A high level training programme for ambitious directors, social enterprise leaders and business owners in the Outer Hebrides has been instrumental in giving three entrepreneurs the drive to start a new business together.
Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) funds the Leadership for Growth initiative, which aims to help leaders across the region realise their personal and organisational ambitions.
In the past year, 25 directors and senior managers from organisations in Lewis, Harris and the Uists participated in facilitated sessions designed to encourage discussion with other likeminded leaders. A number of those participants benefited from the mentoring and skills development they received and identified an opportunity to work together for the first time.
The result is Orbit Agency which is a new company based on Francis Street, Stornoway. It combines the skills and experience of HS2 Compliance and its founder Claire Macleod; DM Business Solutions and its founder Diane Murray; and Third Sector Hebrides’ Chief Executive, Hector Macleod, previously of West Minch Salmon.
The company delivers a wide range of management support services for businesses including human resources advice, marketing and business development, health and safety and social media management. New relationships have also been created through the HIE-wide Leadership for Growth programme network, bringing business opportunities to Orbit Agency in Shetland and Orkney.
Claire Macleod from Orbit Agency, said: “For Diane and me, participating in the Leadership for Growth programme has been transformational. The programme met us exactly where we were and has enabled us to identify and create a new business in our home market in under 12 months. More importantly, we worked so close with the team of mentors, tutors and our fellow business leaders that we now have the benefit of a continual process of learning and development with a safe and trusted mentor group. It’s been a fast paced year and one that has really been a lot of fun as well as hard work and we would thoroughly recommend this programme to any leader looking to progress in business.”
Anne Macaulay, from HIE, said: “HIE’s Leadership for Growth programme has been operating across the Highlands and Islands for a number of years and we were delighted to set up the first one in the Outer Hebrides last year. We are committed to build on this success and are already looking to develop another programme as a strong pipeline of potential participants is emerging. Orbit Agency is an excellent example of how leaders can benefit from mentoring, coaching and participating in a network of peers.”
Nigel Scott, of the Institute of Directors - Scotland, which delivers the Leadership for Growth business training, said: “Some 230 directors and owner managers have experienced this programme. We are delighted that we could help Claire and Diane form Orbit Agency with the support of the training and one to one coaching. The links across the Highlands created by the programme are considerable, helping to maintain a sustainable and vibrant economy in rural areas.”
The programme is supported by HIE, run by the Institute of Directors (IoD) and is also funded by the European Social Fund (ESF).