Sainsbury Management Fellows

Lord Sainsbury’s Annual Dinner Speech 2017

I am very pleased to be here to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Sainsbury Management Fellowship Scheme with you. Thank you for this opportunity to reflect on why I set up the Scheme, how it has measured up and my hopes for the future.

Assessing the success of the scheme has been easy to do because I have been doing a lot of thinking recently about my Foundation and how well it has done.

I set up the Gatsby Charitable Foundation in 1967, and this year, almost exactly fifty years after I set it up, the amount of money given to charity by the Foundation reached £1 billion.

I thought, therefore, that this was a good moment to review the performance of the Foundation, and see what lessons we could learn about how charitable giving can contribute to social progress. So I commissioned a book about the Foundation to be written by Georgina Ferry, and the production of the book has led me to do a lot of thinking about the work of the Foundation; and what has worked and what hasn’t.

As you probably know the work of the Foundation covers a wide range of areas where I believed it was possible to deliver social progress by adopting an innovative approach and taking risks, and I believe that the Sainsbury management Fellowship Scheme has been one of the Foundation’s greatest successes, both because the original innovative idea was a good one, and because the implementation, largely by Cathy Breeze, has been outstanding. Cathy joined the scheme in November 1995 and has done an outstanding job in running it, and I would like first of all to use this occasion to thank her for her determination and hard work which has made the scheme such a success.

When the scheme was set up 30 years ago, the idea was to increase the number of people in senior positions in industry who had engineering backgrounds. I had come to the firm view that companies need to be run by people who understood the technologies and the requirements of their customers. We funded a small number of the best young engineers to go abroad to get their MBAs. Tom Delay, who is with us tonight, was one of the first four young engineers. As Chief Executive of the Carbon Trust, Tom has grown his organisation to become a world leader in advising businesses, governments and the public sector on carbon emissions reduction and the development of low carbon technologies. The Carbon Trust has helped businesses cut over £5.5 billion from their energy bills and carbon emissions by over 60 million tonnes.

Tom is just one of 330 stories of how individual Sainsbury Management Fellows have helped to transform the UK and the world, across all economic sectors. You may have noticed the company banners dotted around the drinks reception. These are only a sample of over 275 new businesses founded by Sainsbury Management Fellows which continue to thrive.

40% of SMFs hold executive board roles and 10% are non-executive directors. Notably, these positions are spread across all public and private sectors.

In the private sector, SMFs are employed by a multitude of blue chip companies –Shell, IBM, BP, Vodaphone, Microsoft, Siemens, the list goes on.

In the public sector, SMFs employed in public welfare and healthcare are making a real difference:

Ean Lewin’s DrugWipe drug testing device is now used by all police forces in the UK and has resulted in 14,000 prosecutions in the past two years.

Nicola Winn is now Deputy Divisional Manager, Queen Square for University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. John Moore and Nick Sullivan have both started home healthcare companies.

In Education, Sainsbury Management Fellows are shaping the next generation of business leaders. Several Fellows are visiting professors of entrepreneurship and other business subjects – David Crosbie at Wharton, Julian Morley at Cass, Andy Phillipps at INSEAD and David Falzani at Nottingham University Business School.

Graham Hastie is Associate Dean of INSEAD and Andrea Buttle advises universities on how to improve their strategy and planning, business processes, IS and management accounting.

So after 30 years, I am very pleased with the contribution individual Sainsbury Management Fellows have made to the economy and society. But I have also been impressed with the contribution that the scheme has collectively made.

The Sainsbury Management Fellowship has developed into a wide-ranging dynamic organisation which demonstrates to young people that there are exciting and rewarding opportunities in engineering, and which does a brilliant job in helping young engineers take advantage of those opportunities.

I am delighted that Sainsbury Management Fellows continue to help with the selection and mentoring of the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Engineering Leaders Scholarship Award Winners and that you participated in the Royal Academy’s Executive Engineers’ Programme.

Sharing knowledge has been the cornerstone of the Fellowship’s legacy, helping young engineers to reach their potential. Over 265 Fellows have mentored over 1,500 engineers and engineering students and delivered training sessions at the annual training weekends at the Royal Academy of Engineering.

I am also extremely pleased that Sainsbury Management Fellows have volunteered to help out with the Enterprise Hub, the Royal Academy of Engineering’s exciting initiative to encourage business minded UK based engineers to start their own companies. Adam Bazire, Sam Cockerill, Piers Copham, Chris Martin, Hersh Shah, Richard Smith, Grant Wood and David Falzani are helping out with this.

I would also like to offer my congratulations to Sainsbury Management Fellow Michael Hughes, co-CEO of LoopUp, who was made an MBE in the New Year Honours List. This is in recognition of his services to British graduates in Silicon Valley and San Francisco through his work as Founder of the Silicon Valley Internship Programme SVIP gives new UK software engineering graduates the unique experience of working at a Silicon Valley start-up through a one-year internship, in the hope that this experience will bring a little of the Silicon Valley attitude back to the entrepreneurial community in the UK. Over 63 young engineers have completed the programme which has grown significantly since 2012 with over 500 applicants each year. I think this is an excellent programme which benefits everyone involved and ultimately brings significant commercial benefit back to the UK.

I am pleased that the Sainsbury Management Fellows Engineers in Business Competition has expanded to include over 400 students at Nottingham University this year. The competition challenges students to create a novel product concept that meets a real need in society and also to demonstrate the use of engineering skills in the creative process. The winning teams were given cash prizes and mentoring from Sainsbury Management Fellows.

All these activities demonstrate that there are exciting and rewarding jobs for young people in engineering, and it is initiatives such as these that will attract more young people into engineering, and enhance people’s view of it and the contribution it makes to wealth creation and the quality of people’s lives.

My hope for the future is that the Sainsbury Management Fellowship Scheme continues and that the important work that you do to inspire young engineers expands and attracts more young people. For this reason I am delighted that the fundraising programme has reached the £2.25 Million mark. This is excellent progress and it means that you believe in the scheme and share my ambitions for it. I am delighted that many SMFs have already “given back” to the scheme by giving a gift towards the endowment fund. I am very pleased that you are helping to extend the vision of the fellowship into the future. I would like to commend the efforts of the fundraising team, especially Chairman Simon Bonini and Deputy Chair Mike Gansser-Potts.

I hope you have an enjoyable evening. It is good to have so many invited guests and Fellows with us tonight to join in the 30th anniversary celebration. But remember this evening is only a milestone on a long journey, so please talk to your neighbours about what we can do together, to continue the success of the Sainsbury Management Fellows over the next year and in the years to come.

Lord Sainsbury’s Annual Dinner Speech 2017


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The Sainsbury Management Fellows is registered as a charity: Engineers in Business Fellowship, charity number 1147203 and is a company limited by guarantee : 07807250