Evelyn McDonald

CEO of Scottish Edge
BA Communications

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Why did you choose to study at GCU?

At the time it was Glasgow College of Technology and they had just started offering a Communications degree. I was attracted to go to a technical college because I wanted to get a degree that I could get a job with.

I really enjoyed my time at university. We had some amazing lecturers and I liked the community, the students. I also joined the drama group at the time and had a lot of fun with that.

What did you do after you graduated?

I got a job with the Wise Group in Glasgow, in their communications department. My first job was editing the in-house newspaper, copywriting and contributing to the design. At the time we were focussing on fuel poverty and heating issues. I did that for a year and that was great.

My next job was at Glasgow Opportunities, an enterprise agency who were supporting people into business. I also ran a small PR company business on the side for two years during this time. I then ended up in the head office of the Prince’s Scottish Youth Business Trust, as operations manager, and eventually assistant director.

Four years ago I came into Scottish Edge as CEO. At the time it was being delivered by the Scottish Government and I was tasked with taking it into the private sector, so essentially I had to set up a private social enterprise.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your current job?

The most rewarding thing is the impact we can have on businesses that we help. The amounts of money we can give out are life changing, so you’re supporting businesses to do quite amazing things and you’re helping them in that journey. I had someone phone me the other day and she said we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Scottish Edge, and that’s obviously very gratifying to think you’ve made a difference.

What advice would you give students at GCU, particularly those who might fancy themselves as entrepreneurs?

I work with GCU’s business school from time to time and do talks and encourage students to look at Scottish Edge. The key piece of advice I would give entrepreneurs is that it’s not an easy option to take but it can be really rewarding, it needs to be something you feel really passionate about, and it’s nice if there’s a purpose attached to that as well. There are a lot of ups and downs in business so try to build a good team around you, either going into business with someone else or drawing people to you that will work to help you deliver your vision. Also know that your idea is something that customers want – that people are interested in your ideas and are prepared to spend money on them.

What do you consider your best achievement in your career?

It think it would probably be Scottish Edge because when I got involved I was told there was enough money to get it through three years. Now we’re going into year five, we’ve got a very strong, healthy bank balance, and we’ve had a significant impact on entrepreneurship in Scotland. We’ve proven it’s not just a short-term business competition; it’s a long-term sustainable business with an impact for years to come.

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