Tell us about your background
I’ve worked in the hotel industry for most of my career, which has taken me as far afield as the USA. After working for some of the most reputable hotels in the industry – including Gleneagles and Macdonald Hotels – I accepted a Director’s position at Nuffield Health, which involved running private hospitals and health clubs in Scotland. I worked in healthcare for five years before getting the call about the position at the EICC and now here I am.
What was it that attracted you to the position with the EICC?
I love Edinburgh and getting the chance to come back and work here was a real pull. I was also keen to move back into hospitality after five years of working in private hospitals, so being presented with the opportunity to head up the UK’s most prestigious conference centre at a time when the EICC has recently doubled in size was too good to miss.
How have you found the role so far?
It has been fantastic. I’ve been to the ICCA conference in Turkey, which really brought home the global extent of both this role and the business. I’ve also had the pleasure of dining with HRH The Princess Royal at the Royal Opening of our Lennox Suite. And I have been thoroughly welcomed into the role, not just by my colleagues at the EICC, but from the First Minister of Scotland and leaders of the other political parties.
What are your current priorities?
We already have a wealth of association and corporate clients and I would like to build on this client base in order to create more development opportunities and to secure more future business. I also want to increase the awareness of our expanded dining facilities. With Leith’s at the EICC as our catering partner we can serve 2,000 guests an exceptional, quality dinner and there is real demand for this sort of event in the city.
In your opinion, what makes Edinburgh such a great location to host an event?
The city has become more accessible, which means it is now in much greater demand. New airport routes combined with better transport links mean it is now easier than ever to get to Edinburgh. The quality of accommodation in the capital has also improved greatly over the years. New hotel brands have come into the city and our existing brands have all invested heavily in their offering. All of these aspects play an important role in making Edinburgh a world-class destination.
What do you think makes the EICC stand out as a venue of choice?
There is no other events space in the world like our Lennox Suite – the moveable floor creates so much flexibility. We also have a really strong understanding of our clients’ needs and we have world-leading technology, which can promote their brand very effectively across the EICC and throughout their event. Our location is also very attractive. There are very few conference centres with our quality and our facilities that are based right in the heart of the city centre. This factor is helping us to redefine city centre corporate and events space.
What challenges does the EICC currently face?
Our biggest challenge is the increased competition from a global perspective, as there are some great venues opening across the world. The economic situation is also still a challenge but the volume of association business and corporate events that are starting to come through is very encouraging.
What excites you about the future of the EICC?
The flexibility of the new Lennox Suite is very exciting. It allows us to host different styles of events that we wouldn’t have been able to do historically, and we are now attracting larger associations and a greater range of corporate business to the EICC. A great example of this is roadshows – we are seeing more bookings for this type of event now that we have the facilities to cater for them. I am also excited about being back in the hospitality industry. I love knowing that there is an event where we have to feed 2,000 guests in a very short space of time. That kind of thing really excites me.
What keeps you busy outside of work?
My wife and two kids keep me very busy and I love that. We do a lot of outdoor activities together and I am a keen open water swimmer and take part in a lot of endurance events. I also play the guitar, which helps me to relax.
If you could invite three people to dinner, living or otherwise, who would they be and why?
My late father would be one of them as he was a really caring man who was interested in people and had a fantastic sense of humour, so I’d love to go to dinner with him again. The second person would be the late James Gandolfini because I love The Sopranos. It’s based on a world I know nothing about but I find immensely entertaining. And the third person would have to be Ricky Gervais. He is a very funny man and I think he would get on really well with my dad.