Tell us a bit about yourself...
I started my career as an electronic engineer after graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University (Glasgow college of Technology). I worked for a few years on aircraft defence systems, eventually moving into software development. In 1996, I started my own software company, which developed health and safety software systems. Over the following 8 years, I grew the company from 3 people to over 70 employees with offices in Glasgow, Hong Kong, and Phoenix. In 2004, shortly after I sold that company, I started another 2 companies, a software company, and an IT company, again in Glasgow. I went on to also sell those companies 10 years later. In 2015 I joined Ideagen Plc as their Group Commercial Director, eventually moving to the role as Chief Legal Officer overseeing the companies in house legal team and Risk and Compliance functions.
What inspired you to further your studies?
I have always been interested in law and considered applying to study a formal legal qualification for many years. Still, my own business's workload would have meant that I could not dedicate the required time. One of my mantras is if you are going to do something, do it well, and I would not have been able to devote sufficient time to give it my best or enjoy the experience. Ideagen are extremely supportive of further education and strongly encourage employees to consider further academic qualifications and indeed in many cases will not only fund those places but allow employees time off to attend classes.
Why did you choose to study for the LLM International Commercial Law?
I applied and was accepted onto an LLB course with two other universities, however, the LLM in International Commercial Law, given my current role as Chief Legal Officer and the fact that the majority of the work I am involved in is international, was the most applicable course and it also meant I could quickly use and benefit in practice from what I was studying, as well as providing an opportunity to compare and contrast the theory with the experience I had in practice.
What attracted you to Strathclyde specifically?
The course content was of particular interest, along with the opportunity to complete the course part-time, which suited my workload and enabled me to also continue to focus on my day job.
What was the highlight of your time at Strathclyde?
The highlight of my time at Strathclyde must be meeting and working with the other students, most of whom were international and from many different countries and cultures worldwide.
Have you come across any challenges during your studies, and how have you overcome them?
The workload was always going to be a challenge while working full time, and it was perhaps more of a challenge than I had expected. Reading took a huge amount of my free time, writing essays and the dissertation required many hours, days and weeks of uninterrupted study and large amounts of contiguous free time, which was not easy to find with a full-time job. Devoting weekends and holidays and locking myself in a room eventually paid off.
What would be your advice for people considering taking this course?
My advice would be to enjoy the experience, which I did immensely but ensure you can devote your weekends and sufficient time in the evenings to read and complete the course work. If you enjoy reading and writing and enjoy the subject matter, which in my experience was often fascinating, this is less of a challenge.
What do you think of the support available?
There was plenty of support available and opportunity to discuss the subject matter and get help where it was needed. The additional drop-in clinics were very helpful, given it had been some time since I had written an academic paper, or attended a lecture.
What are your ambitions for the future?
I am in the fortunate position of having a career and a full-time position. I did give serious consideration to going on to do a PhD, however, I have decided for the moment at least, to leave this until I have more time available.