Youth learning, employment and enterprise angel leads business lecture

The founding leader of one of Scotland’s most successful youth learning and enterprise charities was inspiring the minds of the next generation of businessmen and women in Aberdeen.

Ken Milroy, chief executive of renowned social enterprise organisation Aberdeen Foyer delivered the 2010 Absoft entrepreneurship lecture at the Robert Gordon University and was quizzed by its students.

He has been at the helm of the Foyer since 1996, overseeing its rise to become one of the most important charitable organisations of its kind in the country.

Mr Milroy spoke to a group of around 300 students during the annual lecture, which is now in its 14th year and has been sponsored by Scottish software consultancy Absoft since 2002.

Some students from Aberdeen Business School have already experienced first-hand the successes of both Absoft and Aberdeen Foyer, among other companies across Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, as part of year-long internships.

20-year-olds Glenn Buchan, who is working with Foyer’s part-owned driving training business Roadwise, and Ruth Chapman, who is with the organisation’s communications and marketing team, were among yesterday’s audience.

Mr Buchan has, since attending last year’s event, set up his own business with a university colleague, manufacturing placemats for the campus’ dining rooms which feature advertising from local companies.

Ken Milroy said: “It was a great honour to present the Foyer’s business story to students today.

“There seems to be a real growing interest in social enterprise and we have some fantastic examples of successful businesses here in Aberdeen and across Scotland combining enterprise and social purpose.

“Aberdeen Foyer has had a long-standing relationship with the BusinessSchool at RGU and with Absoft so it was particularly pleasing for me to have their support for today’s event.

“Learning is at the heart of the Foyer’s approach and I hope we have been able to impart a bit of that to the students today.”

He outlined some of the challenges the Foyer’s business and charity streams face, such as securing funding which facilitates both its commercial development and wider community involvement.

Absoft managing director, Ian Mechie, said: “Aberdeen Foyer is one of the most motivational business stories in Scotland, and has made an enormous contribution to the lives of its staff, clients and community.

“Its success is down to the belief of its supporters in the ability of our young people, and to its youthful clients who have worked so hard and helped the organisation become a major force in our communities.

“Ken Milroy has led the Foyer since its inception and his passion, and wide-ranging knowledge will help to inform and inspire students at the school, many of whom may be planning setting up in business themselves.”

The session was introduced by Dr Heather Fulford, Academic Director of the RGU Centre for Entrepreneurship and Ian Mechie, managing director of Absoft. Professor Rita Marcella, Dean of Aberdeen Business School, closed the lecture.

A short career and enterprise fair, led by representatives of Aberdeen Foyer, Aberdeen Business School, Absoft and the Scottish Institute for Enterprise took place following the event.