60 seconds with... Simon Gore

* 2 min read

What was your first job?

I grew up next to a sealoch on the west coast of Scotland, miles from anywhere, so my first job was as a mussel picker, selling to local hotels & restaurants for the princely sum of £4 per bucket (about 1p each).

Who’s most influenced your career, and why?

Probably Mary Lewis of the award-winning design consultancy Lewis Moberly. Whilst Mary has a touch of 'The Devil Wears Prada' about her and can be genuinely scary, she is undoubtedly the most inspirational and intuitive creative I've ever worked with (well her AND our very own Jo Saker!).

What’s your greatest business achievement?

When fighting off an attempted hostile takeover bid of Scottish & Newcastle Breweries in 1988, I organised the then largest business petition in UK history: 1.4 million signatures in 17 days, to get the takeover referred to the Monopolies & Mergers Commission and ultimately thwart Elders IXL. That and naming Hovis 'Best of Both'.

What was your worst mistake – and what did you learn?

Taking a decision too quickly that wasn't mine to take, which resulted in a large batch of beer being sent to the packaging plant too early. It resulted in a £9,000 cost to Marketing, the same amount as my starting salary. Don't be afraid to take decisions, but always check things carefully, and look before you leap.

What gadget can’t you live without?

Our Nespresso coffee machine.

Which one person would you most like to have dinner with – and why?

Sir David Attenborough - an undisputed master in his field and a fascinating story-teller (and I'm a wildlife nut and a bit of a twitcher, if the truth be known!).

What’s the worst piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

'Never say no' - when first starting out, seasoned consultants used to say they feared telling a client they couldn't take on work because the client might not come back to them. But in my experience, I've found the opposite to be true. Clients like working with you and respect you when you're upfront about what you can and can't do and when you consistently deliver quality work on time. By all means be helpful but don't just agree to a client's demands at all costs. 

And the best?

The best way to sell is to 'listen' (we have two ears and one mouth, so that we can listen twice as much as we speak).

Describe your perfect day off

On a Scottish beach, family, dogs, cold beer and fish & chips.

Tell us one thing no one knows about you

At school I played the violin for ten years, but never really cracked it - eventually I gave it up and joined the pipe band as a drummer.

Paul Bean, the last 60 seconds …interviewee wants to know: what signature dish do you cook for your partner?

Something with eggs - probably baked in the Aga with ham hock, mushrooms and a sprinkling of cheese.

What one question would you ask the next person in the SBS’ 60 seconds hotseat'?

What did you want to be when you grew up?