Motivation beyond Money, with Jim McColl

Director Jamie Livingston discusses the importance of ‘Motivation beyond Money’, following the final Leadership Conversation of 2015 with entrepreneur and philanthropist, Jim McColl.

There can be no doubt that listening to Jim McColl’s personal achievements is both inspiring and motivational. What really stands out is his drive not only to better himself, but to give back to the wider community. His latest achievements show a passion both for education and Glasgow’s industrial past that reflect his own experiences.

Following his own less than positive experience at secondary school, McColl went straight into an apprenticeship with Weir Pumps. Making his way up the apprenticeship scheme, and working in a senior role at Weir, he gained a place at university to study technology and business. His subsequent experience as a company care consultant and then as a private ‘company doctor’ allowed him to raise the capital to achieve his long-term goal of buying his own business, the now globally renowned Clyde Blowers Capital.

So far, so impressive.

But what really hits home when listening to McColl is not just his remarkable business acumen, or undoubtable talent for wealth creation, but his insistence that personal wealth and achievement is simply not enough. He has a firm belief that those with skills and networks such as he has, have a duty to give back not only to their local communities, but to the country as a whole.

McColl has been a long-time advocate of the regeneration of the West of Scotland, through his own business endeavours, currently focussed on the resurgence of Glasgow’s ship building history at Ferguson’s shipyard, and his involvement in schemes to encourage young people off benefits and back into work.

One of his most recent projects, and arguably his most innovative, is Newlands Junior College, where we were lucky enough to host our latest Leadership Conversation. The College, situated in the very building where he began his own apprenticeship with Weir Pumps – another company he rescued from closure in 2007 – was established in 2014 by Jim and his Partners to provide a new form of education focusing on alternative curricular programmes aimed at young persons who may be at risk of disengaging from their current secondary school education.

So far, the school, which McColl describes as “a step between school and college” has achieved remarkable success. Each pupil was referred by local schools as unlikely to receive any qualifications. At the College, pupils have the option to study maths, English, physics and IT, as well receiving education in life skills through programmes such as Duke of Edinburgh and Outward Bound. They attend college placements, and are guaranteed an apprenticeship, a place at college, or a job when they leave.

The school has attracted attention from the Scottish Government, as well as fellow Scottish philanthropists, and there are plans for similar establishments in Edinburgh, Dundee and North and South Lanarkshire. It is Jim’s goal to revolutionise the Scottish education system, and he is confident that he will do so, believing in ‘leading by example’ rather than leaving it to the Government to progress.

A huge advocate of positive thinking and visualisation, coupled with a distaste for constraints imposed by others, McColl is doubtless a visionary who is working to strengthen Scotland from the ground up, and it is very clear that he is not done yet. It was a privilege to listen to him speak, and a fantastic way to end our Leadership Conversation programme for 2015.


To find out more about our Leadership Conversations in 2016, please contact [email protected]

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