How I got where I am today: Kevin Murray-Taylor
What did you want to be when you were young?
Like a lot of young boys, I wanted to be a professional football player. As a child, I played for the Highland League youth team in Keith but other teenage pursuits got in the way of my dream, although I still play now and we have set up a team at Ashtead.
What are the main career stepping stones you have taken?
I studied business studies at RGU and also attained the Chartered Institute of Marketing’s diploma in marketing. I received some great sales training at Aberdeen Journals in marketing and advertising.
In 1999, I joined a new subsea equipment manufacturer, setting up the sales department before moving to a global navigation satellite system specialist as regional sales manager in 2008.
In 2010, Ashtead Technology presented me with a new challenge to join their team and after only 18 months I was offered a sales manager position in Singapore.
How did working in Asia compare to the north-east of Scotland?
I wanted to push myself to develop more into a global sales and marketing role, so working with a variety of nationalities was the perfect opportunity. The South-east Asia region covered by Ashtead Technology’s Singapore office is vast, stretching from Sakhalin to Australia and across to India, which meant I travelled extensively on business to places such as Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Jakarta, Shanghai and Perth, Australia.
Even in Singapore, there is such a huge mix of cultures – Asian, European, American, Australian – you meet people from all four corners of the world, so it is a fantastic place to learn how to overcome cultural challenges. Thankfully, most could speak fluent English.
Working in Asia was important for my career – but it was also great fun. From a round of golf to jet-packing, where you are attached to a harness and propelled 10 metres into the air at great force. A real James Bond moment!
Singapore is the perfect hub to inexpensively travel at weekends and on holiday to some real “honeymoon resorts” – Phuket in Thailand or Bali. It was an amazing place to live. We saw the clearest, warmest water in the Maldives and the type of white sand and blue skies you see in the movies.
What brought you back to Aberdeen?
The position of global product sales manager was my ideal job, so the opportunity was too good to miss. My experiences in Singapore confirmed that I love working in a busy, internationally focused subsea business and, as I have always enjoyed developing something new, I am excited about leading Ashtead Technology’s equipment sales offering.
I see huge potential for the company, with some fantastic distribution agreements already in place and lots more to come. Also, as a keen snowboarder, I missed the snow.
Are you scared of making mistakes?
Absolutely not. You have got to take risks in life to get the most from it. Life is for living and if you haven’t made mistakes you haven’t lived.
Smoking – I really appreciate the fact in the UK you can go into a restaurant or bar and there is no smoking.
Who’s been your greatest influence?
Apart from my partner, Claire, and my family, who have always been supportive, I would say Sir Alex Ferguson. I am a huge fan of Aberdeen Football Club and Manchester United and have admired what Sir Alex has been able to achieve. His ability to motivate his team and get amazing results year after year has been a real inspiration.
What’s your idea of the perfect retirement?
Travelling the world to experience as many amazing new places as possible is the dream, but with Scotland always being my home.
Is the “career for life” a thing of the past?
It doesn’t have to be. It’s true that today people change jobs more frequently, but staying with one company can give you continuity, as well as the opportunity for development and career progression, as I have experienced with Ashtead Technology.
What would your autobiography be called?
Life in The Fast Lane.
Your favourite stress-buster?
Squash. I love to play football but when you are playing an intense game of squash you are always in play, so the worries of the day quickly disappear.
What has motivated you?
I look for opportunities to make a difference – that’s what keeps me going. I want complete job satisfaction. Of course, as a salesman, offering superior products, securing great contracts and making sure customers are 100% happy are the things keep me excited.
What’s your best career advice?
Always strive to better yourself even beyond your expectations and put yourself in an uncomfortable position to reap the rewards of what you want to attain. Don’t be afraid. Being comfortable is dangerous.