Gordon Reid, regional business development manager, Kier Regional Building Scotland, writes a letter to his younger self.
I would start by saying you should always believe in yourself. Life is full of difficult situations: you’ll need to trust you will always be able to work things out. You’re going to fail Maths but that won’t be the end of the world, as you will have a successful career in construction and project management spanning 40 years. The Glasgow Institute of Architects will want you to be its Honorary Treasurer for 17 of them!
Don’t worry that the rules and regulations at secondary school seem frustrating, pointless and don’t make sense. In sixth year you will get the chance to do a voluntary placement at Gartnavel hospital. You will enjoy the routine of work and, ironically, the process of demolishing a building will open your eyes to the world of construction. Your childhood fascination with building Meccano bridges will transform into a genuine career option.
Remember to create your own path. Your original plan to go to university and study Civil Engineering won’t go as planned, but as one door closes another opens for you. You will take your dad’s advice and consider quantity surveying. You’ll join Thomas & Adamson as a trainee. It’s a fantastic opportunity and you’ll never look back. You will have a great mentor in Frank Thomas, more of his influence later. Working and studying will give you the chance to take your professional RICS exams at Glasgow College of Building & Printing between 1978 and 1984. You will rise up the ranks and attain your Chartership and you will be a Fellow shortly after you become an Associate Partner.
Enjoy leading and being part of a team. In your spare time you will motivate youngsters as a Scout Leader and you will take key roles on committees in your community. In the workplace, teams will become an integral part of your success. You will always want to get the best out of people and will thrive on working alongside talented staff. You will find that managing big projects and people will become your stock in trade when you become Director of Faithful+Gould, and you will go on a six-month placement in Amsterdam.
Amsterdam will bring you incredible challenges and the chance to be part of a bridge build – realising a cherished childhood dream at last. The bridge will be underground, but still technically a bridge. You will manage a team of specialist surveyors in a commercial and contractual audit of a new €1.5 billion metro system. You will use your team skills of motivation and trust - the latter essential as you have to rely on translators to draft your audit results.
Know yourself and understand your faults. You will learn a valuable lesson when you have to pick up an engagement ring thrown down Ingram Street by your future wife Elizabeth. You realise you are immature and need to grow up fast if you don’t want her to get away. This will be one of the best decisions of your life.
“Family First” will become one of your life mottos. You will learn what it is to be a father and the joys and challenges it brings. You will have two sons with completely different personalities and skills, and you will love them both for it. You will marry Elizabeth. You will always be in awe of her capabilities as she carves out a successful career, becomes an amazing mother to your sons and, later, a carer for her own parents. Work will take you away from your family a lot, but it will be for a job you enjoy. You will appreciate that you find your work rewarding and also be so proud of your wife and all her achievements.
Life will present you with many challenges – particularly related to your family and their health. At times it will be hard, and you’ll feel conflicted, but you will make the time to make sure you are always there to look after the people most important to you. Your wife will be rushed to hospital and you fly back from Amsterdam and take care of her until she is fit and well. One of your sons will need help changing career you will take the time to help him with his interview skills and pass on some advice, just like your dad did for you.
You will come to understand what a valuable lesson your first boss and mentor, Frank Thomas, taught you when he gave you a dressing-down for not knowing details about a client. You respected him and his opinion as he was professional, well connected and always one step ahead of his clients and competitors. You will always remember that telling off. You will never forget your mentor and his legacy of always being well prepared and professional.
A highlight of your career is your role at Kier. Although you hung up your Glasgow Academy boots in 4th year, (as you didn’t fancy fighting for your life in the second row any longer), you never forget the camaraderie of team sports. Kier will be the perfect company for you to demonstrate your incredible ability to bring people together from a variety of sectors.
In this role you will be an ambassador, not only in Scotland but throughout the UK. You will understand the importance of your experience across a variety of sectors and will also be able to use the large network of business partners you have nurtured. They will be impressed by the confidence and professionalism you bring to your role.
Kier will allow you to work on prestigious and important projects in health, education and important heritage projects such as the Burrell Collection in Glasgow and Aberdeen Music Hall.
So, in closing, I say to you: enjoy the variety of life, choose a career in something you enjoy and make sure you have the time for activities you enjoy and for people you cherish. And always appreciate the value of a loving and supportive family.