Although my working career began in Civil Engineering, as a technician, on leaving School in 1978, the threat of redundancy led me to accept what was to have been a temporary “stop-gap” position with the Scottish Licensed Trade Association.

However, nearly 42 years later, having served a “long apprenticeship” as Assistant Secretary, I was promoted to the position of Secretary in 1999.   With the recent restructuring of the Association I now hold the position of Managing Director.

The main focus for myself and the Scottish Licensed Trade Association is dealing with the plethora of issues facing the licensed hospitality industry at present.  However, one key issue which has uniquely united the entire alcohol industry against is the so-called consultation on Advertising/Promotion Restriction and a close second is the concerns around the implementation of the Scottish Government’s Deposit Return Scheme.

  • What is the best thing about your current job or role in the industry?

Undoubtedly, it’s the people that you meet and work with, after all we are a “hospitality” industry and one which, more increasingly, is becoming the last bastion of non-virtual social interaction.  I think most people like a challenge, I certainly do, and today’s industry is faced with more than its fair share.   Each day you wonder “what’s next” and each day presents an opportunity to highlight the importance of the Licensed Trade to Scotland’s heritage, culture, tourism and contribution to the economy of Scotland.

  • What was your first job in the hospitality/foodservice or tourism industry?

My first job was a barman when I left school and was at college.   It gave me a great grounding in the industry and how to interact, and on occasion deal with, people from all sorts of backgrounds on a professional level.   It also instilled a great work ethic and sense of team participation to get the job done no matter what sector you work in.

  • Who has been your biggest influence during your career?

To be honest it’s hard to target just one.  As having been involved in the industry for almost all of my adult working life, I have been privileged to meet many key industry figures in the tourism and hospitality sector who each bring their own unique “character” from which you draw a wealth of experience.  If I could slightly narrow the target – then it would be the industry colleagues who have also spent the majority of their working life in this industry, unusual nowadays, but there are still quite a few of us around I am pleased to say.

  • What key piece of advice would you give the future generation of hospitality professionals?

Hospitality is all about people and to be successful in it at any level means you have to be people orientated, a team player, dedicated to customer service and willing to put in the hours to be successful.  That might be rather obvious, but without these qualities you will never reap the benefits of working in this people industry.   There is currently widespread demand for not only talented and skilled individuals, but there is an open door for those willing to learn.  If you are dedicated then there is a quick career progression which can fast track you up to owning your own business in a relatively short period of time.   Help and support in your career development is always available, so my key piece of advice is go for it, don’t be afraid to ask anything no matter how trivial you might think it is, drawn on the wealth of experience that lies out there and is freely offered by those who were once the new kid on the block.

  • What is your favourite restaurant or type of food?

Easy one - no particular favourite type or style of food as long as it is FISH! 

Main Course - Cullen Skink, mussels or any shellfish

Main Course – Happy with any type of fish, lemon sole one of my favourites.

Dessert – Not sure about a fish ice cream but have heard that you can get an anchovy and salmon ice cream in Italy!!  Not quite sure I would try it so will need to stick to a famous brand of “phish” food for the moment!

  • What is your favourite dish?

If sticking to fish then scallops, but you can’t beat good old sticky toffee pudding, custard and a wee drop of Heinz pureed apple sauce.

  • What is your favourite drink?

In the interests of non-favouritism, depends on the time of the year, place, event, and the company!

  • What or who are you looking forward most to see or meet at ScotHot 23?

Looking forward to seeing our members and meeting other licensees/staff/suppliers and producers face to face.   The last three years have been very insular for us all and we need to get back to welcoming and speaking to people directly.