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IoD Young Director of the Year winner: Stewart McNicholl

Published on: 4 Nov 2015

TotallyExec were pleased to sponsor the award for Young Director of the Year at the IoD’s annual Director of the Year awards. These annual awards celebrate Director Excellence across all sectors and industries.

This year’s winner was Stewart McNicholl, Managing Director and Owner of ASKAMS Compliance Services. We caught up with him to ask him how he felt about winning this award.

TE IoD Winner

(L to R: Machala Forster - Operations Director, Stewart McNicholl - Managing Director, Marie Thompson - Quality Director)


Can you give us a brief outline of your career so far?

I graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree at Huddersfield University in 1998, as part of the degree I completed an industrial placement with an asbestos consultancy as a lab and field analyst. Having worked my way through the ranks over a few years I was promoted in 2000 to the companies youngest operational manager responsible for the Scottish and North Eastern Regions of a large compliance company (National Britannia) where I really got the taste for business, sales, managing staff and client management. Late in 2006 the company was going through a buy out and I took the opportunity to have a go myself. The company started with just two of us in a dingy industrial unit. We obtained our key accreditations within 8 months that allowed us to operate a full range of asbestos testing and surveying services, from here the business has grown and grown, we now employ 55+ staff across 7 regional offices in the UK servicing a wide range of industry sectors from social housing to nuclear power helping them comply with asbestos regulations. Over the next 12 months we are diversifying our range to include other compliancy services including asbestos in soils for contaminated land assessment, legionella, fire and health and safety training.


What has been your greatest achievement in your career?

Winning the IoD Young Director of the Year Award 2015, its amazing to be recognized by my peers and some amazing people in the business community as someone who is getting it right in key areas.


What are some of the challenges you’ve faced and how have you overcome them?

In our industry the two main challenges are winning the work and resourcing it with a competent skilled work force, getting the perfect balance at just the right time is always a challenge. We are lucky enough to be large enough now to have been able to establish our own training academy for new trainees and apprentices to ensure we have a steady flow of new skilled staff into the ranks as well as create a business with progression for existing staff.


What skills do you need to be a successful MD?

To believe in yourself and your vision, don’t be afraid to make mistakes just make sure you learn from them. You need to be a good listener, have bags of enthusiasm, the ability to motivate staff in difficult situations, develop thick skin…oh and it helps if you know what you’re talking about!


What’s next for you in your career?

This is a really exciting year for the team at ASKAMS, we are launching a number of new products on our compliancy range to complement our core Asbestos compliancy services, including Asbestos in Soils for contaminated land, Legionella, Fire and Health and Safety training. Now that we are established as a national provider this will really allow us to better service our existing client base and attract new clients to our services. The exposure and networking opportunities that this award will afford us is really priceless.


How does it feel to win the IoD Young Director of the Year award?

Absolutely Amazing, it was a real buzz to be awarded the regional winner in the North East in February this year and was really chuffed to be short listed for the nationals so when they read my name out I was blown away! Having seen the shortlist for the category it is a real honor to win this and great to bring it back to the North East; such a vibrant business region at the moment. I couldn’t do what I do with out the support from my amazing wife Fritha, my co-directors Machala Forster (Operations Director) and Marie Thompson (Quality Director) and all the fantastic team at ASKAMS


What advice would you give to aspiring Directors?

Have a vision of what you want to achieve and make a plan, get your team to believe in that. Make mistakes and learn from them and most importantly never give up on your dream.