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David Cochrane MBE

CEO of Hospitality Industry Trust Scotland

We caught up this week with David Cochrane MBE, CEO of HIT Scotland, Congratulation on the recent Queens Honour, well deserved!

  • What was your favourite subject at school?

My favourite subject was Biology. I love everything about the natural world and I was lucky to have some great teachers who made the subject come to life. This was closely followed by all the sports classes which I really enjoyed, and it kept me away from the classroom!

  • What was your first job?

I had a number of jobs as a teenager. One of them was as a young sports coach for foreign students coming over to Scotland to learn English as well as see another country. It kept me busy over the summer months and made me feel important when I was in charge of the rounders tournament with a whistle! I wish I had more space to tell you about my other jobs including my short lived career as a DJ in a French Nightclub!!!

  • Which is your favourite restaurant /hotel?

Like many people in our industry, I’ve been very fortunate to spend time in many great hotels and eat in some fantastic places. I find as much pleasure in eating a BBQ on the West Coast on the beach as much as having some fine dining in a top hotel. For me, it has always been about the people and how they make you feel as a guest. I think the welcome, when it’s done right, in Scottish hospitality is the best in the world and so rather than single one place out, I would say my favourite places to eat and stay are in Scotland every time.

  • How do you inspire your team

I’ve always tried to instill belief and confidence with anyone I’ve worked with. I believe in the expression about “catching people doing something right” and saying so at the time, rather than always looking for problems. I try to push people to make their own decisions and come up with solutions as in many cases their thoughts and ideas will be far greater than mine! I believe that as we all spend so much time at work or thinking about work, you have to create a sense of fun and enjoyment at work as life and health are far more important than most trivial things.

  • Which people in hospitality have you most admired / inspired you?

I have been lucky throughout my whole career to have worked and been inspired by many people from all walks of life. When you look back at how your career has been shaped, there are normally a number of people that you have looked up to, to get you to the next level. This includes family and friends. The four Chairs of HIT Scotland have been instrumental in shaping my last 15 years with the Charity. Peter Lederer CBE, Stephen Carter OBE, Paddy Crerar CBE and my inspirational current Chair, Angela Vickers, have all inspired me every step of the way.

  • How do you manage your stress levels?

I always view stress, in manageable amounts, as very helpful in getting things done. If it wasn’t for the last minute, I think most things in life would never be achieved! I try and put every stressful situation into perspective. At the end of the day, something that was so vital one day, will be replaced by another vital thing another day. Rather than stress about what might happen, I try to visualise what a successful and positive outcome will look like and most times, things end up that way.

  • Instagram, Twitter or Facebook – and why?

I’m at the age where Facebook would be my favourite. I love the pictures and stories from friends and family, from all over the world. To me it really connects me with friends from every stage of my life. We share in good news stories and are also there for everyone when times are tough. You have to be aware that people rarely put a picture up of a bad day or situation…it tends to be sunshine and good times! A touch of reality is always required!!

  • If you had not gone into hospitality, where do you
    think you would be now?

When I was leaving school, I was very close to joining the Royal Marines. I did a huge amount of training courses at the Marines HQ in Lympstone and also with 45 Commando in Arbroath. I was as fit as a fiddle! Had it not been for the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh ‘86, where I worked at the athletes village, I might be in some far flung war zone just now! I’m delighted that hospitality won the day!

  • What did you do on your last days off?

At the time of writing this (end September) I was meant to be climbing Kilimanjaro to raise funds for the HIT Scotland scholarship programme. This has been moved to next September when we can hopefully get everything back on track. So last weekend I climbed Ben Nevis to keep the mountain fitness up. It was a beautiful sunshine climb with great views and stunning scenery. A perfect way to spend a day off and clear the mind of all the current challenges we all face.

  • What do you do to relax, to support your wellbeing?

Wellbeing is key to enable you to live a healthy and fulfilling life. I really enjoy cooking and entertaining friends and family with all sorts of culinary creations from the kitchen. This is often accompanied with a glass of vino or two. I find this therapeutic and relaxing at the same time. I also think exercise is important to keep your mental health in order. The hills and general outside activity have always been a passion of mine. I’m lucky living in central Scotland as the great outdoors are on the doorstep.