Margaret Gibson OBE

Deputy Chief Executive at EY Foundation
HND Communication Studies 1982


Margaret Gibson OBE is the Deputy Chief Executive for the Ernst and Young Foundation. Its purpose is to inspire and engage young people across the UK who are at a disadvantage in the jobs market and help them to fulfil their potential and help make them more employable. We found out more about her mentoring work which led to an OBE, and her time as a student at GCU. 

Margaret was 23 when she started her first business in food manufacturing. She cut her business teeth by getting involved with start-ups. However, her first taste of striking deals came at an unusual point. 

“The bug for youth entrepreneurship started at college when I was in a band as the singer. My role was to try and find gigs, book vans and make sure we were paid. 

“Looking back on it now, it was probably my introduction to the world of business and I realised that I actually really liked it,” she said. 

In 1999 she became the Marketing and Communications Manager at The Prince’s Scottish Youth Business Trust until she earned a senior position as a Director. 

She said: “The harder I’ve worked, the luckier I’ve got. To stand out from the crowd, have a can do attitude. Roll your sleeves up and get on with it. There will be days where something magical happens.” 

She then became Chief Executive of Women’s Enterprise Scotland where she mentored female entrepreneurs as they grow their own businesses and take on leadership roles. 

She is currently a governor at the University of the West of Scotland and a founding trustee of smartSTEMS.  She is also a Trustee of the Lens, supporting organisations to consider intrapreneurship. 

Margaret’s lifelong mission is to help others to fulfil their business ambitions and inspire people from a young age. At the EY Foundation, she helps young people from disadvantaged backgrounds realise their potential. 

She said: “I’ve been blessed with working with young people for most of my life.” 

In 2015 she was the first woman in Scotland to receive a Queen’s Award for Entrepreneurship promotion.

She has supported youth entrepreneurship for over thirty years and, in 2017, her efforts were recognised with an OBE in the New Year’s Honours List. 

A year later, she was presented with an Alumni Lifetime Achievement Award by GCU for her outstanding contribution to entrepreneurship and young people.

She said: “I’m incredibly honoured and quite humbled to have received this award from GCU. I never thought when I came here in 1980 I’d be given something like this all these years later. 

“I grew up in Sighthill, just a couple of miles away, and the reason I chose to study here was because my family couldn’t afford the bus fare for me to travel anywhere else – I could walk to GCU.

“It seems ridiculous now but I know there are still students who struggle financially so I’d like to think that accepting this award it is on behalf of people who think college or university of further education isn’t for them – it’s for everybody.” 

In terms of advice, she says: “Trust your inner voice. Be yourself because everyone else is taken. You are unique so concentrate on your uniqueness.”

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