From Glasgow to the Silicon Valley

From Glasgow to the Silicon Valley

 Larry Cable has worked in IT for almost 30 years

1)  Where did you grow up and at what age did you leave Scotland?

I was born in Glasgow July 1960, and grew up in Paisley, Bridge of Weir, Beith, Drumnadrochit, and finally in Edinburgh, which I still consider as “home”. I left Scotland for a job “down south” in the summer of 1986 at the age of 26; having arrived in Reading (Berks) my instant reaction was to wonder when the next train home was!

I left the UK in September of 1989 (aged 29) to move to the Silicon Valley in sunny California to work for Sun Microsystems, just in time for the big earthquake the following month!


2)  What made you leave sunny Scotia?

I had worked at ICL Dalkeith in the Duke of Buccleuch’s Palace during and after my studies at Napier and St Andrews; and would probably have still been there had it not closed in 1983. After my mother passed away from cancer, I worked for a start-up called Spider Systems in Leith (as well as Burroughs in Cumbernauld and a short stint at the Turing Institute).

Having no family the lure of working abroad in the IT industry was too great; I stupidly turned down a job with Microsoft in Seattle and AT&T in New Jersey to take a job with DEC in Reading Berkshire… what was I thinking?

Sadly, Scotland, while having both a strong academic and commercial computer related community, I wanted more and hence looked elsewhere to further my career!

I don’t regret moving to the US, although it is a great country it is also very different from Scotland in many ways, ironically for such a large and influential country it is also very isolated from the rest of the world! With less than 40% of the population owning passports the “average” American, if such a person exists, really lacks an appreciation of the rest of the world that the “average” European has.

Thank goodness for BBC America World News!


3) What is your job/sector and how many countries have you lived in?

I have worked in the IT industry since I graduated in 1983. I have lived in Scotland, England and predominantly the USA (California) since then.

4)  Do you crave Irn Bru when you’re homesick?

Of Course! I also crave morning rolls, slicing sausage and 80/-, a really good curry and much more….


5) What do people in your host country think of Scots and Scotland?

Well it will probably come as no surprise but the Americans in general want to claim some Scottish ancestry, but they also get confused and think it’s part of England, mistaking that for “Great Britain”!


6)  How do you feel about Scotland now that you’re gone?

I am very proud to be Scottish, and always make it clear to people that Scotland is different from England. I think it’s a great wee country that has contributed a lot to the world, punching (at least historically) “above its weight”. I would very much like to see it thrive more in the future.


7) What do you miss most and least about the auld country?

I miss my friends the most, as well as the scenery and the spirit of the people, I miss the weather the least!


8)  What about the independence referendum coming up? How will it affect you and Scotland’s international image?

Well I cast my 1st vote ever, as a 17 year old, for independence back in the 1979 referendum so, I was happy to see that devolution occurred and that the question might be asked again.

I am heartened to see the Scandinavian Countries doing so well, I think they are a model and inspiration for Scotland, but I am also very concerned that a lot of very important questions have neither been asked nor answered about the many political, economic and countless other aspects of separating from the UK.

If Scotland decides to separate, it must evolve significantly in order to thrive; if it remains the same country it is now, independence will I fear result in nothing but suffering for Scotland and her people.

In my opinion an independent Scotland would have to innovate well beyond what countries such as Ireland, Norway, Sweden etc. have done in order for it to thrive and take its place in the world order. Simply remaining the country it is, and depending upon (dwindling) oil revenues is a recipe for failure.

I would be proud to be an ex-patriot citizen of a successful Scotland… “Scots Wha Hae”


9)  Describe Scotland in three words!

“pure, dead, brilliant”


10) Do you have any plans for living in Scotland again and have you got a message for Scots back home?

I did come back for a year in 2006 to work for Amazon in Edinburgh, and loved being home, but eventually decided that while I work I should take advantage of what America has to offer.

Having said that it is my fervent hope and plan to return home to Scotland when I retire (only another 17 years to go I hope) and enjoy my retirement years in the best country in the world!

I would encourage young Scots to take advantage of our wonderful universities, get a great education, then see some of the world, work abroad, travel, meet people from other countries, broaden your horizons, always be a good ambassador for Scotland, always greet a fellow Scot you meet abroad, and go back home often!


Do you know a successful Scot who lives outside Scotland and who Scottish Times can profile? If so contact Ina Göldenitz on or call 00 44 (0) 344 7570



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