Linda Scott: From horses to politics via catering

You need to choose, Linda, is it university or the horses?”

“For me it was a no-brainer; I went with the horses,” says Linda Scott, CEO of West Lothian Chamber of Commerce and Director of Scottish Chambers of Commerce. She is talking about her early career and how she got to where she is today. “My mum said, ‘That’s ok, but if it’s the horses you fund it yourself.’” So, aged 17, Linda set up a catering business. “I couldn’t cook,” she says, “but my mum was a home economics teacher and very supportive. She lent me £600, I bought a fridge and cooker and set up in business in the utility room.”

Linda is a high energy, live-life-to-the-full businesswoman. Her choice to go straight into work from school is one that has led her to championing Developing the Young Workforce, a Chamber of Commerce initiative that supports young people, businesses and educational institutions to explore the many pathways into work for young people. “University or college is not for everyone, and there is a huge number of options out there.”

Within a year, Linda had opened a coffee shop and business was going well. A chance meeting led to a job riding horses and attending horse shows all over the UK – an opportunity she leapt at, leaving the coffee shop in her mum’s hands. She was earning very little but loving it, then from the equestrian contacts an opportunity to cater in shooting lodges came along. Again with the support of her mum, who helped with devising menus, how to set out the tables and so on, she ended up being hugely successful. “I could command my price,” she says, “I was cooking for some of the wealthiest people in the UK, as well as politicians and members of the Royal Family.” Although she did ride horses too for a while, the catering business grew to become one of the largest bespoke caterers in Scotland with international clients such as Coca Cola, Samsung, and many banks on its client list.

Linda Scott, West Lothian resident and CEO of West Lothian Chamber of Commerce and Director of Scottish Chambers of Commerce

When Linda was asked to sit on the board of West Lothian Chamber of Commerce, and quickly became vice chair, she realised she loved it. “It was better than carting boxes around in vans doing the catering! So I sold most of the business, retaining just the highest-end contract at Gosford House, a beautiful venue where we still cater for large corporates and international clients.”

As a Director of Scottish Chambers too Linda is involved in advising government on business, and sits on education advisory committees. “We focus on other routes into a career besides university and college, something I am very passionate about.”

With two children, international travel, the catering business and a penchant for taking on huge physical challenges, Linda has to be ferociously organised. From Tough Mudder, the first CEO Sleep Out and her latest challenge - a 100 mile charity trek across the Sahara - Linda packs in a lot. “I live life to the full; we have a very, very short time here, and I want to make the most of it.”

Article published in Konect May 2019

Author: Helen-Jane Shearer

#Business #DYW #chamberofcommerce #Charity #HelenJaneShearer

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