How I got where I am today - David Buchan
Published: 22 Aug 2014
David Buchan, 53, managing director of MacArtney UK, a provider of winch systems, cables and moulding products, shares how he got where he is today.
What did you want to be when you were young?
While at school in Aberdeen, my focus was on a career flying, whether that was privately, with the airlines or with the Royal Air Force – I didn’t care. It was the challenge and experience of flight that attracted me. I held a private pilot’s licence when I was 17 and actually held this before I had a driving licence. Being the managing director of a company providing high technology solutions to the marine market did not even enter into the thought process in my early years.
What are the main career stepping stones you have taken?My career really began in my early 20s when I began life in sales selling electronic typewriters. After a few years, I joined an American-based company who manufactured and sold bespoke special cable products to the military, oil and gas and subsea research institutes. This move resulted in my first overseas travel with regular trips to America – North and South – the Far East including Japan and also throughout Europe. After 10 years of regular travel I decided that I had seen enough airports, hotel rooms and taxis for a while and joined The MacArtney Group with the task of setting up and developing their new offices in Aberdeen. Seventeen years later, I am still here.
Is there anything you would do differently?If I look back at the last 50-odd years then I am sure that there are lots of things that I would like to do a little differently but there is no point in dwelling on these because it is impossible to change it. If I had my time again, I probably would not start smoking as I gave up six or seven years ago. I would probably try to be less of a couch potato and spend more time trying to keep a little bit fitter. If the question is whether I regret anything, then the answer has to be no.
Are you scared of making mistakes?No, everyone makes mistakes from time to time, as long as you learn from those mistakes and do things differently next time there is really nothing to be scared of. Obviously everyone wants to do everything perfectly first time round but unfortunately this is not how things happen in the real world.
Pet hate?Maybe a strange one, but I drive a lot during the business week and the number of people who drive in rain, mist, or near dark without their headlights on, or with just sidelights on annoys me greatly. It is very strange that in the UK we have not adopted this rule that exists in a number of European and Scandinavian countries where by law you must drive with headlights on 24/7.
What do you want to achieve in the rest of your career?I have managed the MacArtney Group’s UK operation for almost 17 years and I hope to continue managing it for many more years to come. I tend to view the UK operation as my baby and I want it to continue growing and developing. Maybe it’s a little strange to call a £20million a year operation employing over 50 people a “baby” but that is still the way I see it. When it becomes an adult, that will be the time for me to look for something else or maybe just retire.
What’s your idea of the perfect retirement?I really have no idea what a perfect retirement would be, I actually have no idea what I would do if I did retire. I do not play golf and I keep being told how great it is so that is maybe something I should plan to learn about in my retirement when it comes. I will be very grateful if I still have good health at the time when I eventually do retire.
Is the “career for life” a thing of the past?Absolutely not. If you enjoy your career and it continues to present new challenges and opportunities why would you not want to stay there for life? I see a lot of CVs coming into our office and one of the first things I look at is stability. The candidate who has been in their last job for 10 or 20 years will get my attention, while the candidate who has had five different jobs in the last five years less so.
Your favourite stress-buster?The Audi A6 3.0Tdi Quattro that is parked in the MacArtney UK car park.I really enjoy driving and I have found no better way to wind down after a stressful day or week than to go for a long drive in the country. My favourite road for using the stress buster on would have to be from Alford to Grantown-on-Spey via the Lecht.
Is there any day in your career you would like to live again?I think that everybody has days in their career – and in their personal life – that they would like to either relive or maybe have another go at so, yes. I think that there are probably a couple of days in both areas that I would not object to having another go at. There are also a few that I would not object to reliving. Please don’t ask me to be more specific as I might embarrass myself and others.
Is there a time in your career you miss most?I think that I can honestly say that I have always enjoyed the work that I do so there is really not anything that I miss because I am still enjoying what I do today.
What’s your dream job?Unfortunately the answer to this one has to be a fantasy job, however at one point in my life I did think that it could one day become a reality. Flying in the Royal Airforce aerobatics team, The Red Arrows, is a dream that goes back to my youth and one that unfortunately I will never be able to achieve.