working under their Director of Regional Marketing. It was a great cultural experience and the work was challenging. Not only that, it was an opportunity to network and to get to know fellow students who had career aspirations that matched my own.

Following the programme, I had a feeling that I wanted to try a more unconventional route in terms of my career, finding a job on Gumtree with entrepreneur John McGlynn. I remember being intrigued by the advert and I was not disappointed by the journey that John took me on, giving me the opportunity to run his start up Self Storage business. However, it wasn’t long before my Saltire connections came to the fore again, working with Entrepreneurial Scotland Chairman Chris Van Der Kuyl and Saltire Fellows Neil Campbell and Ian Webster at brightsolid. This was another great experience where I learned about the importance of culture and I finished my time at brightsolid working in the sales team. In sales, I had really found something that I was passionate about!

But that desire to run my own business had never left me and there was an opportunity to acquire Urquhart Opticians, with long time friend Alistair Duff. It isn’t an industry that I ever expected to be in and the business was in some distress, but the leap into the unknown has so far paid off. However, without the connections and experience built up through the Saltire Scholar Programme, this experience would have been much more difficult. Through this network, I’ve been supported by industry experts and proven business leaders, all of whom understand the journey and challenges of running a business.

Looking to the future, I’d like to grow Urquhart Opticians, taking our model and applying it in other locations. I also want to keep giving back and I am currently the Regional Director for Glasgow and the West for Entrepreneurial Scotland. I work with a great team who are helping to build and shape the network, making sure that Scotland fulfils its ambition to become ‘the most Entrepreneurial Society in the World.’

If not for my Saltire Experience, I wouldn’t be on the journey that I’m on today or have the support that I’ve got.