As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to deal a significant blow to the UK economy and the knock-on effects are felt on businesses and supply chains, CEO of Derbyshire training provider Qualitrain Group, Richard Bates, tells the Leaders Council about how his firm is looking to deal with the loss of income streams by exploring means of innovating and seeking out new opportunities. Meanwhile, Douglas Ross, who was confirmed as the new leader of the Scottish Conservatives on Wednesday, has promised to produce an economic recovery plan within the next month.
Leadership in Focus
For Qualitrain Group CEO Richard Bates, although the Covid-19 pandemic has been a challenging and sensitive time for many, he has eyed up the lockdown period as an opportunity for directors and staff to take a new leadership stance.
Speaking on the Leaders Council podcast, Bates said: “Leadership is determined by others. You cannot determine how many other people are going to follow you, so it is important to create a vision of the future and enthuse those around you. You must motivate and drive people toward a shared goal. To make this work you need to establish a team with a good balance, and at Qualitrain we’re fortunate to have built a rounded senior management team with different abilities.
“Covid-19 has been a difficult time for many, but it has been an opportunity for business leaders to get into the trenches with their staff and show those good qualities of leadership and really motivate those around them. It is important as a leader not to be insecure and to show your skills while also encouraging others to shine and do their best.”
The Qualitrain team has certainly not gone through the pandemic thus far without feeling the heat of the crisis, as Bates explained.
“Being involved in the education sector, we have felt the impact of the outbreak since March. Based in Derby as we are, many of our clients tend to be in the manufacturing sector and our training programmes are focused on planes, trains and automobiles, working with organisations like Bombardier, Rolls Royce and Toyota who have all felt the pinch.
“We have found ourselves looking to get through this with our staff and associates’ jobs intact. If we can accomplish that, then it is something to be proud of.”
Elaborating on how Qualitrain has sought to navigate its way through the Covid-19 storm, Bates explained that adaptability and innovation has been key to allowing the business not only to maximise its income streams as much as possible during this time, but also to uncover new and lucrative opportunities.
Bates said: “We have reassessed our markets, identified the extent of our ability to maintain our income stream and done so where we can. We have been reliant on the furlough scheme during the pandemic, with 75 per cent of our team on the scheme at one point. However, we are well into the process of bringing people back.
“We have seen Bombardier’s need for training procedures go up amid a requirement for extra personnel to help out on trains which has been good for our business, and during the lockdown we have had a period of self-reflection and recognised a need to change and adapt to modern technology.
“While the staff team have been furloughed, we have asked them to develop their IT skills for online provision through training exercises, and that will be important for our future plans to innovate, so we have used our time over lockdown effectively to help safeguard the future of the business.”
When asked about Qualitrain’s plans to redevelop its offering and open up new income streams, Bates hinted that the firm had learned real lessons from the lockdown period and sought to take advantage of a shift toward remote provision of services.
“We have set out a goal to change and develop new income streams and during the lockdown, we have refocused and built a new IT system, tasked marketing consultants to help us move forward, and we are looking at improving our ways of delivering online training.
“We feel we have found a unique offering that we can provide to industry which will be our driving income stream in the future, but it will take a year to go from development to market. We are putting infrastructure in place to get to that point, supported by our existing income streams being maintained. The world is changing, and our future will be far more based around e-learning.”
Moray MP Douglas Ross has been confirmed as the new leader of the Scottish Conservatives this week, having been the only candidate to put his name forward by the deadline of noon on Wednesday.
Having secured the leadership without being contested, he will replace Jackson Carlaw whose surprise resignation came last week after less than six months in the role.
Ross will now set about the task of pushing the case for keeping Scotland's place in the union and leading the Scottish Conservatives into next May’s Holyrood elections in its bid to prevent the SNP from forming another majority.
However, as well as offering a fresh new leadership for the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, one of Ross’ major pledges in becoming leader included the publication of a plan for the economy within his first month as leader, which he said would be needed to tackle “the worst recession that this country faces”.
Speaking on Good Morning Scotland in the days leading up to his confirmation as leader, Ross accused the Scottish government of “ignoring economic concerns that are on the horizon” as a result of Covid-19,
Ross said: "People in work and out of work are struggling, and that's why today I'm focusing on the economy."
He said that he did not think anybody could question the “support and investment in Scotland” that had come from Westminster throughout the pandemic, highlighting the increase in Universal Credit as one example.
Ross added: "What they can question is the economic policies of the Scottish government and its own advisers."
Leadership in History
On August 7, 1965, the then prime minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, signed a separation agreement with Malaysia after two years of political union.
The signing of the Independence of Singapore Agreement 1965 by Lee Kuan Yew and Malaysian premier Tunku Abdul Rahman granted independence to Singapore, with full independence from Malaysia within the Commonwealth of Nations coming into effect two days later.