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13 June 2004
Scotland on Sunday
A sense of confidence that breeds success stories

MARGARET Lang believes Scotland’s business climate has improved dramatically since 1994, although the country could do with a shot of ambition.

Lang returned to Scotland in 2000 to run Docuserve, a document management company in Edinburgh, after spending six years in England and the US.

She described 21st-century Scotland as "a great place to do business".

Among the improvements she has seen are better transport links and a growing sense of confidence linked to success stories.

"The range of choices is great. When I was here before, the choice for getting down south was British Airways or British Midland," she said.

"We have a facility near Bristol, and I can use a whole range of airlines to get there including easyJet and Flybe. It think it is very easy to run a business from Scotland now."

Lang has built Docuserve up from 20 to 80 staff over the past four years, and is looking to recruit four more graduates this month.

She said: "The key thing is the quality of the people. People in Scotland are very able in an understated kind of way.

"In London they are confident, but it is not always backed up by ability."

Lang said Scots in business had grown more confident over the past ten years, partly because of the example set by companies like the Royal Bank of Scotland, which has grown from being a provincial operator to the world’s fifth biggest bank in less than a decade.

"What RBS has achieved shows what can be done. It shows you should not be restricted in what you can do."

But Lang added that many Scots seemed to lack aspiration.

"In the US, everybody is aspirational and people celebrate success. People here are too critical and too quick to criticise when somebody does well.

"People in Scotland are very able and work hard - if you combined that with confidence you could create something really powerful."

Scottish companies tend to band together and help each other more than elsewhere, Lang said.

"When I came back, I was amazed by how helpful other businesses are.

"There is a real sense of working together."

Lang’s perception of Scotland as enjoying improved transport links is mirrored by the companies surveyed by George Street Research.

The second highest proportion - 12% - cited transport as one of the ways in which Scotland has improved over the past 10 years.

As well as new air routes, the country has benefited from the M74 link to England and new rail stations around Edinburgh.


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