The MacKenzie file Featured

8:00pm EDT October 26, 2007

Born: Blairgowrie, Scotland

Education: Higher national diploma, mechanical and production engineering and an ordinary national diploma in electrical/electronics engineering, Fife University, Scotland

What’s your biggest business challenge?

Walking into a brand-new job on Day One. It’s horrible. It’s an uncomfortable, horrible, yucky thing. Everyone’s looking at you and just goes, ‘Well, I’ll wait to see what he wants.’ Overcoming it is just very quickly getting everyone on board. When you’re walking in to facilitate what’s broken and working, the people have low morale and self-esteem. I feel so sorry for them. As fast as possible, get around to every person and tell them, ‘You’re not an idiot, and it’s a brand-new Day One of a culture change.’ Dig in because if you think about the enormity of the challenge, you won’t get there.

What’s the best business lesson you’ve learned?

I’m stupid. I know nothing. I’m not a clever person. I don’t have the knowledge. I do my job, and we have to employ the other people who are good and have the knowledge to do their job.

What was your first job?

I come from a working-class family, and my dad had to work two jobs to try to get us through school. At 14, I started to work in hotels at dish washing, assistant waiter and learn silver-service waiting, and did that all through school and college to help the family out. My first job after college, I had a unique opportunity, I could either become a head waiter of one of those five-star hotels or go into a brand-new start-up, but you weren’t allowed to start as an engineer. You had to start as a technician on the line, even with all your engineering qualifications, and it paid less than the head waiter. I had been through college to get the engineering qualifications and chose the latter.