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'My parents always gave me a lot of encouragement'

Q&A

Published 27/09/2016

This Week: Brian Donaldson

Q: What's the best piece of business (or life) advice you've ever been given?

A: Treat people as you would like to be treated - with respect and dignity.

Q: What piece of advice would you pass on to someone starting out in business?

A: Do your homework and have a well thought out plan that gives you a real point of difference to others.

Q: What was your best business decision?

A: Over 30 years there are many that I am proud of, but, if I had to choose it's our strategic alliance with The Henderson Group in Northern Ireland, a result of our buying the Esso retail network in 2005.

Q: If you weren't doing this job, what would be your other career?

A: I have always enjoyed the outdoor life and coming from a family that has deep roots in farming, it would have to be just that, an arable farmer.

Q: What was your last holiday? Where next?

A: We are fortunate to own an apartment in Portugal, so that's where we have been going for the last couple of years and for the foreseeable future.

Q: What are your hobbies/interest?

A: It's hard to find time for sport but I like the occasional round of golf, watching rugby with Ulster and Ireland and my green fingers in the garden.

Q: What is your favourite sport and team?

A: I enjoy all sport, but it would have to be golf. My favourite team is Ulster Rugby, closely followed by Manchester United.

Q: And have you ever played any sports?

A: My late dad started my brother and I at golf at Mahee Island when we were young and we got down to single handicaps for a short time. Sadly, it's well into double digits today.

Q: If you enjoy reading, can you recommend a book?

A: I am not a great reader of books, unless on holiday. My favourite read is Predator, by Wilbur Smith. I have read most of his books over the years.

Q: How would you describe your early life?

A: I came from a very happy home and my mum and dad were always very supportive and encouraging of whatever I did along with my brother Michael and sister Linda, both of whom I am very proud of. I was a member of the Newtownards Young Farmers Club, a great way to meet people and socialise into the wee hours of the morning.

Q: Have you any economic predictions?

A: Brexit has brought the unknown, which the financial markets and business do not welcome. Let's focus on the positive though and put our trust in our leaders at Stormont to do the right thing for the economy.

Q: How do you sum up working in your sector?

A: There is not one day that I don't want to come to work. Our sector has always been interesting and what appear as challenges are indeed opportunities to do things differently and to challenge your present thinking. To be successful - and what has been our strength over the last 100 years in the safe hands of the McMullan family - is our ability to be agile and adapt our offer quickly.

Belfast Telegraph

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