AlumniAdrian Gillespie

Course studied: MBA, 2005

Position at time of writing: Chief Executive Officer, Scottish Enterprise

Tell us about your background

I was born and raised in Glasgow. My father was a teacher, and my parents made education of their children their top priority.

Why did you choose Strathclyde?

I researched MBAs and Strathclyde’s triple AMBA accreditation and the feedback I’d had from people who had undertaken an MBA at Strathclyde led me to apply there.

I found that my Strathclyde MBA had given me the knowledge and confidence to take on very demanding roles at SE, including in sectors that were new to me. I became more involved in our international business and led efforts to secure international investment into Scotland in emerging renewables and low carbon technologies, including securing the Offshore Energy Catapult with Sir Jim McDonald.

Where are you now? 

I became a member of Scottish Enterprise’s Executive Leadership Team in 2013, then left to join the University of Strathclyde in 2018 as its first Chief Commercial Officer, and then I returned to Scottish Enterprise as CEO in September 2021.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

The main highlight of my career has been working for two organisations with a very strong purpose and impact on the society and the economy. Other highlights include supporting innovation in offshore wind, wave and tidal energy and seeing these innovations being deployed in Scottish waters, and also launching the Glasgow City Innovation District, Scotland’s first innovation district. I’m very much looking forward to the openings of the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland and the Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre, and the future development of international innovation districts in Scotland.

Being appointed CEO of Scottish Enterprise was another highlight. To lead an organisation that I know can be a real driver for change in the economy is a huge privilege and responsibility. To be appointed to this role from Strathclyde both gave me lots of fresh ideas but also shows the leadership position Strathclyde has gained in economic development and innovation.

Ambitions for the future

For the future I want to see Scotland rise in the international innovation league tables. Scotland is in an unbelievably strong position to drive innovation and deployment of renewable energy and net zero in areas like floating offshore wind and green hydrogen, and COP26 strengthened our already significant global reputation. Also, Scotland’s life sciences capability is very distinctive, building on the strengths of our brilliant universities.

Scotland has lots to contribute to delivering a net zero, healthier and more sustainable future for all.