Dennis Overton, Aquascot (outgoing SfEO chair)

INDUSTRY leadership group Scotland for Employee Ownership (SfEO) has announced it is recruiting for a new chair for its board, working alongside existing joint chair Jamie Hepburn MSP, Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills.

The announcement comes as outgoing chair Dennis Overton, chair of the employee-owned Aquascot, prepares to step down from the role.  Dennis has been championing employee ownership for a number of years and was an integral and influential part of the steering group tasked with the formation of SfEO. 

SfEO, which was launched in 2018 by the First Minister and created using a £75,000 investment from the Scottish Government, is aiming to make Scotland the best country in the world for establishing and growing employee-owned businesses. 

Led by senior figures in the Scottish business world, including representatives from Scotland’s top employee-owned businesses, as well as key organisations from the public sector including the Scottish Government, Co-operative Development Scotland on behalf of Scottish Enterprise, and Highlands & Islands Enterprise, the group has created an industry strategy that supports the advancement of thriving, self-sustaining employee-owned businesses in Scotland to the benefit of all present and future employees, and the economy where these businesses operate.

Supported by a full-time SfEO Champion, in place to support strategy implementation, the group has a championing, influencing and facilitating role, with a focus on ‘catalysing’ rather than ‘doing’. 

The role of the chair will be to lead the group, driving forward its vision to develop Scotland’s employee ownership sector and enabling the group to deliver key strategic outputs.

Commenting, Dennis Overton said:  “Scotland for Employee Ownership is committed to building a stronger, larger and more confident employee ownership community in Scotland.  This is important as employee ownership drives engagement, productivity, long term thinking and innovation. Employee-owned businesses create diversity and resilience within the economy, as well as tending to be more productive than their non-employee-owned counterparts. It creates all kinds of opportunities for employees which would never arise otherwise and is one of the best prescriptions to tackle the inequality, inclusivity and productivity challenges facing the Scottish economy.

“I’ve had a fantastic spell as chair; it has created great opportunities for me to meet and work with a wide range of people from other Scottish employee-owned businesses and from the supportive public sector, many of whom I would have been unlikely to meet otherwise. 

“It is an exciting role for someone with knowledge of employee ownership and is an opportunity to affect change that will impact on Scotland for good.  It is a privileged role, working with remarkable people, and it is now time to pass the baton to someone new.”

The position is ideally suited to someone with strong leadership skills, experience of employee ownership and an ability to think strategically as well as analytically.

SfEO has an aspiration to see 500 Scottish employee-owned businesses by 2030.  To facilitate this aspiration, the Chair will oversee SfEO’s outputs, ensuring it retains its value as a strategic forum for the sector to assess, inform and drive activity with key stakeholders and partners. 

The chair will also work with the SfEO Champion to set the group’s agenda with a focus on strategy, performance, value creation and accountability attend and lead quarterly board meetings and manage a constructive and mutually beneficial relationship with key partners including the Scottish Government, Co-operative Development Scotland and The Employee Ownership Association. 

In addition, the chair will act as a spokesperson for SfEO, so the right candidate will have proven experience in stakeholder engagement, be comfortable communicating to a wide variety of audiences and understand how to work effectively with Government.