Business support initiative The Alternative Board hails growth in Scotland

The Alternative Board (TAB), a peer-to-peer advisory and networking platform for business leaders, is cheering its rapid expansion in Scotland, where it has grown by 80 per cent in the past nine months alone.

TAB states that the combined turnover of participating companies north of the Border, where it launched in 2017, is more than £150 million.

It has grown from six to 11 boards in Scotland, comprising five in the north-east, three in Glasgow and three in the Edinburgh area, spanning a broad range of sectors including energy, engineering, finance, manufacturing, health, software, transport, retail and marketing.

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The expansion comes after the organisation earlier this year flagged that it was broadening its reach in Scotland, including its launch to the west of Edinburgh.

Andrew Todd, former senior vice-president at Wood Mackenzie, now a facilitator at Edinburgh TAB. Picture: contributed.Andrew Todd, former senior vice-president at Wood Mackenzie, now a facilitator at Edinburgh TAB. Picture: contributed.
Andrew Todd, former senior vice-president at Wood Mackenzie, now a facilitator at Edinburgh TAB. Picture: contributed.

Each board comprises up to eight business-owners, directors or decision-makers at companies, and provides a “trusted space for experienced entrepreneurs to share experience and knowledge”.

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The initiative says it helps business-owners and leaders to see new opportunities and achieve strategic goals, with a programme that includes peer advisory boards, one-to-one business coaching, workshops, expert speakers, strategic business tools and “invaluable” TAB connections.

Its boards meet monthly with support from a facilitator, and Scottish digital marketing agency Moment says a 400 per cent uplift in turnover is a direct result of being a member, for example.

The local TAB in the Aberdeen area is led by Helen Mill and Chris Rigby, who both previously held senior roles at Robert Gordon University, and Jonathan Smith, a former executive with a global energy firm and a winner of the Inspirational Mentor of the Year at the 2019 Elevator Awards.

Andrew Todd, formerly a senior vice-president at energy research and consultancy firm Wood Mackenzie, is responsible for the two boards in Edinburgh. “The pandemic has put an incredible amount of pressure on the shoulders of business leaders and I’m aiming to work with them to find solutions,” he has said of his work with TAB.

Steve Cook, former head of retail operations for west Europe at HMD Global, leads Edinburgh West, while Campbell Ure heads up the three boards in the Glasgow area, harnessing his track record of developing and leading teams.


Helen Mill, facilitator and business coach at TAB in Scotland, said: “The value of TAB and the peer-to-peer engagement where business leaders advise and support each other has been welcomed by company-owners and executives.

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“Sharing ideas and talking about experiences is a modern approach to solving business issues and implementing solutions. We’re delighted with the growth.”

The venture started more than 30 years ago in the United States and there are now TAB boards across 20 countries.

Ed Reid and Mags Fuller took over TAB in the UK in 2017, after it was launched in 2009 and grown by its previous owners Paul Dickinson and Jo Clarkson.

TAB in the UK has seen a 42 per cent year-on-year increase in revenue to the end of May 2021, with 455 members on 70 boards altogether. TAB in Scotland is holding a free virtual taster session on October 14.

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