Name: Eleanor Shaw

Location: Strathclyde

Occupation: At Strathclyde Business School: Vice Dean, Enterprise & Knowledge Exchange; Head, Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship; Acting Head, Department of Strategy & Organisation

You are an influential individual within the enterprise/entrepreneurship education space. What does ‘enterprise education’ mean to you, and why do you think it’s important?

‘Enterprise Education’ is about supporting and encouraging students at all levels to develop growth mindsets. This, in turn, enables them to be able to spot and respond to entrepreneurial opportunities in a manner that can benefit themselves and society. At Strathclyde, we concentrate on developing students’ growth mindsets and equipping them with the skills, experiences and confidence to behave entrepreneurially. We aim to provide our students with useful learning to ensure that when they are ready for the world of work they are able to make a distinct and positive contribution in whatever they choose to do: create and grow their own business, lead an entrepreneurial organisation, contribute to political life, develop a social enterprise or, indeed, go into education.

How did you first become involved with enterprise education?

If I trace this back, I probably first became involved when I was a student myself at secondary school. I was lucky enough to benefit from teachers who encouraged a growth mindset, which instilled in me an open approach to learning and an interest in finding creative solutions to problems. Building on this, as a student I had a number of jobs with entrepreneurial firms where I was inspired by the business founders and wanted to learn more. Those early experiences influenced what I wanted to study, and throughout my PhD research I worked with entrepreneurial firms across Scotland’s vibrant creative industries. I learnt a lot about creativity and innovation from those firms, and was motivated to translate what I had learnt into education programmes for university students – that was my journey into enterprise education!

You have commented that ‘ambition, boldness and innovation’ are qualities essential to entrepreneurship. What other qualities do you see as vital to a young entrepreneur’s progress, and how can enterprise education nurture and support their development?

Yes, those qualities are important and they are instilled by a creative mindset. Also important to a young entrepreneur’s progress is the need to ensure they collaborate with others; and so – naturally – being people-orientated can help. Particularly for young entrepreneurs who can be very focused on establishing and growing their business, it’s important that we help keep them outward focused, engaging with others, learning from the market, and keeping an eye on the competition. We achieve this at Strathclyde by connecting students with one another and, importantly, with other organisations across Scotland’s entrepreneurial ecosystem (which can also help them develop strong, sustainable enterprises).

Can enterprise be included at all stages of education, and within every subject? If yes, how? If no, why not?

Absolutely! Scotland has all the building blocks needed. In schools, Curriculum for Excellence helps develop growth mindsets and a multidisciplinary approach to education that encourages creative problem solving and innovation. In addition, programmes like Young Enterprise Scotland help encourage students to experience enterprise by supporting them to set up their own enterprises. Once at university, students can benefit from programmes like our BA Business Enterprise as well as all of the advice and practical support offered by our Enterprise Hub, which has a staged programme to support students through the start-up phase and beyond. Of course, we can always do better – and I think if we can help these different stages of education be even better connected, then we can have an even greater impact on the enterprising behaviours and attitudes of our students at all levels of education.

Strathclyde Business School has been recognised in this year’s AACSB’s Entrepreneurial Spotlight Challenge – and you were listed as one of the 100 leading professors in the field of entrepreneurship by the Hot Topics community. Congratulations! Please tell us a little more about these fantastic achievements.

Strathclyde has a long history of providing enterprise education dating back almost 30 years. As an institution, we have learnt a lot about what works, what is effective and how to provide students with enterprise education which provides them with the skills, knowledge and experiences needed for them to enter the workplace ready to make positive contributions – either through business ownership or through working for entrepreneurial organisations. This experience and the successes we have had in supporting student enterprises – and, through our Growth Advantage Programme, the growth of Scottish organisations – have been recognised through these and other awards. To be named as one of the 100 professors in my field was an honour – I know who these peers are and to be named as one of them was both a surprise and delight.

Where do you hope to see enterprise education in five years’ time?

I’d like to see enterprise education being even more joined up, and I’d like to see even more students across all disciplines getting involved in entrepreneurial experiences and activities. Hackathons, for example, provide a great way of doing this. I think if we can find more ways of bringing students together from across different disciplines – to work on identifying creative solutions for some of the most challenging global problems we currently face – then they and the world will be a happier, more prosperous place.

What does a typical day look like in the world of Eleanor Shaw?

I get up early, make myself a cup of tea, make breakfast for the kids and take the dog out. I come back, have a quick read through my emails and respond to any urgent ones. I go to the gym for a quick session (either Grit or Express), and then I head into the university to meet with students and colleagues. As Vice Dean with responsibility for Enterprise and External Engagement, a lot of my time is spent meeting with business owners and entrepreneurial organisations, discussing how Strathclyde can help them achieve their organisational goals. In particular, through our Growth Advantage Programme, I work with the founders of growing Scottish enterprises, helping them further develop and grow their organisations. This is probably one of the most enjoyable parts of my working day – I always learn a lot from these entrepreneurs and it is a joy to see their enterprises grow and prosper. Once I get home I spend the evening with my family, helping my kids with their homework, taking our dog for a walk and cooking – my favourite way to spend my down time.

And finally, Eleanor, tell us: if you were an animal, what would you be and why?

We have a gorgeous cockapoo called Archie. If I could choose to be animal, I’d choose to be a cockapoo so that I could talk to Archie and communicate with him in his own language. I also think we’d have a lot of fun.