Chief Executive, House for an Art Lover, Glasgow
What was your favourite subject at school?
This must be French purely because the teacher, Miss Wiggins, was brilliant, and she struck the right balance between teaching and making the subject fun – closely followed by PE, also with a great teacher Mr Thompson!
What was your first job?
I had several part-time jobs, paper round, waiter, and dishwasher at a local pub where I grew up in Thornton.
My first full-time job was as a waiter in a restaurant owned by the former Food and Beverage Director of the Ritz and Executive Chef from the Waldorf Hotel – it was an excellent start working with two great mentors.
Which is your favourite restaurant /hotel?
My favourite Hotel is Gleneagles – not that I stay there regularly, but I worked there when I moved to Scotland in 1990. It offers a stunning setting, with great activities and a strong food and beverage offer – crowned with having the eponymous 2 Michelin Star restaurant Andrew Fairlie – managed by two great professionals – Stephen and Dale.
How do you inspire your team?
I like to be present and visible as much as possible, offering ongoing advice, support, and encouragement. Understanding the business and the ‘nitty gritty’ is essential to make clear improvement decisions and guide the team.
House for an Art Lover is a diverse operation with art studios, gallery and community project space, visitor attraction, retail, and various aspects of catering, including weddings, private dining, and meeting spaces; the team must be flexible in their approach – their flexibility and commitment inspires me.
Which person in hospitality have you most admired/inspired you?
This is a tricky question because I have worked with many great people, so there can’t be just one person – so, Ken McCulloch, for someone with attention to detail and general hawk-eye qualities – this unfortunately never leaves you. You can’t help adjusting pictures, dimmer switches, blinds, and zips on cushions. Robert Cook for someone who could inspire you with words of encouragement, support, and strong leadership qualities, and finally, Andrew Fairlie for his cooking ability, dedication, modesty, and guidance. I was lucky enough to share an office for three years with him in the early 90s when we worked together at One Devonshire Gardens. We discussed many topics, including football, rugby, and politics but mainly food, beverage, and service – great times and very inspirational for me.
How do you manage your stress levels?
I go out on my Mountain bike and play five-a-side football. But I am considering taking up wild swimming after watching a BBC programme with Greg Hemphill and Julie Wilson Nimmo.
Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook – and why?
I’m not a massive social media person, but I like Instagram occasionally, and I use Facebook to find out local information, i.e., if any local roads are blocked with flooding or snow!
If you had not gone into hospitality, where do you think you would be now?
Apart from being an international movie star! – I would have been an electrician and followed in my dad’s footsteps, who had a small business.
What did you do on your last days off?
I spent time with my family, visited the DCA to see an exhibition and use the cafe, and then went to the V&A – in Dundee.
What do you do to relax, to support your well-being?
Meet friends to chat – a problem shared is a problem halved.
Go for short walks, and as previously mentioned, I am considering wild swimming as it is supposed to be good for your mental health, and we certainly can use all the help available during these challenging times.