Investor, Non Executive Director
Martin McCourt was the CEO of Dyson for 15 years. As CEO, he devised and implemented a strategy that transformed the company from a single product, single market producer into one where 80% of the business came from over 60 markets around the world.
Martin McCourt is highly skilled in management, business development and strategy. He has worked in many managerial roles at many different businesses including Marcus Bohn Associates Ltd, Toshiba and Duracell.
McCourt has taken on various chairman roles at different companies such as Pure Electric, Glen Dimplex, Learning Curve Group, Lightfoot, Weber Inc and more. He was also a judge at Tiara Talent Tech Star Awards in 2020 which recognises and celebrates excellence in the recruitment and talent acquisition industry.
What are the global challenges for business leaders?
"There are always challenges it is just the nature of the challenges. Over the last few years we’ve had the global financial crash, Brexit to the pandemic and now the impact on fuel and energy costs and supply chains generally. We’ve had the havoc wreaked by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Business leaders, to various degrees, are coping with this. I know some businesses whose supply chains are crippled. There is no point these business leaders whingeing about that, their business has been impacted. There is difficulty getting the supply of specific items especially if they are electronics and when they do get them the costs are higher. They then have to put the costs of their goods up and consumers buy less. Good strong business leaders will find ways to get around this.
What is going to separate the successful businesses from the less successful ones? A lot of it is about the new ways businesses are working rather than the traditional operating approach. If you look at the new start-ups – the Facebook, Uber, Deliveroo, Dyson, Amazon, Apple and Tesla – 25 years ago if they existed, they barely existed. What they have done is reinvented their category. They have created disruption and a lot more of that is going to happen in the future. Even the larger corporations are having to think about that and what can we do to keep ourselves fresh and modern and have the real kind of connections with our consumers and with our employees to stop that warrior who is banging on our door."
What skills do graduates need?
"The skills graduates need has not changed much over the years. As graduates emerge clutching their degree it is important that they don’t just understand what they have been learning but have also made every effort to understand the world that they are entering. I don’t just mean what job they are going to do but how business and society work together.
I would advise to get involved with business and industry as much as possible and to read like crazy. Follow what is going on in domestic and international politics even if you are not that interested in it – stay alert."
What is the role of universities and Business Schools?
"The role of universities and Business Schools, apart from the obvious one, is to ensure that their students get the very best educational opportunity while they are at Aston. There is a responsibility and the responsibility to connect students with the real world.
They need to help students to understand what they need to do to succeed and boost their confidence and the knowledge they need. It can be a bit of a shock leaving learning joining the business world."
Why did you want to be a Visiting Professor?
"My role as a Visiting Professor is exciting for me. I am not lecturer and not serious academic, but I have spent over 45 years working in business and international business and have seen quite a lot of things in that time and I have learnt quite a lot of things. I have been recognised as a leader. What I can really do and what excites me about this role is to try to connect with as many of the students at as I can and help them to peer into the world of business."