AlumniLindsay McQuade

Course studied: BA (Hons) Economics, 1997

Position at time of writing: CEO, ScottishPower Renewables

Interesting fact: A career highlight for Lindsay was standing in a top hat and tails for a “Greatest Showman” themed staff conference in her first year as CEO – her role that day was to pave the way for the future and re-energise the entire ScottishPower Renewables team to believe they could realise their greatest ambitions and take their part in the clean energy transition

Tell us about your background

I was born and educated in Glasgow, joining Strathclyde Business School in 1993. With a keen interest in Economics, I elected to study it with Business Law to 3rd year before selecting Economics as a single honours subject, graduating in 1997.

After a short stint in banking, I commenced my career in energy with ScottishPower. Roles in audit, treasury, risk, strategy, policy and regulation, and compliance followed during a time when the energy transition has been well and truly in play. Having audited a coal fired power station 20 years ago, and now leading the renewables business for ScottishPower, I’ve had a career filled with challenge, change and put my economic thinking to good use when shaping strategy, influencing policy and investing in the technologies that will support a cleaner, greener electricity system.

In addition to my degree, I’ve also studied for several professional qualifications in Treasury (AMCT), Strategy (London Business School), Compliance (SCCE) and Iberdrola Executive Leadership Programmes (ESADE/IMD) – continuous learning has been a feature of my career since leaving university, building on the foundations established at Strathclyde.

Do you have a highlight from your time at university?

My graduation in 1997. My grandfather was very ill in the Royal Infirmary – I wore my robes to go and visit him prior to the ceremony. He couldn’t have been prouder. He was a joiner for the Glasgow Corporation, and university wasn’t even an option when he was considering how he’d map out a career. He died soon after and I was very glad to have been able to share this achievement with him.

How did your time at Strathclyde prepare you for your current role?

As a student of Strathclyde Business School, I was afforded the opportunity to work across several subjects in my first year. New subjects, new challenges and new colleagues were a feature of this formative year and stretched my thinking as well as facilitating an environment to work with others to advance that learning.

Progressing beyond first year, with a focus on economics and business law, I began to appreciate the interaction of markets, government, regulation to create economic benefit, investment and opportunity.

Taking this experience into my career, enhancing it with post-graduate studies and experience with a focus on risk, strategy and leadership, has been essential preparation for my role as CEO of ScottishPower Renewables.

What has been your most memorable moment from your career so far?

My most memorable moment was standing on a stage closing our annual staff conference in my first year as CEO. With the entire ScottishPower Renewables team present, and having come out of period where the strategic vision for the business had been limited by government policy and the degree of ambition for onshore renewables, my objective was to present a shared vision, reenergise the team, and for every one present to understand what their role in making it happen. The theme for the conference was “The Greatest Showman”, and standing in my top hat and tails, we rewrote the stars, looked to the other side, and saw we’d have to walk a tightrope to realise a million dreams!

Two years on, the business is performing well, with a committed, passionate team making it happen, and I remain as enthused today as I was back then.

Do you have any final points or words of wisdom?

When I started my University career, it was a four-year course with a degree at the end, all going well.

Looking back, it was much more fundamental – it was the start of my lifelong journey of learning which has served me well in enabling my career.

Maintaining a connection with the University of Strathclyde some 20 years after I graduated is symbolic of the importance of my time there and I’m deeply honoured that the University has awarded me with a Strathclyde Executive Leadership Award in 2021.