09 Jul Greenock to Georgia
North America for Cognizant Technology Services, (CTSH) a
Fortune 500 IT Services company (USA)
1) Where did you grow up and when did you leave Scotland?
I grew up in Greenock and lived in Edinburgh, Glasgow and lastly Kilbarchan. I left Scotland in 1995 with my wife and 8 month old son for a new job in Radnor, Pennsylvania.
2) What is your job/sector and how many countries have you lived in?
I currently run an IT consulting group, focused on North America, specializing in SAP’s Human Resource solutions. Other than Scotland, we have lived in the US (Pennsylvania), Switzerland (on Lake Geneva), Canada (north of Toronto), and now back in the US (Georgia).
Over the past ten years I have also worked in Brazil, Mexico, Dominican Republic and Bermuda.
3) Do you sometimes visit bonny Scotland?
We have been back to Scotland a few times over the past sixteen years. Less often than we (or our families) would like. Sparse US vacations make the trip even more of a challenge!
4) What do people in your host country think of Scots and Scotland?
I think almost every American I’ve met has claimed Scots ancestry! A bit of an exaggeration but pretty close. Generally people are interested, but know very little about anything outside of the US. Many seem to have gotten all their information from the Rob Roy and Braveheart movies.
When I talk about Scotland and Scottish innovation, most of them are surprised – the common images of Scotland being golf, highland castles and kilts! They still have a romantic image of us running around in kilts with blue faces!
5) Should haggis be a protected species?
Not if it makes it harder to find! It is already too hard to get haggis. Almost impossible to find decent haggis. It’s not exactly something you can find even in specialty food stores!
6) Has living abroad changed the way you think about Scotland?
Most definitely. In common with many Scots, I took my homeland for granted. I took our attitude to education and to governance and to fairness for granted. I certainly took our attitude to unearned authority for granted.
Living abroad had helped me realise how grounded and rational our nation is, especially in comparison to the US! I thank my broad Scottish education for making me seem so smart!
7) What do you miss most and least about the auld country?
I miss family, sarcastic comedy, great seafood, curries, real work life balance, and endless days in summer. I do not miss endless nights in winter, horizontal rain, girning, or a generally awful diet.
8) What about the independence referendum coming up? How will it affect you and Scotland’s international image?
I think an independent Scotland will be able to capitalize on its native strengths as a tourist destination, as a vibrant highly educated country, as a center for financial probity, and as a nation of inventors and iconoclasts!
I am hopeful that the referendum will return the right result for Scotland: freedom from the yoke of domination by England – even where that domination is entirely benign.I also think that independence will allow Scots to become the people they truly should be: proud of their nation as it is today, not just as it once was!
Personally, I am looking forward to calling myself a citizen of Scotland!
9) When are you coming home for good and do you have a message for Scots back home?
Having lived for so long with climate rather than weather I am now too soft to live in Scotland! Maybe when global warming results in Scotland becoming the new Riviera, we would come back!
Seriously, though, when Scotland is independent, I expect there to be more senior corporate roles available in Scotland. Even with the weather I would consider coming home so long as I did not need to live in London – which is currently the case. I may have a hard time persuading my family to move from life with a pool, though!
My message for Scots at home is simple: be all you can be. You are still that nation full of innovators and inventors, leaders and thinkers! Being a small nation simply means you don’t have all the baggage of a big one! Be smart, be nimble, be proud, and be successful!