Diverse skill sets
Natasha Mckim asks Lewis Gray whether his 10-year-old self would have chosen his job?
Lewis Gray is only 31 years old but already has journeyed into a management role. Ballogie Estate in Aberdeenshire is a rural haven of natural beauty where people can stay in one of the self-catering properties, enjoy some outdoor pursuits or relax in the cafe and restaurant. For six years Lewis has been the property manager, but the role is more diverse than the job title lets on, and his duties extend to residential and commercial property as well as focusing on development.
Growing up, Lewis was always interested in sport. He grew up in Aberdeen as a child, before moving out into Aberdeenshire as a teenager. As a ten-year-old, Lewis thought he would go on to do a job which involved being more active. After he left school, Lewis studied sports science at university in Chester, but a year later he realised that, while sport was a hobby he loved, it was not something he wanted to do as a career.
Lewis said: “I trained as a quantity surveyor at Scotia Homes for six years and did my degree at RGU on day release in construction, design and management. I never thought I would be in a rural business.”
With his training more focused on construction, project costs and the way things are built, the role he has now is different and covers more areas. It gives him more experience in development work, especially since they have been working on upgrading the hotel, cafe and restaurant. Recently they were awarded five stars by Visit Scotland, so the team have begun to reap the rewards of their hard work.
He said: “We are doing work to open as a wedding venue next year. Business diversification in rural businesses is rewarding. It is great to get recognition for an idea that you have then carried out.”
As part of his role, Lewis must suggest ideas to the partners of the estate and manage the process of making these plans a reality. He has to ensure that projects are done to cost and manage the financial side amongst other things.
“It has been a massive learning curve,” said Lewis.
“It is great to have more responsibility in management and leadership, but those skills can only be improved by continually working on them.
To continue the development of his skill set, Lewis has joined a six-month rural leadership programme put on by Scottish Enterprise. It is delivered by the Scottish Agricultural College and is aimed at those who work in management roles in rural companies. Lewis has benefited from visits to parliament and the chance to meet others in business who can offer him advice.
Lewis said: “It is surprising how diverse this role is and how many skills you need for the job. I need knowledge in marketing, farming, health and safety and for the cafe. The scope of the skill set is so great there are different things going on, but the challenges make it fun and interesting.”