Ian first graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 1993 with a Sociology degree and no clear idea of what to do. Falling by chance into a job as a librarian and general assistant for a small financial publication, Ian became fascinated with finance, markets, and companies, sparking the drive and desire for self-improvement that saw him start a rapid growth upwards through the business side of a raft of Fintech companies.
2005 brought around the opportunity for Ian to come back to Edinburgh to take his MBA.
"It was a fantastic year. I never missed a class, I met my wife, and learned a lot about myself that has subsequently helped me in the next stages of my career."
In 2012 Ian relocated from London to Southern California. Having spent some time working in Fintech, Ian went into business for himself, co-founding Enshored, an outsourcing company set up to help disruptive technology companies scale and grow.
"Just as we strated moving towards meaningful size, my business partner and co-founder died from a brain aneurysm. I can say that without doubt this was the worst day of my professional life, and he remains the closest person to me who I have lost."
A key lesson for Ian during these challenging times was that you must trust the people around you. When you give them responsibility and ownership, great things can happen.
Since Enshored started, the business has grown from an idea into a 700-person company, operating primarily from two offices in Manila, growing at around 200% year on year.
"A further lesson I have learned is the absolute need to always be networking. I make sure I stay in touch with as many people as possible, and any trip to a different city is an opportunity to reconnect with who I know, or to learn what businesses are based there and what opportunities there could be to work with them."
Having driven the growth of Enshored, Ian has taken the chance to launch a second company, Fast Circles, a sports marketing business aimed at supporting the huge growth in interest in cycling and eSports cycling racing in particular.
"I will always have time to give to help others with their careers. I find the most satisfying thing of all is being asked your opinion as someone faces a career crossroads. You know then that you touched them in the right way."
How does it feel to be selected for the Alumni 100 list?
"I am excited to be recognised on such a prestigious list. My fellow alumni are a testament to the quality of education that the School provides."
What made you choose to study at the University of Edinburgh Business School?
"I studied the School's credentials alongside the other top business schools and saw that Edinburgh had the right mix of students. Having a cohort that featured so many backgrounds–countries, functions, and experience–was a huge part of the learning experience for me."
What are your memories of studying at the Business School?
"Not only did I really enjoy the educational side, I made lifelong friends including meeting my wife on the programme."
What key thing that you learnt at the Business School do you still rely on today?
"For me, the lessons from the entrepreneurs we met stuck with me. 'Better is the enemy of good enough' and 'Ready, Fire, Aim!' have become key pillars in how I manage Enshored."
Proudest work-related achievement to date?
"Building Enshored from the ground up to be one of the fastest growing companies in the US. Not bad for a Scotsman who came from a family with little experience of entrepreneurship!"
What's the one thing you think current students need to develop or learn before entering the modern workplace?
"Everyone needs to learn and accept that they will fail multiple times in life. It's ok–it is part of learning to deal with things outside of their control."
Prior to my MBA, I'd been moving up through the ranks within what we now call FinTech companies. After graduating, I went back into FinTech but at a higher level, eventually managing a global division of a company called Dealogic.
In 2012, I switched gears, moving from London to live in Southern California. As there were few opportunities in FinTech at the time, I moved into managing an outsourcing firm, and then a year later I founded Enshored. Fast forward five years, and the firm is growing rapidly; we have over 200 staff and are about to open our second centre in the Philippines.
On the MBA, I really enjoyed the group work and the challenges it threw up. I really enjoyed working with people from different backgrounds and I use that experience every day managing a diverse team. It also has helped me in interviewing MBA candidates from other schools. If someone has done group work then that is the basis of my interviewing - and how people responded and reacted to group work has been for me a huge indicator if there will be a fit with my personal management style.
One of the best things about the MBA was meeting all my cohort. I married a fellow MBA student, I hired another to help me run Dealogic, and I have had help along my journey from countless others.
Running a business is not easy, there is a lot more stress than when you are an employee, and having this great support network has been huge. Sometimes it might just be talking things over with a classmate when I am in another city - the little things like that really matter.
Involvement with the Business School
I recently gave a career talk, and hope I can build on that. When I was on the MBA, the guest speakers from business made a huge difference and impact on me. I think about some of the advice I was given and how it resonated with me more than the lessons or management books I have read since. I hope I can be a part of that moving forward.
I am also an entrepreneur, looking for talent. I would be really excited if I can find students at the Business School who would be a good fit for my company.
A key lesson for me was that you must trust the people around you, and that when you give them responsibility and ownership, great things can happen.