I worked for eighteen years in the public sector in Bristol. I cut my teeth as an adminstrator; learnt why public sector conditions of service were so valuable; realised that every system in the world can be used to good effect if your intentions are honourable; had the profound good fortune to mix with a truly honourable bunch of the 'old school' - brimming with integrity, full of understanding about life, commonsense, humanity, and sheer practical operational 'let's make it happen.'
After that, I relocated to Scotland to work for a Highland estate. This was a fascinating time: I met some genuine, hard-working country folk; I learnt about the pros and cons of environmental issues, access to land, planning control, public relations, tourism, small rural businesses, the differences between small accounting firms and large ones, and a thousand other useful aspects of rural life.
I then undertook a brief stint lecturing in business skills at Thurso College. That was a time of discovery: I found I really enjoyed it, and not all my students were left bewildered and confused (at least, I don't think so). But I realised then that I wanted to be doing things, not talking about them.
I was happily fortunate to be offered the opportunity to manage an estate on the beautiful Isle of Islay, which I did for a period of eleven and a half years. The estate was small (in terms of Scottish estates), but was a micro-world in itself. It was a community; it provided local industries, livelihoods, social support, and longevity in an arena where these things are rare. During my time on Islay I learnt compassion for those struggling against the odds; an understanding of the cottage industry end of the business world; the role of the regulatory authorities, and I learnt about the complex interactions between the rich and the relatively poor. Above all, I learnt the vital importance to this country of its local industries and their ability to sustain both their own communities and the wider population of this country.
Now that I have returned to the mainland, I have skills, experience, energy and empathy, which I believe could be of use to people engaged with small businesses both locally and - in my specialist fields - on a wider basis.