010 The Bath Perspective Ewan McConnell BSc in Business Administration 1981-1985 BBA graduate, Ewan McConnell shares insights into buying his own businesses and gives advice to others considering a similar path. ‘If you move on you should keep going.’ That is the philosophy of Ewan McConnell, a straight-talking Yorkshireman whose two engineering companies in the South Wales Valleys are riding out the recession through a combination of hard work and pre-planning. Ewan has kept going since he was an undergraduate student at Bath, sponsored by Shell. His placements with the global energy and petrochemicals company were formative experiences, giving him a diverse range of experience and exposure to real business tasks and he anticipated a well mapped-out future via their management development programme. Instead, he surprised himself by taking up the offer of a fast-track corporate graduate programme with Calor Gas and parent SHV. From there he moved on to become the youngest director of Yorkshire Electricity, followed by eight years at British Energy/ Hyder. Despite this strong corporate career, Ewan says: “I was always hankering to do my own thing. When I left University I was ready to conquer the world but I realised during the first 6-12 months in business that I still had a lot to learn and I am still learning every day. I looked around for my own business in the late ‘90s but the time was not right in terms of my own experience and in terms of the capital available.” Stepping off the corporate ladder The catalyst finally came in 2004 when he realised that his next move in the corporate world would involve being away from home five days a week. He says: “It was the quality of life cost that I didn’t want to bear, but I was also slightly jaundiced by the corporate world. I’d reached a point where most of my focus was managing the bureaucracy of business and external stakeholders instead of the customers and the people. I knew it was time to do something different.” He stepped off the corporate ladder in 2006 and spent 12 months conducting research into different businesses, whilst supporting himself doing interim work. Commenting on the move, Ewan says: “I knew I didn’t want to go back, but I wasn’t sure what I was going forward into.” Ewan knew that he didn’t want to get involved in venture capital funding (“I wanted as much personal control as practical”) ; he was looking for a slightly tired business with a good brand that he and his wife, Julie (pictured above), could push forward and put their stamp on, and importantly one that