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The Saltire Foundation: Investing in Scotland's potential

By Sandy Kennedy - Posted on 5 July 2013

Sandy Kennedy, Strathclyde Business School MBA Alumnus and CEO of The Saltire Foundation, discusses the independent enterprise charity’s work and its latest batch of undergraduate scholarships…

Whether it’s oil & gas, wind or wave, talk of Scotland’s natural resources is never far from the news. However there’s one of our natural resources that we often forget, and it’s our most important; our people.

When we established the The Saltire Foundation, we had a vision; to develop entrepreneurial talent in Scotland by giving our brightest students the unique opportunity to work with senior, influential people in some of the world's leading companies.

Supported by Scottish Enterprise, GlobalScot and Scotland’s International Advisory Board,  in the two years since we set out on this journey, as an independent charitable organisation, our groundbreaking Undergraduate Internship Programme has now given more than 400 students the invaluable experience, skills and knowledge, they need to become Scotland’s future leaders.

What’s more we’ve also established a Fellowship Programme to develop our existing business talent and create a new generation of confident, entrepreneurial-driven executives, ready to enhance Scotland’s commercial performance.

This year we received a remarkable level of interest in our prestigious programme, with a record number of candidates for undergraduate internships. After much deliberation we were able to whittle down initital interest in the thousands to 103 talented Scottish students – of which 13 are from Strathclyde Business School – to take an 8week internship with a world-leading company.

During the coming weeks these students from 15 universities across Scotland, will join 35 organisations, in fields as varied as engineering, marketing, finance, law, tourism and international relations, in 36 different locations across the world. They will work with internationally recognised companies such as Amazon, BAE, Barclays, Diageo, GlaxoSmithKline, IBM and Wood Group, in locations from Hong Kong and New York to - for the first time this year - Chennai in India.

The record-beating 2013 programme will help these students realise their potential through challenging work experience, designed to increase their commercial knowledge and give them a global perspective.  Working closely with employers, we also hope these students will take the opportunity to build connections with the business community in their first steps toward establishing their own networks.

This is of course fantastic, but it’s also just the start. In the next five to ten years, we want to forge even more relationships with world-leading companies and we want to provide opportunities for 200 new fellows and 700 undergraduates.

Two years in, we’ve taken the first, satisfying step towards our aim of creating a pipeline of confident, entrepreneurial and driven young executives, who are ready to enhance Scotland's commercial reputation in the global arena.

Scotland has a long established history of sending people out into the world to seek opportunities. As some of the most talented and ambitious young people the country has to offer, these students are carrying on this tradition and I am sure that they will do their country and themselves proud as they step onto the international arena.

What else can we do to develop our entrepreneurial talent? How early should we start? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below:

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