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Flashback to 1984: Catching up with Stewart Graham

Fri, 27 June 2014

In 1984, Stewart Graham won the first ever Shell LiveWIRE Award with his business, Gael Force Marine. We caught up with him to find out more about his entrepreneurial journey…
What can you remember about your involvement with Shell LiveWIRE?
I can remember that Shell LiveWIRE provided me, as an 18 year-old, with the focus for which I had to think through and present my business, which was a skill and discipline which was very useful. However the overwhelming benefit of our involvement was the incredible publicity which has actually lasted for many years, which I and my company have benefited from.

How have things changed for you since you won your Shell LiveWIRE award?
My company has gone on growing and developing and we currently have sales of around £15Million and employ over 150 people. 

               Stewart Graham
Stewart Graham receiving his award in 1984.
How have you had to adapt as an entrepreneur over the years?
As an entrepreneur I have had to adapt and develop real business and management skills. As the business got larger it was no longer enough to be just an entrepreneur – one must develop all the business skills that are required to convert your entrepreneurial ideas into viable business solutions.
What has been the biggest obstacle you have overcome in business?
I think the biggest obstacle I have had to overcome is the constraints on the growth of the business from the value of the market we started in and the ongoing challenge of building our market. On reflection, this demonstrates the critical nature of researching one’s market thoroughly before entering it.
What are your top three tips for a young entrepreneur who is about to set up in business?
  1. Thoroughly understand your market.
  2. Make a Business Plan – plan your work and work your plan!
  3. Ask a lot of questions, listen to a lot of answers, but follow your own instinct and relentlessly pursue your goals.  
Shell LiveWIRE UK has been running for over 30 years. If you have been involved with the programme at any point and would like to share your story, please contact Emily Carlson at


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