Ansar Ali, Managing Director of Caterham Cars Ltd, and the man who led development on the Caterham superlight R500, the car that was voted BBC TV's Top Gear Car of the Year 2008, outlined the secret of his success in the inaugural Leadership Lecture delivered at Heriot-Watt University recently.
In "Driving the Good Stuff" Ansar Ali explained why the Caterham 7, the original British sports car which began life as the Lotus 7, has endured for half a century and how it became Top Gear Car of the Year.
"It was an honour to be invited by Heriot-Watt University to speak to the innovators and entrepreneurs of the future. The demands of the 21st century necessitate a business of our size to be both nimble and flexible, so change is a constant for us. It has been a unique experience for me to lead Caterham, and I hope to show how, as a small but fiercely British company, we have been able to create cars that merge classic design with the very latest technology which can rival and beat some of the most expensive machines created by the world's biggest motor manufacturers."
The Principal and Vice Chancellor of Heriot-Watt University, Professor Steve Chapman, welcomed Ansar Ali to the campus and said that the leadership he had demonstrated in developing Caterham Cars was inspirational.
"The Caterham name is legendary in the motoring world and we are honoured that Ansar Ali has joined us as part of the University's prestigious Leadership Programme. The Leadership Programme aims to identify and support tomorrow's leaders in academic, business and civic life, and embed the promotion of leadership skills at every level of University activity."
As well as delivering the lecture, Ansar Ali spent time with students from Heriot-Watt, including the University's Formula 1 Students Team, who are building their own car. He also met with Scottish members of the Caterham Car Owner's Club, several of whom brought along their kit cars to the event.
Professor Douglas Greenhalgh, Head of the School of Engineering and Physical Sciences, outlined the importance of the Leadership Lecture as part of the Heriot-Watt University Leadership Programme.
"We have been fortunate to have had speakers from our high calibre Alumni at he Leadership Masterclasses in the past, including Dr Mel Young, the President of the Homeless World Cup. We were thrilled to welcome Ansar Ali, who is a key associate of ours, to Heriot-Watt. The Leadership Programme is hugely important to us, and allows students and staff the chance to listen and learn from some of the most senior figures in business and industry."