Sara Cook - Fellowship Learnings And Revelations

It’s the end of our penultimate week of the Saltire Fellowship at the Boston Campus, and over the past few days it’s really hit home how much we have all learned over the short time we have spent here. Entrepreneurial thought in action, the peg on which Babson hang their award-winning hat, has become second nature to us all, without there being so much as a conscious transition.

This week through global case studies, sales role playing, questioning our decision-making process, and an intense two-day scenario planning workshop – it’s clear to see the Saltire Fellows now feel firmly at home with innovation, disruption and a large dose of uncertainty. Instead of these terms feeling worrisome and problematic, we have reverted to seeing the opportunity which lies within these settings. Allowing us now, potentially, so see things others don’t.

Our two-day scenario planning exercise with Anirudh Dhebar shone a light on how enterprises remain resilient and alert to trends within the environment in which they operate. In order to ensure success, business leaders must not only be aware of what impacts on their organisations are possible and probable, but also what is plausible. It is this additional thought-process which makes good leaders great and ensures that there is resilience and planning factored into business strategies.

This freedom to explore the plausible had us breaking down assumptions and unshackling ourselves from our comfort zones, allowing us to see that challenging times don’t only happen when you are expecting them. Often difficulties have the multiplier effect – expertly demonstrated by the Blue Lagoon case study, which saw a highly profitable business struck by the global financial crisis, Icelandic banking collapse and Eyjafjallajokull volcanic eruption, all in quick succession. It’s times like this when you truly value the worth of your ‘core business’.

Alongside all of this in-class learning, it was also HUB week in Boston which saw science, technology and art come together to tackle some of today’s most relevant challenges. Our access to thought-leaders and innovators increased exponentially through the week-long programme which gave the cohort a chance to explore their specialist areas of interest.

It is this diversity within the cohort which forms one of the key features of this programme. Hailing from a variety of sector backgrounds, there is always someone who is able to provide a different perspective to your own. There are Fellows with ambitions to start their own ventures, some who wish to work alongside others to grow something unique, or those who are looking to return and scale enterprises in Scotland.

For the remaining three weeks of our time in the US we’ll be drilling down on the ‘how’ of these ambitions, learning from those who have tried, and sometimes failed, to do what we will set out to. Now we have much of the theory and knowledge behind how to make good enterprises better, it’s our responsibility to make sure the benefit is felt back home by not only sharing our learning, but ensuring we don’t stop pushing ourselves through many of the barriers we have already broken through.

Sara Cook, 2018 Saltire Fellow and Head of Saltire Scholar Programme at Entrepreneurial Scotland