Ruaridh MacFarlane’s role as Senior Expert and Commission Manager has taken him from Glasgow to London, London to Dubai to expand HKA’s expert services – all in less than two years.

Here, he talks about his journey so far, and his aspirations for the future.

Tell me about your background.

I started out my career studying law. I found a job in Frankfurt working in a law firm for about a year before I had the opportunity to move to HKA’s Glasgow office. From there, I was helping with the transfer from Cadogans’ rebrand from the Hill demerger into HKA. It was here I found I had a strength in co-ordination and planning.

I was then presented with an opportunity to relocate to London to assist with co-ordinating technical experts, identifying where their skills could be utilised on projects and building a bigger talent pool externally to draw upon, with the goal of covering every type of technical expertise in every corner of the world.

A business need then arose in the MEA region, in the form of expansion of the technical engineering experts, so I took the opportunity and moved to Dubai in January 2018.

What inspires you in your job?                             

I’m inspired by the opportunity to learn from my colleagues I work with on a daily basis. I also have so much exposure to many different areas of the business.

This has been invaluable in helping me understand our business more holistically, with tasks such as interviewing and training experts, managing them while on projects, and expanding knowledge of our service through business development. It’s a certain perspective that can only be gained by working on so many of the moving parts of our business.

Describe a typical day in your role.

There is not so much a typical day – but it always involves being flexible and agile, reacting to the huge variety of different situations that can occur.

Activities that tend to be more scheduled include developing training for experts, meeting with external experts or clients, or any of the internal projects that strive to improve the quality of our expert services.

The project management is the most unpredictable and subject to external interfaces, so here is where I must be most reactive and able to prioritise.

The other side to this though is making sure I am not digressing, and to remain focused on my core objectives. Making sure I am driving things and not being driven can be difficult. I try to find time to stop and reflect on the work I’m doing and ensuring it is adding value

Day-to-day, I work with my team closely and we hold a lot of internal discussions to align our tasks, as this influences external co-ordination. Maintaining consistency and quality of the service are key parts of the role.

I guess what I’m saying is that no day is the same, except there is consistently a lot of planning, co-ordinating, and strategising to ensure we are all using our time in a way that will have the greatest positive impact.

How does your role support the Middle East’s Expert services?

This is still being developed, as the expansion to the Middle East is brand new. I am the ‘vanguard’ of the technical expansion if you like, their face-to-face contact. We have a global portfolio of experts and clients, but until now, we have only had engineering office presence in the UK.

I still interact with the Glasgow office as they are very much the technical expert mothership. I’ve found being that link between the regions is great for highlighting opportunities and trends for both regions.

I enjoy working for Michael Tonkin in Dubai, because, aside from his enviable knowledge of the arena in which we operate, he is someone who seems to place great value in the development of his team, and I have great respect for this.

What convinced you to make the move to Dubai from London?

I’ve always thought when looking for a job, the most important area I could contribute to is business growth. There is so much growth opportunity for this HKA Engineering in the MEA region, and it’s great to be a part of this, so I didn’t take much convincing!

What do you think has been the reason for your success?

Probably that I do not yet consider myself successful, and hope I never will!

Someone once told me that if you are the smartest person in the room, you are probably in the wrong room. So aside from the above I would say that I always try to surround myself with people who are more competent and more experienced than myself.

So if I had to choose one factor that I believe could lead to ‘success’, it would be being around talented people, and I am lucky enough to come across such people in my life, including at HKA!


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Laura Forbes
Global Communications Executive

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