What It Take To Succeed In The World Of Business? | A Q&A with Martin McCourt
Martin McCourt was the driving force behind Dyson becoming a £1bn global brand.
His wealth of expertise, complemented by his new ventures since leaving Dyson, makes him a popular speaker on the corporate circuit.
We were lucky enough to sit down for a few moments to see if he had any special secrets we could share.
You had an incredible journey at Dyson, becoming a £1bn revenue generating company for the first time in 2011. How did you galvanise the workforce to achieve this incredible feat?
We hired top quality people and we encouraged them to generate ideas, to be constantly creative. To find ways of doing things which were different and better than what others did. We gave them the space, the encouragement and the challenge to be exceptional. Not just designers but also accountants, customer service….each and every discipline. Our organisation pyramid had the CEO at the bottom, supporting everybody else, not all lofty and important at the top!
How did you change the way you worked in order to successfully break into new markets?
When multiple new markets are your goal then you have to be prepared to flex your plans to accommodate local nuances, cultural and competitor landscape. Maintaining a strong, consistent identity is important but so too is being prepared to adapt, market by market.
Since you left Dyson, you've gone on to work within a variety of start-ups. How did you adapt from working as part of a large organisation to being part of a smaller one?
The biggest change I have found is that there are fewer resources so you have to roll your sleeves up. I quite like that and it is a good experience for everyone in business to have a taste of 'tight' working!
What was the most challenging step on the journey from being a start up to an organisation with a global reach?
My experience of start ups is that they are most challenged right at the start due to limited resources, cash/systems/people, and unlocking growth given these barriers can be a huge challenge. It is easy to talk about scaling up but much harder to make it happen.
You've also been involved in Board of Your Life, ensuring adults have the maths and science skills to succeed in the global economy. What did you learn from that experience?
We have a huge skills gap in the UK, over 40,000 STEM roles that industry has to fill and for which we do not have appropriately skilled youngsters. We are a hugely inventive Nation with an enviable legacy of great inventions over hundreds of years. We will erode that status if we fail to do a better job at matching educational output with Industry requirements. Not easy but critical.
If you had one message you wanted to leave your audience with, what would it be?
Ideas, ideas, ideas. If your business is good at creating an environment for your employees that encourages the generation of loads of ideas then you are in with a great chance of winning in your market place. If your business is not good at this then you are likely to be disrupted by others who can!
And finally, when you are not working, how do you like to relax?
I like to play tennis (badly!) and catch up with friends and family. My wife, Liane, and I often travel together. There are so many places where I have not visited or I did so but was not paying attention because I was working!
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