Calum Paterson & Baroness Mobarik

AlumniWhat makes our alumni of the year tick?

Strathclyde People 2017


Alumna of the Year

Baroness Nosheena Mobarik CBE

Baroness Nosheena Mobarik CBE was born in Pakistan but moved to Glasgow aged five. She is joint Chief Executive of M Computer Technologies and a former chair of the CBI Scotland.

She is founder and convenor of the Scotland Pakistan Network and a tireless campaigner for humanitarian causes and was recently appointed to represent Scotland as an MEP.

She graduated with a BA (Hons) in Economic and Social History from Strathclyde in 1991, and was named Alumna of the Year for 2017. 

  • What did you want to be when you were growing up?

Always an artist. I loved art at school, and I remember my teacher being very annoyed when I didn’t apply to go to art college.

  • What made you choose to study at Strathclyde?

I thought that Strathclyde would be a less formal and intimidating university. And that’s how it turned out. I always felt at home there – it was a relaxed and welcoming place to be.

  • Do you have a favourite memory of your time at university?

Apart from graduation day, I valued the friendships I made with history professors John Butt, Jim McMillan and Gordon Jackson. All sadly no longer with us, but gigantic personalities and authorities on their subject.

  • Looking back, what advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

It’s a cliché but I wish I’d told myself to be more confident. Don’t listen to the people who say you’re not good enough or not smart enough.

  • What do you consider your biggest achievement in business?

My husband and I started M Computer Technologies in 1987 and with a lot of incredibly hard work created a successful business. Surviving the economic downturn of recent years was probably the biggest achievement. We came out of it stronger, fitter and smarter.

  • What motivates you to lead in public service?

Honestly, I see it as my duty. Both my parents gave their time and energy (and money) to help others.

My mother ran a school at weekends to teach Urdu and Arabic – she believed it was important that Asian children in Glasgow retained their culture and religion. My father (Tufail Shaheen MBE) was a leading figure in the building of the Glasgow Central Mosque.

  • What problems in the world keep you awake at night?

Without a doubt, the political instability around the world today. There seems to be new flashpoints as we speak. The breakdown of law and order, poverty, environmental issues... it’s all so overwhelming.

  • If you were invited to speak at the United Nations, what would be the theme of your speech?

I’d call for greater understanding between nations, religions and cultures. We are THE human race, with so much technology and resources at our fingertips to make the world a great place for all.

  • Describe your perfect day off?

Easy. I’d get up early and head to the north of Scotland and go walking in the hills. I’d feel the fresh air, read a book and have a cup of tea. Then back home to cook a nice meal for friends and family. Plenty of chat, then watch an episode of Game of Thrones.

  • Do you have a favourite website?

I can get lost in websites featuring contemporary Scottish art. There are a lot of talented artists out there.

  • You’ve been described as one of Scotland’s 50 most influential women. Who inspires or influences you?

I’d have to say my parents but I’m also in awe of ordinary people who work so hard and selflessly to help others.

Alumnus of the Year

Calum Paterson

Calum Paterson is Managing Partner of Scottish Equity Partners and one of the UK’s leading venture capital professionals.

He has a BA (Hons) in Economics and Accounting and an MBA (both from Strathclyde), qualified as a CA with Ernst & Young, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. He was named Alumnus of the Year for 2017. 

  • What did you want to be when you were growing up?

When I first went to university, I had half an idea that I might go into teaching – a profession I still have great admiration for. At a much younger age, I seem to remember being enthusiastic about the marine commandos... probably something to do with having an Action Man.

  • Best memory of your time at university?

That’s a tough question. I have lots of happy memories. I enjoyed my studies, but I had some great times with my friends, and met lots of amazing people. The university judo club was a big focus for me too. I was club captain and also doubled up as coach for a while.

  • Can you sum up your job in 30 words?

I’m head of a private equity and venture capital firm, which manages funds for institutional investors. We invest in innovative, high-growth companies and try to help them be successful.

  • How did you earn your first pocket money?

I was always keen to work and earn my own money. I did a paper round for Wilson’s the newsagent in Linlithgow, which I really enjoyed. 

  • What is the best company you have invested in?

We’ve been fortunate to have invested in some exceptional businesses over the years, including three ‘unicorns’, with hopefully more to follow. We were the first and largest investor in Skyscanner, and were pleased to be able to help it on its journey to become one of the world’s leading online travel companies.

  • And one to watch?

We have 30 companies in our portfolio right now, so I think I should avoid upsetting 29 of them. Right now, the pace of technological change is faster than ever – affecting every aspect of how people live and work, and creating lots of business opportunities in areas such as Artificial Intelligence, healthcare and the Internet of Things.

  • What have you taken from your time studying at Strathclyde?

I am a proud Strathclyder and I feel lucky to have been at such an excellent university. It gave me a great education and helped to shape me more generally. I had some outstanding teachers and enjoyed studying economics as well as economic history (which I managed to squeeze in for a couple of years). A key skill I learned was how to think critically, which is important for whatever career path you choose, and for life more generally.

  • Do you have a favourite website?

I like FT.com and the BBC website, which can both be relied upon for accuracy and integrity. For travel purposes, I’d have to say Skyscanner, of course.

  • You were heavily involved with Skyscanner. Where would you fly to?

I’ve travelled to some very interesting places with my job, but I’d be happy to hop on a short flight and head for the north of Majorca. It’s only a couple of hours away, so if I left in the morning I could be there in time for lunch. Taking more holidays is one of my current objectives (but still work in progress!). 

  • Who inspires you?

Growing up, I had very hard working and supportive parents, who gave me the right start. Today, I’m inspired by people from many different walks of life, as well as by some of the entrepreneurs in the companies we invest in.