“It was 20 years ago today…”

Posted on September 22, 2015 by

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sgt-pepperCelebrating 20 years of The Urquhart Partnership.

“It was 20 years ago today…” as the Beatles famously sang.

I remember it exceptionally well…9am on 18th September 1995 when The Urquhart Partnership opened our doors for business at 8 North Silver Street for the first time.

We have had some truly amazing times, worked on some fantastic projects, with some brilliant people over the last 20 years.

I was asked last week by a colleague what the most memorable moment was, but there are far too many to choose one. So if you can excuse some self indulgent reminiscing…here are a few of our collective favourite memories of the last 20 years…..and some thank you messages.

Over the last 20 years we have had the privilege of delivering over £30m of HR, Development and Recruitment projects, in 17 different countries and 4 continents. With an eclectic mix of clients from “Fittie” to FTSE…

Some highlights include;

  • Delivering leadership and management development programmes for Apache in Cairo, Egypt…such an amazing opportunity for Julie McDonald to get paid to see the Pyramids…
  • Running Assessment and Development Centres in interesting locations and some very varied cultures; Kuala Lumpur, Helsinki, Stockholm, Paris and Villamoura to name but a few.
  • Graduate Development Programmes we ran for Imerys in conjunction with RGU, along with the numerous training workshops / away days that took us to Cornwall, Belgium, France, Holland, Sweden and Finland.
  • Charing a Geomec advisory board meeting in the most stunning hotel in Dubrovnik, Croatia
  • The Mentoring programmes we ran for DTi / DECC / INTSOK, that were delivered in Aberdeen, London, Stavanger, Oslo and Bergen.

Some highlights a bit closer to home include:

  • Winning the Northern Star Award for Best Small Business, Grampian Business Award for Best Employer and Best Awards Event category at the Scottish Events Awards.
  • Working on several occasions with the genius and gentleman that is Dr Meredith Belbin, of Belbin Team Roles fame – a truly personal honour to have dined at his home.
  • Supporting the Young Enterprise Grampian programme, helping transform a relatively low key lunchtime event into a high profile business dinner at The Marcliffe Hotel. We had the pleasure of working with some of the UK’s leading business people including Richard Reid, MD of Innocent Smoothies and 3 of the Dragons from Dragons Den. The most fulfilling part was the resulting increase in team participation from approximately 8 teams the year we took over, to almost 40 teams in our final year
  • Helping Grampian Police with their “enquiries”….rebranding their recruitment advertising and attracting 7000 attendees to a recruitment fair at the Music Hall.
  • Mentoring and supporting over 200 businesses through schemes such as Business Mentoring Scotland and the EPS programme – some have gone on achieve some amazing success locally, nationally and internationally.
  • Helping organise The UPprentice fundraising challenge for local cancer charity CLAN. The event saw 15 companies take part with £100 each and through a team based challenge, they turned the initial £1,500 capital into an incredible £135,000 in only six weeks!

We have also expanded and diversified our interests a little bit over the years…some recent highlights being;

  • Acquiring Deer Digital – saving the business from closure on the back seeing a tweet announcing their demise, to concluding a purchase just 28 days later…
  • Which led to an investment and Non Exec role with associated software company GatherContent…
  • Which also led to the acquisition of multi award winning, Brand, Marketing and Digital, Agency, Hampton Associates.

I could very easily go on as there are so many other wonderful memories….but best I close with some much deserved thank you messages…

Vic had Bob, Cannon had Ball, Eric had Ernie…..to my original UP co-founder Muir Urquhart – thank you for all your support and many, many laughs along the way. “You should have let it lie. But you did not let it lie…”. Welcome back…

Our very first employees – Kath Douglas and Sue Yolland – for taking the leap of faith with us way back at the start.

To other colleagues past – thanks for your individual contributions to the business, but mainly for ensuring we had some of the best Christmas parties ever!  Special mention to our in house entertainers; Margaret McGlumpher and Takya Puntsov…

To my extended family which are colleagues present. Thank you for your unwavering commitment to the cause,  your support and above all else, making the UP culture what it is. You literally are “the business”!

To Bob Buskie, formerly of EAE, for giving us our first ever consultancy project. Bob has staying power as he remains a client at Cromarty Port Authority after 20 years…

To my Sister, Director and in-house Chartered Psychologist, Julie McDonald for her finely tuned listening skills. If you run a business and don’t have an in-house Psychologist, you really must get one – I highly recommend it…

A myriad of suppliers past and present – thanks for your support along the way.

The many business mentors, confidantes and professional advisors – thanks for your words of wisdom – we have learned so much along the way. The words of an ex accountant still ring in my ears; “Campbell”, he said, “The most important thing you will ever need to know in business is that there are three types of people: those who can count and those who can’t…”. That’s why he became our ex Accountant…

To all our clients – quite simply a massive thank you for giving us your business over the years, from a one hour coaching session to an organisational restructure. Special mention to the HR and Recruitment team at Total, for giving us the chance back in 2002, when we picked up a small contract for “maybe 5 vacancies”. Still working with us 500+ vacancies later…

To Alison, Carol and Tom – thanks for being such an integral part of the journey along the way and for your continued friendship.

Sylvia Halkerston – for your excellent Non Exec advice and exquisite cHeRries Awards judging…

Neil Stevenson – who so very kindly reminded Muir and I just after we had left our secured employment and before starting that “something like 86% of businesses fail in the first year”. Thanks for the motivational advice and vote of confidence. Delighted to still be in the small % that made it…

To the people who have read our blog almost 50,000 times….I dedicated this 20th Anniversary blog to you….as without you, we would have wasted so much time typing for no good reason…

Finally, to my wife, Saint Helen of Hazlehead…thank for your patience, tolerance, understanding and cash. You quite literally, and metaphorically speaking, will have my eternal indebtedness.

In keeping with the Beatles theme, I’ll end with a couple thoughts that I think perfectly summarise the first 20 years in business;

A Day in the Life…(of UP)…

It’s been a hard days night, and I’ve been working like a dog….eight days a week….but I feel fine….as I get by with a little help from my friends…and I know we can work it out…as….all you need is love…of the job.

I wonder what the next 20 years have in store for us?

Every chance I’ll still be here…

When I’m 64….

Hello. Goodbye.

Campbell Urquhart

Group Managing Director

Definitely 20 years older….and I hope a little bit wiser…