Degree: Honorary Graduate, Business Administration (2004)
Position at time of writing: Founder and Chairman of The Chardon Group
Tell us about your background
After my childhood in Barrhead, my first job was as an engineering apprentice at Weir Pumps, where I worked on the circulating pumps for the reactors of the first atomic submarine. Unfortunately, a motorcycle accident removed me from my studies, and overnight I became a junior night porter at Turnberry Hotel in Ayr. That is when my career in hotels diverged, heading to the hotel and leisure industry with British Transport Hotels. I was lucky to travel and work in Europe, and I have worked every department in a hotel.
Why did you choose Strathclyde?
Because of its worldwide technical reputation in Engineering, and also because Strathclyde took over the world-famous Scottish Hotel School!
Where are you now?
Having retired and handed the reigns of the family business over to my daughter Nicola, I am finding time to help charities by sitting on a couple of diverse boards, such as the Hampton by Hilton at Hamilton Racecourse, and serving as Chairman of West Coast Harley Davidson/Triumph franchise. I am also thoroughly enjoying mentoring a graduate student from Strathclyde who has now appointed me as Chairperson of Caribbean Goods. So, my retirement is populated and interesting, and I am always looking for new adventures.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
I would have to say being awarded a CBE by Queen Elizabeth II is the top highlight for me, and hard on its heels is my Doctorate from Strathclyde.
As one of Scotland's most successful hospitality entrepreneurs, what are some exciting developments in the industry to watch out for?
I would say ever fast changing technology, such as robots. As a successful entrepreneur, you have to be up to date and looking out for the changes in the pipeline which improve the customer experience and help your business be profitable.
Ambitions for the future
I want to drive a Bentley around France, especially Provence – having started my training in hotels in France, this would be the icing on the cake.