Meet the MD: Ian Cass of The Forum of Private Business

Meet the MD: Ian Cass of The Forum of Private Business

Ian Cass left the corporate world to start his own business back in 1997 and has never looked back. He talked to BQ about the challenges he has faced in his career and his plans for the future of The Forum of Private Business.

Describe your role in no more than 100 words.

My role is a simple one; I am here to create the right environment to enable my team to do the best work they possibly can. This usually involves providing some direction, inspiration and to make sure I am removing as many blockages as possible, I am here to help simplify things.


What is it the company does?

Primarily our aim is to provide the Forum’s members with the best possible support, advice and protection that we can, we take the burden off their shoulders and deal with Red tape, regulation and compliance issues.  We also help our members to save time and money through partner products and services, we can help them to grow through access to training much of it free and we provide a voice where it counts in Westminster, expressing their views and concerns and providing proactive insight and guidance based on our conversations with government departments and agencies.


Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?

I started as a junior salesman with White Horse whisky and developed through the ranks of sales, sales management and marketing within what is now Diageo. The training and experience I gained there was an excellent foundation for my future career and the fact that the company was going through lots of changes helped to make me very adaptable to change, gave me strategies to deal with it, it led me to actually welcome change and to see it as a challenge, this is something that has served me well in my career to date. 

In 1997 I left the corporate life and started my own company, over the next 15 years I built 4 companies, two of which I am still the owner of, this led me to the Forum where I feel my background in Large corporate life and as a small business owner and operator gives me a real advantage in helping to build and develop the Forum.


What do you believe makes a great leader?

Passion and Belief in what you are doing, the ability to communicate that to others, to be able to help people to grow and develop themselves and the ability to laugh at yourself


What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?

Simplifying things, we had a very complicated proposition, complicated processes, a complicated structure, you name it we complicated it. It was a case of stripping things back to the important stuff and focussing on that. Then moving the team to action without the fear of making mistakes, when you do new things you are going to make mistakes, learn from them, laugh at them where appropriate and move on.


How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?

A little stress is a good thing, it helps to keep you on your toes, too much becomes distress and that’s where the problems start. So when things get on top of you walk away and do something else replace one stress with another different sort, the Gym, Gardening, helping your children with their homework, and don’t forget it’s only a game!


When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

My Dad


Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about then?

Negative people, I try to avoid them if I can


Where do you see the company in five years time?

To make sure the company provides the Forum’s members with the best possible support, advice and protection that we can and to be recognised by the Forum team, members, government and other business bodies as the organization that most credibly represents small employers


What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?

To make sure you learn something new every day, you have one mouth and two ears, use them in that proportion and don’t take yourself too seriously!