Course studied: BSc (Hons) Computer Science & Microprocessor Systems, 1985
Position at time of writing: Chief Technology Officer, WorldPay
Interesting fact: Paul was given the opportunity to work in Silicon Valley at the height of the first dot-com boom
Tell us about your background
I was born and raised in Glasgow, attending St Gerard’s secondary for a year and then Lourdes secondary when I moved to Cardonald. As you did in those days, I left school after fifth year with five highers. Looking back, I received the best career advice possible from my higher maths teacher, Mr Miller, who directed me and my three pals to consider studying Electronics and Computing … an industry very much in its infancy.
After graduating, I worked for short spells at Barr & Strouds (now Thales) and Philipps, working on real-time embedded software. These were great entry level jobs. I then spent nine years at British Telecoms Software Engineering centre in Glasgow. BT were a great engineering company to work for and it was only because of an opportunity to work in Silicon Valley, that I left. It was 1997 and the height of the (first) dot-com boom; an amazing time to be there and an amazing learning experience."
Working abroad, even for a short time, really helps broaden your horizons and your thinking, and the opportunities available during that time were extraordinary. It was then that I started to appreciate the power of technology to transform whole industries and the way we live, but it needs to be combined with individual drive and leadership to make these changes happen.
Back in Glasgow, I joined JPMorgan in 2001 to lead their new European Technology Centre. I was with JPMorgan for a very happy 14 years, again only moving to take on a new challenge. For the last four plus years I have been UK CTO for Worldpay, working in a very dynamic and fast moving payments industry, where technology is truly driving the change in how we pay for goods and services.
Why did you choose Strathclyde?
It was really just the start of the computer age, and Strathclyde offered a course which was 50% Computer Science and 50% Electronics – this appealed to me, as I was looking for something very practically oriented. The degree course in Computer Science and Microprocessor Systems (CSMS) looked like a perfect fit. Three of my school pals also took the same degree course and we joined an intake of only 30 in 1981.
Do you have a highlight from your time at university?
Meeting two lifelong friends, Stevie Keith and Peter Burke, who also studied Computer Science & Microprocessor Systems.
What has been your most memorable moment from your career so far?
There’s something very satisfying about seeing software you have designed and written, actually go into production and do what it was designed to do. I had many opportunities to do this early in my career. My time at JPMorgan, helping to grow that into a global technology centre is something I am very proud of, and making a positive contribution to the city which nurtured me.
What are your ambitions for the future?
After 35 years in the industry, I am still driven and open to new challenges. I have no specific ambitions, but you never know what’s around the corner.