AlumniAlan Semple

Course studied: BA Business Administration, 1979

Position at time of writing: Non-Executive Director of three public companies

Interesting fact: Alan’s wife, Lauren, was the daughter of his first Business Administration Lecturer, Professor Roy Wilkie.

Tell us about your background

I was born and raised in Milngavie, near Glasgow. I studied for a BA in Business Administration at Strathclyde from 1976 to 1979.

After graduating, I joined what is now known as KPMG and became a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS) in 1982. In November 1982, my wife, Lauren, and I left for Johannesburg, South Africa, where I worked for a firm we now know as Ernst & Young."

I returned to Scotland in 1985, and moved to Aberdeen where I joined Citibank, and in 1986 moved to Seaforth Maritime, an energy services business, going on to become the Finance Director in 1987. In 1989 I jointly led a management buyout of the company. We subsequently sold Seaforth a number of years later, and in 1994 I joined GRT Bus Group, a UK transportation business, as their CFO.   GRT listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1994, and, following a number of fairly large acquisitions, subsequently merged with another business to become what we now know of as FirstGroup.

In early 1996 I made the move to the US with John Wood Group PLC (“Wood Group”), the large energy services business which at the time was privately owned. I became Wood Group’s CFO in 2000, and the company was listed on the London Stock Exchange in 2002. As CFO, living in Texas made sense from the perspective that a large part of Wood Group’s business was in the US, but given we were UK listed it involved a large amount of travel to the UK and elsewhere. I retired from Wood Group in 2015.

Since 2015 I have served on several public companies' boards, both in the UK and the US. I currently serve on the board of three US public companies, where I am also the Audit Committee chair.  In addition, I am a Director on the board of the University of Strathclyde USA Foundation Board, and I'm on the board of Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center in Houston.

I still live in Houston, Texas where my three daughters and their families also live, and have a home in Colorado where the weather is a little cooler in the summer!

Why did you choose Strathclyde?

I chose Strathclyde because it was a great local university with an excellent reputation and provided a qualifying degree for the ICAS qualification.

Little did I know it at the time, but I was to go on to marry Lauren, the daughter of my first Business Administration Lecturer, Professor Roy Wilkie.

Best things about Strathclyde

  • Strathclyde is a highly regarded and successful University which is, arguably, punching well above its weight. This reflects the leadership of the University, the quality of the academic staff, and the accomplishments of its students
  • I believe that the success of Strathclyde reflects its sharp focus on the subjects it covers, being areas where the University can make a meaningful impact and can work alongside industry partners where this makes sense. These factors enhance its reputation, and by association the reputation of the degrees that alumni have, which in turn opens up great and exciting opportunities for the undergraduates and post-graduates
  • As a relocated Glaswegian, I must end with the University being located in Glasgow. The weather isn’t always the best (!) but the people more than make up for this.

Attending University is a tremendous experience. It provides an opportunity to meet, learn from, and become friends with a bright and diverse group of people, and so make every minute of it count."

What one piece of advice would you give to students?

When you graduate, look to maintain the relationship with Strathclyde – Strathclyde is one of the most dynamic universities around and should be a source of great pride for all graduates.