President’s Address 2017
Immediately after routine business was complete, Alastair McFarlane, our newly elected President, launched his oration. He picked his theme from the Cage aux Folles’s song – I am what I am! It quickly became clear that Alistair has a distinctly thespian approach to his communication. It was no surprise to hear that he’d been a member of an amateur drama club and had played at the Crawfurd Theatre, Jordanhill in a number of productions including Fiddler on the Roof.
Alastair was born and bred in Callander where he went to McLaren High. On leaving school he took up an apprenticeship in Cost and Management Accountancy in Renfrew for 5 years. Following this he went to Strathclyde and did a course in personnel management. This shift into human resources took his career to Howden’s, Weir Pumps and Teachers. While in Teachers he was responsible, since his role spanned PR as well as HR, for introducing the first guided tour of any distillery and, as the tourist business expanded, he controversially brought in English Guides. This had the practical advantage that no translators were required for the tourists!
Teachers closing their Scottish operation led to a new career entirely, introducing the role of Bursar to the largest UK school, George Watsons’ College, with 2,300 pupils. The remit covered all financial transactions, all catering, property maintenance, premises hiring and upkeep of 10 acres of grounds to name but a few elements!
Eventually Alastair moved into his own consultancy and has enjoyed working with big corporate clients, on employment tribunals and as a member of the General Optical Council. This work has taken him all around Scotland and he still works extensively particularly on the development of CVs for those leaving Police Scotland. In parallel with his professional career, Alastair has been, and remains, very active in the Rotary movement not only at Club level but in District Management. He has also been an elder for 30 years. Finally, he shared his cuttings of articles, many under a nom de plume, sent to the newspapers over many years. No one can say that Alastair has been sitting on his hands! Clearly he is going to make his personal stamp on this year’s Presidency.