Hypergrowth with a difference

I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in several different flavours of hypergrowth over the past 30 years.

I scraped my way out of school, got my Engineering Degree and a few months later I was working for NCR.  It’s the early 90’s and we are in hypergrowth mode making over 200 ATMs per day.  Next stop CEO.  Roll on a few months and I’m on night shift, learning a new set of skills (and some choice language) during the era of the Timex strikes.

A few years later, I joined McQueen, a printing company that pivoted into a Scottish Tech Giant, 90’s style.  We provided European product, sales, and support services to companies like Microsoft, Adobe and Kodak Digital (who?).  Before I knew it, I ended up living in Manila for a couple of years, setting up the same business model for Intel.  That was a hypergrowth journey not to be forgotten!

In 98 we sold McQueen and a few of us started APAC Teleservices in the middle of the dot.com bubble….yes, I saw the other side of hypergrowth.  So, what next?  I applied to Accenture; a safe place to be. I thought I would try it for a couple of years. Boom – 20 years later and Accenture has grown from 60,000 to 674,000 people. 

The great thing about surviving (some call it working) at Accenture, is that the company re-invents itself every few years and you need to move with it. I worked with leading brands across Financial Services, Retail, Public Sector and Energy, but I found a home in Comms, Media & Technology (CMT).

All my work focused on growth, whether it was B2B or B2C.  Along my journey I saw my clients go through some unbelievable pivots as consumer and corporate behaviour changed while technology and society evolved.  It was hypergrowth as we know it today.

Innovation life changer

But before I get to the “should I stay, or should I go now?” moment, there is a big game changer that I missed out of the Accenture narrative. Innovation – but not as you know it.

My career in Accenture was kind of chequered (in a positive way ).  I was not your archetypal ‘join as a graduate from a Russell Group University’. I was part of the ‘experienced hire’ experiment.  I was a bit more of a maverick.  At performance review, I was the guy there was always a discussion about – the experienced hire who never conformed. I’m dyslexic, I’ve been thrown out of school, got a 1st class honours, an MBA and I was a Scot abroad (…in London town).

So, why am I sharing this story with you? Simply because it’s the backdrop to how I think and how I eventually lead a project to rethink how Accenture engaged our clients.  Within a year of making Partner, I had created Accenture’s first multimillion dollar flagship Innovation Centre in London, an experience that totally flipped how we engaged with clients. 

Our form of innovation was used in a business context to help our clients create their own strategic breakthroughs. This was the moment in time that really solidified how I think and has shaped my journey ever since.  It helped me see things in a different way.

Back to Scotland

So…back to the “should I stay, or should I go now?” moment.

In parallel to the work I was doing across innovation at the company, I ended up as Country Managing Director for Scotland. This was when my eyes were opened to a business ecosystem I did not know existed and where my new journey began.

When I took on the role, I did my digging, and could not believe the vibrancy of our business and entrepreneurial community in Scotland.  From Data, Cyber and Health to Gaming and FinTech, it felt like this was our best kept secret. I questioned: how was I not aware of the multitude of opportunity within Scotland’s business landscape? Why is Scotland not shouting from the rooftops about this?

I could not help feeling that Scotland was punching below its weight, so I went on a mission to position the Accenture Brand as an enabler of growth.  We sought to represent our thoughts to Government, support industry bodies and generally bring our expertise to the marketplace.  However, we were a corporate brand in Scotland. I’ll say no more.

So then comes Covid, we restructured, and there was a deal on the table; ”should I stay, or should I go?”. Many dog walks, bottles of wine and spreadsheets later, I decided to retire from Accenture.

I decided to focus my time on helping Scottish Companies grow. BUT , as in my own maverick way.

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