A prominent entrepreneur, adventurer and speaker who led the iconic Porsche, Lamborghini and BMW brands has praised Ron Dearing UTC students for their interest and enthusiasm.
Kevin Gaskell was recognised as one of the UK’s top 40 leaders after driving the turnaround at industry giants Porsche and leading five years of record growth at BMW.
He left to set up his first internationally successful technology business and has subsequently built or transformed 15 companies, now acting as chairman to a number of growing businesses.
Kevin visited Ron Dearing UTC to meet students in all year groups to speak about his journey to the top and share his latest venture. Smarter Britain is an organisation he established with his son, Matt, which aims to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs and provide practical advice about how to start a successful business.
It follows a similar approach to an organisation Kevin was involved with in South Africa which helped to create more than 3,000 new businesses. The target for Smarter Britain is to build 1,000 new businesses in 1,000 days in Britain.
As well as being hugely successful in the business world, Kevin and Matt are keen adventurers, having completed walks to both the North and South Poles and climbed some of the world’s highest mountains to raise money for cancer research.
They were also part of the five-person crew that recently set a new world record for the fastest ever row across the Atlantic Ocean, which they completed to raise funds to fight plastics in the oceans.
Kevin said: “I speak in a lot of schools and Ron Dearing UTC was a luxury. The students were great, interested, enthusiastic and asked intelligent questions, and everything was so organised.
“The team that Principal, Sarah Pashley, has around her is extraordinary compared with any school I’ve ever been in before. The focus is on actually delivering results and results don’t necessarily mean 10 A* grades at GCSE, but giving students the tools to be successful in whatever that means for them.
“Since the talk, via the teachers, I’ve had emails from students following up and asking for advice, which I will do my best to help them with – even some of the students’ siblings want to get involved in Smarter Britain.
“This includes involving young people with an interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). I wanted to plant the seed with the students that you can achieve whatever you want to achieve in this world if you’re prepared to work hard.
“I grew up in a two up, two down in Macclesfield and I want to take down the barriers that people normally put there for themselves.”
During Kevin’s career, his teams have created more than three billion pounds of shareholder value and his companies have won numerous awards. He has also played international cricket and now enjoys playing in a rock band to relax.
Ron Dearing UTC Principal Sarah Pashley said: “We’re delighted Kevin took the time to come and speak to our students. They were truly inspired and took a great deal of knowledge and information away with them.
“It’s incredibly important to us that we give our students the best possible opportunities in every area of learning and development, broadening their horizons outside the classroom as well as in school.
“Leaders of Kevin’s calibre show exactly what can be achieved with high aspirations, hard work and determination. He has set a fantastic example for our students.”
Year 12 students Mercy McFarland and Jess MacLachlan, both 16, are part of Ron Dearing UTC’s F1 in Schools Challenge team, a global educational programme that raises awareness of STEM and Formula 1 among students and school children in every region, country and continent.
Jess said: “Kevin told us to have three main points in mind when speaking to an audience and to expand on each one.
“He told us he didn’t think he would do very well in his A-levels but went on to do really well. He worked hard to prove people wrong. It made me realise you can do anything you put your mind to, regardless of what anyone tells you. You can prove people wrong.
“It’s really exciting to have opportunities to meet people like Kevin. Every time someone comes to speak to us in school, they all say different things but they all give the same message – you can do it if you have the drive and determination. It’s really inspiring.”
Mercy said: “Kevin gave us tips and tricks on marketing and how to present yourself when talking to an audience. He was really interesting to talk to and came from a similar background to me.
“I was impressed when he told us how determined he is, how he never gives up and how he has become really successful.”