Brian Gregory has been an Entrepreneur in Residence at Lancaster University for many years. One of the things he finds most valuable about his role is the opportunity to interact with entrepreneurship students. Brian finds teaching students a rewarding undertaking that allows him to pass on his years of knowledge of the outside world of business to students who have little or no hands on experience to relate to.
“Business to be taught well needs to be done so in the round, with both theory and practice”, Brian states, as he sums up his motivation. He enjoys helping students to make sense of the theory of business and cherishes the moment when they start to understand what they are learning.
Brian has been at the forefront of an innovative new teaching model that sees entrepreneurs co-create learning events in collaboration with module tutors. He recently delivered his first complete lecture, bridging practice and theory, for which he received ovations from attending students.
He takes inspiration for teaching from the experience of setting up his own business 14 years ago. Safety Management UK's growth is undeniable; it is now the largest provider of fire risk assessment software in the UK.
Brian is a staunch supporter of the work done by the University's Department of Entrepreneurship and Strategy, and he has attended a variety of meetings with external stakeholders, such as the Employee Engagement Taskforce. As well as bridging the relevance gap between theory and practice, Brian wants to provide a practical interface between the University and Small Businesses.
Being an Entrepreneur in Residence with Lancaster University Management School (LUMS) has helped Gill Hall to reflect on her business strategy and personnel. For Gill, being an EIR has shaped her personality as a business leader and given her ways to improve the structure of her business, Butlers Farmhouse Cheeses. Gill has always found that emotional support is as important to her as the application of practical tools and in her years as an EIR she has seen both become available to her through executive education offered by LUMS.
Gill has taken part in several of the programmes on offer such as LEAD to Innovate (L2i) and GOLD. Furthermore, she has been a regular attendee of the Masterclass series and has spent time teaching entrepreneurship students.
Being part of the network of entrepreneurs, with the opportunity to share issues and experiences, has helped Gill to develop the confidence required to make her business more robust. Gill also cites the exposure to relevant and applicable insights during masterclasses as a benefit to being an EIR and a helpful reference point when her business comes under pressure.
During her time working closely with the University, Gill has met peers with “infectious enthusiasm” for the power of small businesses and has learned about LEAN manufacturing, which she has embraced and successfully implemented at Butlers Farmhouse Cheeses.
Joe Towers of Lune Valley Dairy Farm discovered new market opportunities following his engagement with the University’s China Catalyst Programme. Since joining the community of EIRs in 2014, Joe has governed significant growth within his business - a task which has helped him to improve his own personal development. Joe believes that many of his business' recent accomplishments can be traced back to the University and his development as an EIR.
Not only has he been able to build strong and lasting relationships with other entrepreneurs by attending the Lancashire Forum network and business programme, Joe has also seen his business diversify as he ventures into new territory supported by Lancaster University’s China Catalyst Programme.
Joe first looked at exporting milk to China as a way to benefit from a growing demand for foreign dairy products. However, the changing economic climate meant a rethink of this strategy was required and as demand slowed so did Joe's enthusiasm about exporting to the country.
Still, this didn't stop Joe's view that dairy production is directly affected by foreign policy. Joe said, “China has influenced the global dairy industry so much that a dairy farmer in the UK is waking up and the biggest decision that is going to affect his business is what China decides to do with their interest rate.”
Reluctant to withdraw from this Chinese market, Joe decided to help develop solutions that could boost consumers’ confidence in Chinese dairy products. He now works with an American data company on technological solutions that would improve the traceability of dairy products. He also collaborates with four students from the China Catalyst Programme who are helping him to develop this technology from China. Joe hopes to see the products become marketable in both China and the UK in the near future.
Sue Anderson from Pendle Doors has been inspired by a consultancy challenge involving one of the world’s leading creative agencies. Sue, who joined the Entrepreneur in Residence community in 2013, wanted to give something back to the University after witnessing the strong support her daughter had received as a student with Lancaster University Management School.
Sue leads a family business which has grown from three to 32 employees over the last 20 years. The development of Pendle Doors, a manufacturer of fire doors and door sets, has greatly benefitted from her engagement with the school, its members and students.
Through talking to students and her fellow EIRs, Sue has been able to reflect on her own practice as an entrepreneur whilst receiving invaluable unbiased, outside feedback on her business. Overall, the experience of becoming an EIR has been unquestionably positive for Sue and her business.
In 2014, Sue participated in the Consultancy Challenge programme which took place partly at Saatchi & Saatchi, London, and here at Lancaster University. The programme provided our EIRs with the chance to gain insight into the innovative thinking behind one of the world’s leading agencies and, in many cases, gave helpful tips and ideas for strategic changes that could be applied to their businesses. It was CEO Kevin Robert’s presentation that would change the way Pendle Doors operates. Sue went away with several creative thinking techniques, such as role play and blue sky thinking, as well as the idea to implement a 90 days planning horizon to help make her company more efficient.
Sue enjoys access to a network of like-minded business leaders through being a member of the Entrepreneur in Residence community. She enjoys the opportunity to share advice on issues that are familiar to entrepreneurs across a wide range of different businesses.