Welcome to our special monthly feature. With the definition of ‘In Profile’ being ‘to see from the side’ we hope you enjoy this opportunity to ‘meet’ an industry figure and discover another side to them beyond the well- known facts.
Here, we speak with Chairman of The Fuel Trading Company and Chief Executive of Southern Counties Glass, Neil Donald, and learn how his passion for getting the best out of himself and others is integral to all he undertakes.
Give your career history in 25 words or less. Engineering, ACAS, General Manager FT print works, grew and developed fuel and non-fuel businesses since 1984.
Describe yourself in 3 words. Enjoy tough challenges.
What were your childhood / early ambitions? Be as good as my father.
Describe your dream job (if you weren’t doing this?) Being a competent, caring, honest and objective Prime Minister.
What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received? Don’t be a dictator, talk and listen to all those than you work with, and encourage constructive criticism and debate from and with them.
Share your top tips for business success. Work hard, attend to detail, don’t rely on banks, honour your debts, value your suppliers, and stick to your word.
What’s your most recent business achievement of note? Seeing over the past 10 years a strategic change in Southern Counties Glass’ business development and success in specialist glass products and services.
Tell us your greatest fear? Currently my worst fear is having to reduce staff numbers in the current economic maelstrom, which if this transpires will be through no fault of their own. In addition, the stupidity of exiting the EU, and the consequences from this, particularly Johnson failing to conclude a trade deal with the EU.
Which is most important – ambition or talent? Talent, and discovering and developing this in individuals.
What’s the best thing about your job? Seeing colleagues enjoying their time at work.
Is there a quality you most admire? Honesty and straightforwardness.
What are you most likely to say? Good decision.
What are you least likely to say? You’re fired.
Describe your perfect day. Good cup of coffee, getting email correspondence up to date, going fishing, socialising with a drink and meal with friends.
Do you have a favourite sports team? Scotland rugby team [and a return to ongoing success], and Brighton and Hove Albion.
What’s the biggest challenge of our time? Eliminating poverty.
Share your greatest personal achievement. Developing and selling good businesses, knowing the purchasers will find difficulty in making them even better.
What’s your biggest pet hate or biggest irritant? Incompetent politicians with no understanding of real life. To quote Alan Hardacre [in a discussion I had with the then Secretary of the Football League in 1974] “if their brains were atom bombs they couldn’t blow that piece of paper off this table”.
If you were elected to government what would be the first law you’d press for? Allowing local authorities to build modern council houses at a fair rent, abolishing the right to buy such properties unless at current market value, and bringing water supply back into public ownership.
If your 20 year-old self saw you now what would they think? Jeez, you’ve gone grey.
What is number 1 on your bucket list? Sailing a catamaran in the Grenadines with friends and family.
What 3 things would you take to a desert island? Fishing equipment, a continuously charged satellite phone, and a fully functional and equipped boat.
Tell us something about you that people would be very surprised by. Labour party member since 1971.
Who would you most like to ask these questions to? Vladimir Putin.
This interview originally appeared in the August 2020 edition of Fuel Oil News.