Name: Anne MacDonald
Company: Events Ecosse
Location: Glasgow, UK
Former television executive Anne MacDonald spent part of her early globe-trotting career mixing with the Oscar-winning superstars of Hollywood. Now she has picked up her own special “Oscar”.
Little more than a year after setting up Events Ecosse she beat off competition from 34 other nominees to be named Start-Up Business of the Year in the recent East Dunbartonshire Council business awards. Why did she think her dynamic young company had come out on top? “Well I hope it wasn’t because I was the only woman up for the award,” she jokes before adding: “We have a very successful first year behind us and I believe the award was for the hard work and commitment we give all our clients. It was a great honour to win the title and it’s wonderful to get this validation from your peers. I felt very proud to have our work recognised in this way.”
Managing director Anne and her dedicated team at Events Ecosse are experts at organising events of all kinds for corporate, public sector and private clients. The company’s range of projects is impressively diverse. Conferences, product launches, road shows, team building, sporting events, gala dinners and civic receptions are all part of the wide-ranging service. Whether it is the detailed planning of a private house party for VIPs in Argyll or the commissioning of a giant model of the Forth Road Bridge in Lego as part of the iconic landmark’s 50th birthday celebrations in August, all tasks are accomplished with the same enthusiasm, creativity, professionalism and individuality.
“I’d never propose an off-the-shelf package,” she says. “Every event we organise is tailor-made to suit our client’s detailed requirements. We bring hard work, integrity and an eye for detail to every project and always strive for perfection. Anything less isn’t acceptable.”
Although based in Scotland at their Bearsden headquarters, Events Ecosse operates on a broader geographical map. “We’re geared up to handle projects that are regional, national or international,” Anne confirms.
After a childhood spent on the beautiful Hebridean island of Barra, Anne had a successful career in the broadcast media working with STV for nine years before moving to the BBC working as a production executive for 11 years. She travelled constantly and was in day-to-day charge of budgets of up to £24 million and supervised teams making programmes around the world including Africa, Asia and the United States. Among her career highlights was organising the BBC’s Oscar-night coverage, running around Los Angeles with Jonathan Ross and rubbing shoulders with Tinsel Town’s A-listers.
Anne took a professional break when, in 2007, she and her husband Archie became the proud parents of twins Sara and Angus. As the children got older she started to organise events on a freelance basis before setting up Events Ecosse in February 2013. Rather than finding parenthood and a full-time job too much to cope with she finds the dual roles stimulating and exhilarating. “I’ve always been at my best when I’ve pushed myself, juggling lots of things at once. I like to be busy. That’s when I’m in my element and at my most effective.”
Anne, who combines friendliness with efficiency, gives credit for her impressive work ethic to her mother Margaret, a schoolteacher and playwright, who was widowed at an early age. “She has always been my role model,” says Anne. “She remains a huge influence. She worked hard every day to look after me and my two siblings. I look back and see how fortunate I was to have her scrupulous values and principles instilled in me.”
Although a young company, Events Ecosse, guided by Anne’s expertise, hit the ground running and has rapidly built up a track record for success as numerous testimonials from delighted clients attest. Leading clients include the Forth Estuary Transport Authority which is responsible for the Forth Road Bridge, the Peter Vardy Group which hold prestigious car franchises, and major oil and gas players such as Cenkos Natural Resources and Energy and Smart Metering Systems. The company also has a client list that, as a matter of policy, is kept under wraps. “Discretion is very important in this business,” Anne reveals. “Clients have to know they can trust us absolutely. Many things I’ll take with me to the grave. Some people wonder why we don’t have a Facebook page. The reason is simple – we respect our clients’ confidences and their right to complete privacy.”
Her job continues to take her to high profile events at home and abroad including the famous Le Mans car rally. “People think it’s very glamorous but the hours are long because we have to get every detail right. I’m there working to make sure other people have a great time.”
Anne has not cut her links with the Highlands. She and her husband have renovated a derelict coach house in scenic Strathconon Glen, north of Inverness. It is now available for rent and as a testament to the couple’s flair and application it is already listed among Scotland’s top 100 self-catering venues.
In the rare moment she has for relaxation Anne enjoys playing golf, a sport she has adopted with characteristic commitment. There is no doubt that whether at work or at play this is a business woman who is very much on the ball.