Stewart McNicholl, managing director and owner, ASKAMS Compliance Services

Stewart McNicholl, managing director and owner, ASKAMS Compliance Services

Over the Christmas and New Year period, Director is profiling the winners of the IoD Director of The Year Awards. Today we meet Stewart McNicholl, managing director and owner, ASKAMS Compliance Services, who won the Young Director award

Stewart McNicholl, ASKAMS

Staff engagement and a series of commendable corporate social responsibility initiatives – from training programmes to sponsorships, community programmes and carbon offset initiatives – are among the factors that earned Stewart McNicholl his Young Director of the Year award. He has also, over the last two years, doubled the company’s turnover, opened four further regional offices and sustained 35-40 per cent annual growth. So what makes him tick?

What inspires you as a businessman? I’m from Northern Ireland, which is full of entrepreneurs – so it’s second nature for us. I was exposed to [entrepreneurialism] from an early age.

What’s the best business advice you’ve ever been given? Stop trying to make everyone happy.

What’s been your biggest challenge to date? Managing cashflow at the start of the business, consistently working hard, carrying out such a large percentage of the work myself and investing money back into the business.

What’s the key to great leadership? Listen, watch, measure, learn, improve… and repeat.

Where do you get your ideas from? Lots of different places – business ideas are everywhere, you just need to look for them: be open and listen. Amazing customer service in restaurants or hotels is one example.

How do you relax? I have a young family and a brilliant wife, and we have great weekends away at our caravan on the Northumberland coast. Now business is doing well, we can afford to spend time travelling round France in our camper van every couple of years.

How and where do you network? I pick up the phone and go and have a cup of tea or coffee face-to-face – I’m pretty old school.

What’s the best business book you have read? The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E Gerber. It’s got some odd bits, but it really turned a light on for me.

ASKAMS vital stats

Business ASKAMS Compliance Services is an accredited asbestos compliance consultancy

HQ Cramlington, Northumberland

Staff 55

Initial funding The enterprise was self-funded: “I survived on credit cards, a remortgage and vegetables from my allotment,” says McNicholl.

Regional growth Founded by McNicholl in 2006, ASKAMS has offices in Cramlington, Edinburgh, Warrington, Leeds, Bristol, Caerphilly and Redruth. The firm rebranded in 2015 from AMS Asbestos Management Services.

Financial highlights Annual turnover has risen by between 40 and 45 per cent year on year while maintaining consistent profit margins throughout.

Stewart McNicholl is a member of IoD North East

What the sponsor said…

TotallyExec strongly believes in the importance of supporting and championing the leaders of the future so we are delighted to present the Young Director of the Year award and would like to extend our congratulations to Stewart McNicholl on winning this category.

TotallyExec powers the dedicated IoD jobs site, providing executive candidates with instant access to the latest director-level opportunities and IoD members with an exclusive 50 per cent discount on recruitment advertising rates (so advertising a job vacancy costs from just £275).

About author

Alexander Parker

Alexander Parker

Alexander Parker is a freelance writer and filmmaker.

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