In the spotlight:

Name: Fiona Godsman

Location: Glasgow

Occupation: CEO, Scottish Institute for Enterprise

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

It’s about giving students the opportunity to develop a wide range of skills that they can take into their future careers, preparing them for uncertain futures. It’s not enough just to apply the technical or subject knowledge they acquire during their degree; they also need to understand how they can apply new ways of thinking.

How did you first become involved with enterprise education?

I was asked! I had been involved in the Scottish Life Sciences scene for many years, and had experience of start-ups from the business side. It seemed like a natural step to move into an area where I could help the next generation of entrepreneurs.

How has enterprise education changed over the years, and how does it benefit students today?

There’s less focus on starting a business (though that is rightly still an important element) and more about developing skills that will benefit students in any career they pursue.

The Scottish Institute for Enterprise – of which you are CEO – promotes and supports enterprise and entrepreneurship in Scotland’s universities. Tell us more about the services on offer and how they contribute to a student’s development?

We offer support for a range of student journeys towards both enterprising and innovative employment, and entrepreneurship. Through competitions, curriculum workshops and award programmes, we actively encourage the processes of ideation, innovation and testing ideas, and provide students with start-up ideas and access to business support that is consistent with the methodologies used by the most innovative global businesses.

young entrepreneurs in action

Young entrepreneurs in action

You were a finalist in the BQ Female Business Leader of the Year awards 2016, in recognition of your commitment to supporting and inspiring young women to succeed. When it comes to enterprise education, is there a gender gap – and, if yes, what can be done to close this?

Yes, but it’s getting better. We need to ensure that we always treat women and men equally, which can often mean making sure that women’s voices are heard by actively seeking out women – e.g. to profile as entrepreneurial role models, or invite to judge or to speak at events.

There’s an age-old debate about whether entrepreneurs are born or made. Can you weigh into this?

It’s both. Some people are natural entrepreneurs, are always going to pursue their own ideas, and won’t be put off by any setbacks. Many more, however – who may not have initially thought they could start their own business – can and will become entrepreneurs if provided with inspiration, encouragement and support.

For students who don’t want to be entrepreneurs, what other benefits does enterprise education provide?

It helps them to develop attributes that are in great demand by employers, such as the ability to innovate to solve problems and find new ways of doing things; to collaborate and communicate well; and to demonstrate perseverance. It also opens their minds to new career pathways that they may not have considered before. 

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

I hope to see it being delivered much more within the curriculum, with a strong focus on its relevance to the degree subjects being taught and the career opportunities it can open up. 

What does a typical day look like in the world of Fiona Godsman?

My days are very varied, but the common thread is communication. I spend a lot of time on emails and writing reports, but I also get to meet some fantastic people dedicated to supporting enterprise education, including university principals, passionate educators, politicians and successful business people. The best moments, however, are when I get to meet talented, innovative and enthusiastic students.

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

A dog. I’m intensely loyal, and enthusiastic about food and walks!