Our latest Just a Minute series continues with Gary Tracey, Financial Director with Paisley-based construction business City Gate Construction (CGC).
Why did you chose to work in the finance sector and how and did you get started in the industry?
After university I started work with Glasgow City Council in its internal audit division before moving on to the building and works department. I didn’t know it then but by working in building and works, I obtained an insight into construction. This ultimately led to me leaving the council to further my career in the private sector specifically in the construction industry – something that has held me in good stead in later years and particularly now at CGC.
Who or what has been the greatest professional influence in your life?
Those who influence others simply by what they have done and two good examples of incredible entrepreneurs are Sir Tom Farmer and Sir Tom Hunter – inspirational Scots who not only have been hugely successful in business but have a deep sense of doing the right thing for society. We all could learn from what they have done and continue to do.
Your best and worst professional experience?
I suppose I have two – my best professional experience was becoming Head of Finance and IT at Enterprise Ayrshire at age 29 – part of the Scottish Enterprise network. Equally important is being part of the team which has increased turnover at CGC from around £4 million when I joined two years ago to an expected £20 million now. As for the worst professional experience I cant think of one – maybe it is still to come!
What’s the best advice you received, either personal or professional?
Learn from others around you no matter what their position in the organisation.
What do you like most and least about your job?
What I like most is working in a very fast-pace environment which CGC is especially with the recent expansion of the firm into England. What I like least is if decisions are made off the cuff.
What advice would you give to anyone considering a career in finance?
Without a doubt it is the opportunities that arise from a career in finance. The opportunities for career progression remain immense – think of the number of chief executives in Scotland and beyond who have been finance directors or held a finance-related role. I’d have no hesitation in recommending a finance career to young people – I have certainly enjoyed mine.
What you would most like to change in the industry?
I’d like to see a simplification of the tax system – including pensions. I know progress has been made on simplifying pensions but the tax system for individuals and for companies remains complex. You end up thinking: “There must be an easier way to do it than this!”
Are you pessimistic or optimistic about the economic outlook in the wake of last June’s Brexit vote?
It is too early to even make a wild guess at how this will work out and no one could possibly call it. The UK Government will work hard to get the best deal but there are two sides to the Brexit negotiations. It is difficult to read how the European negotiators will behave or what they will extract from the UK before we bid farewell. On both sides self interest will be to the fore.
Which social media sites do you use?
I like Facebook and when I last looked I had 224 “friends”. Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites reflect the pace of technological change since I was working in IT at Enterprise Ayrshire. It is remarkable.
What are your hobbies and interests outside of the office?
I enjoy golf and football (having played American football as a young man). My wife is a headteacher in Glasgow so when we do get time off, we like to visit our son who is studying in Finland when we can. He is studying for his PhD in Theoretical Physics and like all parents we’re very proud of him.
What is your favourite holiday destination?
I have two – Aruba – a tiny Caribbean island off the coast of Venezuela and Rothesay on the Isle of Bute. But, unbelievably, there is a connection between the two – both of them have palm trees as anyone who has visited Rothesay will tell you! If only we could bring Aruba’s weather to Bute!