AlumniBrian Smith

Course studied: BA Business Administration, 1976

Position at time of writing: Managing Director, Alvarez & Marsal in New York

Interesting fact: Brian has been a Director of the University of Strathclyde USA Foundation for the past 15 years and that’s given him great insight into the evolution of the University

Why did you choose Strathclyde?

Because I wanted to study engineering and because of a family connection – my grandfather taught at the Royal Technical College in the early 1940s.

Tell us about your background

I was born in Clarkston and then we moved to Hyndland. I went to Kelvinside Academy and then on to Strathclyde in 1972. After graduating, I joined Nationwide Building Society as a Management Trainee and moved to London. I enjoyed working in the financial sector, moved to American Express and worked all over Europe before moving to Switzerland then to New York to become head of Global Operations for American Express Bank.

In various roles at American Express and the Citibank, I managed organisations on a global basis, and travelled extensively for many years.

I am now a Partner and Managing Director at Alvarez and Marsal, a global management consulting firm.

I live in New Jersey, but have worked in NYC since we moved here in 1991. There’s always something to see and enjoy in NYC including great theatre, opera, museums and of course restaurants. We often go into the city at the weekend as there is always something to do.  

Do you have a highlight from your time at university?

I joined the Glasgow and Strathclyde University Officer Training Corps and became an officer in the Territorial Army in Glasgow while I was at University.

After my first year I decided that I would rather study business than engineering, and discovered that I liked engineering processes and organisations instead of technology, and to this day I still use many of the skills I learned in my organisation design, business law and administration classes.

What would you say are the best three things about Strathclyde?

I had the flexibility to change direction when it mattered, the great location in the centre of Glasgow and the wide experiences I had via the OTC.

What have you gained from your role and time in the USA Foundation? 

I’ve gained a lot of insight into how important it is to stay in touch with alumni, and the incredible generosity of our alumni who give back to the University. As a Director of the Foundation, I get to stay connected to Glasgow, and to help the University connect with alumni in the US. 

Why do you volunteer your time to run the NYC alumni group?

We have a small alumni group in the NY area and it’s been a great way of meeting people and participating in the wider Scottish community. 

What has been the most memorable moment from your career so far?

Being appointed the Chief Administrative Officer of American Express Bank in Switzerland, a role that enabled me to move into wider and broader general management roles over the subsequent years.