When characterizing the entrepreneur we wonder how much comes from birth and how much can be learnt

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Deputy Vice Chancellor, Professor Wilson, Professor Papagiannidis, Visiting Professors and other honoured guests. Thanks for the opportunity to say a few words of thanks on behalf of the family.
I would like to start by thanking Joanna Berry and all the team that work tirelessly to make sure that everything to do with the Goldman Professors is executed professionally and with care for every detail.
It is a privilege to again be in your company, and in particular the company of our Visiting Professors. As a group you prove that there is no one-size fits all when we talk about entrepreneurs and that innovation can come in the form of a new technology, but just as easily in the form of a new market.
When characterizing the entrepreneur we wonder how much comes from birth and how much can be learnt.

  • Risk management can be taught, but balancing the ambition to bring something new to the world and the fear of failure cannot.

  • The principles of marketing and branding can be learnt, but the ability to listen carefully to customers, understanding what they need and translating it into a product cannot.

  • Human resources management is a skill set that can be acquired through course work, but inspiring a team to achieve greater heights together than each individual alone cannot.

As practitioners who also understand the responsibility that comes with your success, you have, as individuals and as a group, the ability to bridge the gap between what can be learned and what can only be achieved through touch and experience. What you represent is no commodity, and whilst many try the entrepreneurial route to success, few achieve it. I am sure that my Dad would be very proud that his name is attached to such a great group of entrepreneurs.

And now I turn to the Business School and University. Firstly, I would like to thank Deputy Vice Chancellor Ritchie and Professor Wilson for their warm words. It is always a pleasure to come back to Newcastle and visit the Business School, especially knowing that whilst we are no longer physically present in the North East my Father’s name is carried forward by your efforts to drive the joint agendas of entrepreneurship and innovation, both inside the school and beyond into the community.
We remain in an incredibly unstable world, politically, economically, and also from a cultural and social point of view. New seems to become old that much quicker, and the values of experience and stability have been replaced by the need for speed, in almost every realm of our lives. There is cynicism in public life and limited confidence in our business and financial leadership to restore growth and the kind of economic environment that will allow prosperity to return to our vocabulary. Only last night the Prime Minister called for a cultural change in how society supports and lauds its entrepreneurs. This is not the first time he has made such a call, and so far as I can tell, beyond the call, I am not sure that there is a plan.
A few days ago, my brother and I had the great fortune to listen to a lecture given by the Emeritus Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks, who was visiting our community in Israel. I would like to share one insight with you, that might have some relevance to the position we all find ourselves in in 2013.
He noted that the Hebrew word for crisis (mashber) is also the word used for a mothering stool. He proposed that this dual meaning for the same word lies in the opportunity and optimism that can be found even in the height of any crisis. Of course most of us feel the darkness and anxiety, but there are always those few, that not only understand that from the crisis can grow opportunity, but they have the hands to take that opportunity and fashion it into reality.
It is on this backdrop of a prolonged feeling of crisis that your leadership, both as a school and University and perhaps uniquely through the collective efforts of the Goldman Professors, permanent and visiting is so important. You can show the way for others to see opportunity where most see crisis, giving them the inspiration and skills to set forth on that most unique path that is the entrepreneurial adventure.
Leadership is in short supply, not just in politics, but also in business. Through your actions you have the power to bring leadership to the region and encourage others to take responsibility, instead of waiting for someone else to carry the torch.
We wish you the greatest success in the future, and look forward to a long and successful partnership with the School, the University and all of you associated with the Goldman Professorships.
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