Derek Smith

Owner, ElmSeat Consulting

Derek Smith

As part of our ‘Meet the mentors and subject experts’ series we’re talking to Derek Smith, a Help to Grow: Management mentor.

Tell us a bit more about yourself and your career

I am a Chartered Accountant who never wanted to be constrained in finance and therefore have spent a 35 year plus career oscillating between Managing Director and CFO roles in various industries. This continued curiosity has allowed me to accumulate substantial financial, commercial and leadership experience at Board level in businesses ranging in size from £5-100 million plus and in industries including FMCG, oil and gas, Consultancy, FMCG Distribution, Automotive inspection and Automotive dealership consultancy.

What is your particular area of expertise?

I have particular experience and expertise in leading business transformations whether that be as a consequence of change in ownership, acquisitions and integration, strategic direction or turnaround.

Transformation draws on many skills; building and leading teams of diverse talents, building and retaining confidence of funders and importantly being able to identify a strategic direction and then drive through the micro changes that are needed to deliver the strategy.

I have worked extensively internationally in North America, Europe, SE Asia and Middle East and secured multi million contracts in UK and diverse locations including Malaysia, Serbia and Qatar.

HOW WILL HELP TO GROW: MANAGEMENT HELP BUSINESSES TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS TRANSFORMATION?

The Help to Grow scheme will help business leaders access a unique combination of academic knowledge and the practical experience of those who have been there before. This will allow them to develop their skills and the tools needed to deliver a Business Plan.

DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR SENIOR LEADERS PLANNING TO GROW THEIR BUSINESS? 

There is a myriad of advice available to leaders seeking to grow their business. If I had to select three things to concentrate on it would be know your purpose, why are you doing this? have a plan and build the best team you can…. and then realise there is a fourth and that is the plan won’t survive first contact with the market so be prepared to be flexible.

AS A HELP TO GROW MENTOR, WHAT ARE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO DURING THE PROGRAMME?

I offered my services as a mentor because I want to share my battle scars and give something back. So, I am looking forward to helping the next generation of Scottish SMEs but know I will probably learn as much as I contribute.

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