Global Entrepreneurship Week 2014

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As part of Global Entrepreneurship Week 2014, Goldman Sachs hosted a panel discussion in London with four business leaders on what it takes to grow a successful company. Moderated by Michelle Pinggera, international chief of staff at Goldman Sachs, the panel featured Julian Metcalfe OBE, co-founder of Pret a Manger and founder of istu and Metcalfe’s Food Company; Will Adderley, CEO of Dunelm Group plc; Rana Harvey, managing director of Monster Group; and Gav Winter, managing director of The Test People.

Winter, on recruiting: "We wanted our graduate program not just to select IT people but one that goes across any discipline. We take people from law, art, music -  anything really, plus computer science if we can get them because there’s not enough of them around in the market. Generally knowledge of IT needs addressing at Primary School Teaching Level to combat this issue."

Winter, on culture and values: "As a leader of a business, it’s really hard to spread yourself across 140 people. You need your people thinking, doing and continuing to build that culture without you. Implementing a proper mission statement, proper values and bringing in a real written vision that people can tangibly hang their hat from is paramount."

Winter, on the environment for growing a business: "I think the U.K. is a good place to grow a business because new technology, like cloud and software as service providers, have changed the playing field. You needed X, Y, Z tools, servers and the knowledge to implement it. You used to have to buy lots of software licenses and then the kit to run it on. Nowadays you can get away with no owned infrastructure for back office systems and licensing models are much more pay as you go. From a technology perspective, growing the business is so much easier now."

Harvey, on keeping up with growth: "The biggest challenge at the moment is actually keeping up with the growth. When you grow suddenly, the systems and processes that you put in place, which you thought at the time were wonderful, start to creak and they creak like crazy. So suddenly it’s time to upscale again, and it’s the upheaval of that which is challenging to deal with at the same time you are coping with growth."

Harvey, on being a sector expert: " If you look at my business portfolio, we have Monster Racking, Monster Chef, Monster Doodles. Doodles is a very specialist market. It’s all about graphic design, pressing, vinyl cutting. We initially didn’t know much about it, but with sheer hard work and determination, you can learn the market using fresh eyes. You can see where the weaknesses are in the market and address them in your own products or services, and as a result, excel."

 

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