Winter 2009: Register
Scotland-born Hamish Taylor 84MBA says Emory ‘started a trend’ of innovation
By Julia Morgan Williams
From consumer goods to management consulting, transportation to banking, and now his own company, Hamish Wilson Taylor 84MBA, founder of Skills Exchange Network, has a wide-ranging resume that the London Times has said “takes some beating.” And as recent chair of Emory’s Europe, Middle East, Africa Advisory Board and past recipient of the Jagdish Sheth Distinguished International Alumni Award, Taylor is as loyal to Emory as he is to his native Scotland. Taylor came to the University from St. Andrews as a Bobby Jones scholar and went on to complete his MBA at Emory. “My experience at Emory started a trend for me of moving from one environment to another, which culminated in setting up the Skills Exchange Network a few years ago,” Taylor says. Beginning his career at Procter and Gamble and what was then Price Waterhouse, Taylor went on to head up brand management at British Airways. He was then recruited to lead Eurostar Group, the company that runs the high-speed train service through the channel tunnel from the U.K. to France and Belgium, and later to serve as CEO of Sainsbury’s Bank and Vision UK. His latest challenge has been to found his own company, Skills Exchange Network, which focuses on enabling organizations to achieve breakthroughs in innovation or people development by looking outside their current environments.
How did you decide to attend Emory?
I was at St. Andrews, had completed my MA in economics, and was selected to be a Bobby Jones scholar. I was funded for my first year through the program but wanted to stay a second year to complete my MBA so that I would have an edge going back to the U.K.
How would you describe your Emory experience? What did you enjoy most?
I was living on campus and was highly involved in soccer and rugby and campus activities. I have so many good memories. I loved going to the Master’s tournament with the other Bobby Jones scholars and the opportunity to play golf at Druid Hills. In order to stay a second year at Emory, I needed to find funding, and so I became a resident director of McTyeire dorm and a student manager at the DUC.
Has your Emory degree had an impact on your career? How?
Absolutely, my experience at Emory, moving from the U.K. to the U.S. really started this trend of switching from one environment to another. Of course my MBA helped me, too. At Emory we were involved in real projects, case studies, and worked on skills that are required for business. These skills (such as presentation skills) are the basis of my whole career. My current business, Skills Exchange, is all about innovating through seeing things from a completely different perspective.
What are the key differences in American and British practices in your field, and how has your Emory education helped you negotiate those?
U.K. business tends to be more formal. The U.K. focuses quite heavily on coming up through the finance route. My specialty has always been marketing and branding, and so the MBA helped me to understand all areas of the business.
What do you do for enjoyment?
When not working, family and sport take up the rest of my time. Too old (and slow!) to compete as much as I used to, I am relegated to watching these days—in fact, for anyone who knows me, I rarely miss a match where Scotland is competing in anything! I currently spend every Saturday morning as a rugby referee, and although they have been darned many times, I am proud to say that I still wear my Emory rugby socks from 1984!