Lynne's advice on starting a business:
"Starting your own company is a rollercoaster journey of the most amazing highs and lows…but it’s also an incredible feeling to be in charge of your own destiny. You will meet people you never thought you would meet, go places you never thought you could go to and learn and grow every single day. Start small and stay lean – starting a small side-hustle is a great way to test out if running your own business is right for you"
Developing skills at Edinburgh Napier University
In 1990, Lynne Cadenhead became the first person in her family to graduate from university when she acquired a BSc in Life Sciences at Edinburgh Napier University. She studied part-time, working at a scientific research institute in Dundee when not at university. The flexibility suited Lynne, and she was able to put what she learnt at university into practice in the laboratory.
She received the Edinburgh Napier Award of Merit after gaining the top marks in her class. This aptitude for hard work was exemplified as, alongside study and lab work, Lynne also worked at a local radio station. Not familiar with the industry, she utilised the knowledge that existed within her network and regularly convened with a journalism lecturer at the University to learn more.
This willingness to branch into the unknown has led Lynne to great success throughout her career.
Lynne explains the advantages to having a varied career
“Because I have had such a varied career, working in so many different sectors and sizes of companies and with so many different hats on, I bring a fairly unique perspective to business and can see things from all sides of the equation. That ability to quickly put myself in other people’s shoes has helped me overcome many a problem in business. Some people have a clear vision of what they want to do workwise, many don’t. And to those who don’t, I would say do not worry about it, you will find your own path. Go where and when with what inspires and excites you and your passion will shine through.”
Adding strings to her bow
Lynne’s career has been varied, to say the least.
After graduating, she remained in life sciences but moved away from research and into the business side of things, namely sales and marketing in the pharmaceutical industry. Lynne then returned to education and completed an MBA which helped her climb the corporate ladder quickly. She travelled the world commercialising university life sciences research before turning her hand to venture capitalism where she invested in early-stage tech companies to support their growth.
With this sort of experience, it’s no wonder Lynne was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug. Over the past 15 years she founded companies in an assortment of sectors. These companies include:
- Quest Games, an innovative board game that draws on a thousand years of Scottish history. It has been played by over 1 million people since its launch in 2004!
- Immaculate Drinks, her newest venture, is an alcohol-free product, whereby 50% of the annual profits will go to help other women in business.
She has also served on over 30 boards, including as the first Chair of Touch Bionics, the world-leading upper limb prosthetics company which sold for £27.5million in 2016.
In September 2020, she won the Institute of Directors Scotland's Director of the Year Award for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.
We told you her cv was diverse!
Supporting women in business
With a successful career in the traditionally male-dominated fields of STEM and finance, Lynne has seen first-hand the ways in which women can be held back and stopped from realising their career aspirations. She is passionate about closing the gender gap in enterprise and is involved in numerous initiatives which support women overcome the many barriers they face when starting and growing a business.
Lynne has been Chair of Women’s Enterprise Scotland (WES) since 2014. WES is a not-for-profit community interest group which champions women-led and women-owned businesses. The organisation recently launched Women’s Business Centre which helps women shape their business ideas and launch and grow their businesses.
Lynne Cadenhead has faced numerous challenges and setbacks throughout her career. She’s committed to using her experience and expertise to support women along their enterprise journey.
Lynne's final piece of advice
“Always, always, always ask for help. The vast majority of people are only too willing to help others out, but if you don’t ask, you don’t get. Many see asking for help as a sign of vulnerability, but it’s not, it’s a sign of confidence – you are confident enough to reach out and get the support that you need, when you need it, to drive your career or business forward. Ask for help.”