Following a raft of business recognition successes, the head of the latest Scottish engineering success story has praised his topflight business mentor support as “generous and invaluable”.
Iain Hutchison, managing director of Perth-based Merlin ERD, has highlighted the contribution made by leading Scottish businessman Bob Keiller in assisting him to establish Merlin ERD as the world leader in advanced Drilling Engineering services.
The chief executive of Wood Group, one of the country’s largest companies, has been acting as mentor to Mr Hutchison over the past 18 months. In a series of one-to-one sessions, the head of the multinational oil and gas service company headquartered in Aberdeen has provided guidance and encouragement.
Now at the end of their official involvement, Mr Keiller says the specialist in the extended reach drilling sector is “well placed” to become one of Scotland’s outstanding industry leaders. And the former chairman of the Entrepreneurial Exchange said he had been delighted to act as mentor during the months of growth and development.
“I recall the many people who helped me in the early stages of my career and I want to give something back to high-potential Scottish companies,” he said.
“It was clear when Iain approached me that this was a fantastic business and if there was a way that I could support I was only too willing to do so,” explained Mr Keiller.
“The business has continued to grow throughout our mentoring period and this is not down to me,” he added. “A lot of experiences I have been through are relevant to Merlin’s situation and the challenges Iain and I have faced are similar in so many ways. I am confident that Iain now has a clear sense of what the future might hold and how to get there.”
Last year Merlin ERD was awarded the coveted Queen’s Award for Enterprise; Iain Hutchison was then shortlisted for the title of Scotland’s Leading Entrepreneur in the Scottish Chambers of Commerce Scottish Business Honours; and the company finished the year by sweeping the boards at Perthshire Chamber of Commerce’s Business Star Awards, taking the ‘Business Growth’ and ‘Excellence in Exporting’ Awards before claiming the ‘Business Of The Year’ title. The company has also been shortlisted for the 2015 Queen’s Award for Enterprise in both the Innovation and International Trade categories and is also a finalist in the 2015 Offshore Achievement Awards.
Merlin continues to make inroads into new and exciting markets overseas as well as providing cost-saving services to leading international oil and gas companies, which is in ever more demand given the current oil price.
“It can be quite lonely running a business,” explained Mr Hutchison, “and the generosity in terms of time, experience and support from someone at the very top of their game in the industry like Bob Keiller is outstanding.
“His mentoring has been inspirational - I leave each session enthused. It is wonderful to have someone of Bob’s credibility and with no vested interest to challenge you so candidly,” he said. “Someone to help you see the options and how to choose. A man who has been there before and can help you focus and manage your aspirations.”
Mr Keiller mentors at least three individuals both within and outwith Wood Group at any one time and Mr Hutchison said he was “privileged and grateful” to have been one of the chosen few.
“It would be great if I am able to develop my skills so that I have the opportunity to give something back to others in the same way,” he said.
Mr Hutchison approached Mr Keiller asking if he would become his mentor following an inspirational speech by the Wood Group boss to the Oil Club.
“Mentoring of this calibre is of immeasurable value,” he said. “I would like to encourage the next generation of Scottish businessmen and women to get out there and simply ‘ask’ - as I did.
“My experience is that the very best in the business are extremely generous with their time to others further down the ladder and I’m so grateful to have had that opportunity given to me by one of the industry greats.”
Mr Hutchison’s mentoring programme will not go on ice, however, as he is already working with support and guidance of his new counsel - acclaimed Scottish entrepreneur and engineer Jim McColl OBE who developed Clyde Blowers.
Adapted from press release by Joe Green