28th Jan: WeDO Inspiration

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  • WeDO Inspiration with Andy Tait
     28 January 2021
     12:30 pm - 1:30 pm

“I read a quote recently in fellow WeDO member Atholl Duncan’s new book, ‘Leaders in Lockdown’, from Leena Nair, the Chief HR Officer at Unilever. She said “Companies with Purpose Last, brands with purpose grow, and people with purpose thrive”. At this event, I will explain about how developing a clear purpose has been the key driver behind the turnaround and growth at GreenAcres. I will be joined by Charlie Dawson from The Foundation and Derek Proven from AGS Airports who will provide their experiences of the importance of having a clear purpose in business.”  Andy Tait

Andy started his career in the Clydesdale Bank in Bridge of Allan as a graduate trainee and moved in 1994 to a brilliant business finance company, Alex Lawrie which led him to Leeds for a few years leading an internet start-up. He then moved back to Scotland to open a new subsidiary for Bibby Financial Services in Edinburgh which grew to become the largest independent invoice finance company in Scotland. He subsequently joined the UK Board for 5 years, firstly running the Northern division, and then UK Sales & Marketing Director.

By then, Andy was needing a new challenge and an opportunity came up to work on some struggling businesses within the parent company, Bibby Line Group. He spent 3 years on business turnaround work which he found fascinating, and led him to review GreenAcres Group, a Woodland Burial company. He was immediately taken by the business, its people, and the opportunity, and he led the MBO of the business in 2017.  This led to a merger, and an institutional fundraising exercise in 2018 and since then he has been working on growing the business to become more influential in the sector.

Andy was proud to win our Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2019 recognising the transformation of the GreenAcres Group.


I grew up in Lochgilphead in the West Highlands which I do appreciate for its stunning beauty now, but must confess that it rather passed me by as a teenager! My friends and I were all longing for a more fast paced life and I left for Stirling University when I was 18. Since then I have lived mainly in Edinburgh and spent a few years in Leeds in my late 20s. I am married to Debbie and have two kids, one at Dundee Uni and another going through his teenage years, and our cavapoo, Lottie, who is the only one in the family who is always glad to see me!! I have always been into sport, and my two claims to fame are:

  • Losing by the biggest margin (8&6) in the 2nd round of the Scottish Boys Golf tournament after my clubs were stolen the previous evening from my Dad’s car;
  • Completing a Half Iron Man in Prague in 36 degrees in 2018. It took me almost 7 hours and nearly killed me!


Charlie Dawson established The Foundation in 1999 to help organisations succeed by being customer not financially led.The Foundation is a proudly independent management consultancy helping organisations achieve customer-led success. Easy to say, hard to do.

The Foundation helps clients to see the world from the outside-in, exploring new perspectives to reconnect with what customers really value, and to find new and better ways to create it.  Charlie and his team then give it impact, building belief that being customer-led really will lead to commercial success. Since 1999 they’ve worked across many areas that contribute including strategy, proposition development, customer experience management and developing customer-led beliefs.

His inspiration came from working on a new car company launch that disrupted an inward-looking industry.  Recent projects include helping the Morrisons turnaround, finding their voice as foodmakers and shopkeepers with a sense of purpose and belief, helping Be the Business tackle the UK’s productivity crisis, helping The National Trust find sources of growth to complement their membership offer, and helping John Lewis flesh out a future in Home Services.

He has a book about customer-led success to be published in May 2021 explaining why something looking attractive and obvious is rare and usually temporary.  Charlie has a degree in Manufacturing Engineering.


Derek Provan joined AGS Airports, which owns Aberdeen International, Glasgow and Southampton airports, as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in April 2018.

As the second largest airport group in the UK, AGS carried over 15 million passengers in 2018 and directly supports approximately 10,000 jobs.

Prior to joining AGS Derek was at Heathrow for 6 years in a number of roles culminating in the position of Chief Operating Officer. He spent 3 years as Managing Director of Aberdeen International Airport. Derek started his aviation career in 1998 at Glasgow Airport where he went on to hold a series of senior roles. He has a BSc in Fire Risk Engineering, Masters Degrees in Risk Management and Business Management and Research.

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