Our International Development Manager discusses his role, Genoa Black and how he helps businesses grow – meet Allan Conry.

What is one of your favourite business success stories?

BrewDog, the Scottish multinational brewery and pub chain based in Ellon, has a particularly memorable story from very early in their growth phase.

They came in first place during a beer competition run by Tesco in 2008. The retailer subsequently wanted to stock BrewDog products in 500 of its stores whilst, at the time, the founders, James Watt and Martin Dickie, were still filling bottles by hand. The business clearly needed a huge cash injection to ramp up production quickly.

Going to their bank, they applied for a £150,000 business loan but were turned down because of past missed payments. They subsequently went next door to another bank claiming they had been offered an “amazing deal” next door and gave them the chance to beat it. They secured the loan and met the order from Tesco’s which supercharged the growth of the company which is now valued at around £1 billion. Incredible bravado from the founders which, crucially, is continually reflected in their products and marketing efforts.

Describe your role and how you help businesses grow.

The core focus of my role is to help businesses achieve their international ambitions. This could be through helping them launch products or services in overseas markets, better understand their international customers and competitors or to build their international proposition and brand profile.

From my experience, businesses who thoroughly plan their international expansion will develop better customer relationships which will lead to larger and more sustainable growth, as well as minimise the associated risks and costs. I help companies develop that actionable growth plan.

What aspect of your role do you enjoy the most?

A real standout is seeing companies achieve those ‘lightbulb’ moments where our insights have brought new perspectives, ideas or actions that have helped them realise their international ambitions. The variety of industries we get to work with is another enjoyable aspect of my role, as it allows me to be exposed to fresh perspectives on exporting and constantly learn.

Our team has been hand picked from a range of backgrounds, give us a brief timeline of your career so far?

I studied economics at university and worked in the investment banking industry directly after I graduated. However, at heart, I was more interested in development economics than finance, so I secured a role as an economist in the public sector that was focused on strategic economic and industry policy and research. I was eager to explore the fields of company growth and business development, so I then moved into a trade and investment role where I helped companies strategically plan, grow or refresh their international expansion plans.

What about working at Genoa Black do you find rewarding?

There is a real proactive and innovative culture at Genoa Black where all staff freely share their expertise and insights. This not only benefits the wider learning and development of all staff but also creates a great teamwork ethic. Working with such a supportive and vibrant team, who provide constructive challenges, ensures as individuals we continually grow whilst also achieving the best results for our clients, which is always rewarding.

What is something you learned last week that all businesses could benefit from?

At a training course I covered the processes involved in Public Relations, Social Media and Web Development, which I’ve had little working knowledge of. The sum of all the knowledge in the room really exemplified that learning from expert knowledge will really deliver the best outcome. Ultimately, being acutely aware of your own knowledge deficiencies, whilst leaning on others who are specialist in their field, will always deliver the most efficient result.

Connect with Allan Conry on LinkedIn.


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