Lanarkshire-born businessman Les Hutchison is a quiet philanthropist. He has a strong belief in “giving something back,” but he does it without fanfare. After secondary school, he joined British Steel as a Technical Electrical Engineer Apprentice at their Clydesdale Works in Bellshill, and the company sponsored him to study at Bell College.
Les, who is currently Vice Chair and a Director of the Canadian energy services company, ShawCor Ltd, left Bell College of Technology with an HNC Electrical Engineering and completed an additional Higher Supplementary Control Systems and Mathematics at the College in 1975.
Over the early stages of his career, Les had built up a strong reputation for turning struggling companies around, and this led to him being headhunted by ShawCor Ltd in 1998. Since joining the company, he has held a number of senior management positions, but his biggest highlight, was working as Vice President of the Shaw Pipeline Services Division. When he was first appointed, the company was losing millions of dollars, but he managed to transform its fortunes to become the group’s biggest earner. When Les joined the company ShawCor’s Group revenue was Canadian $600m (£381m). Its turnover is now Canadian $1.3 billion (£826m).
Throughout his career, Les has always maintained his strong links with Scotland. While he was based in Houston, Texas, he was appointed a GlobalScot by the then First Minister Jack McConnell. Les also became a core founder of the Saltire Foundation. He has established the annual Hutchison Prize for Engineering which awards £5,000 to the best student in the University’s Mechatronics programme; Les is also funding new equipment for the Mechatronics course to the tune of £78,000.
Les is a strong believer in the power of education and the influence it can have on an individual’s future career and on the economic, social and cultural development of Scotland. “Education gives people new skills, and what is vital is that these skills are then used once they enter their chosen profession allowing them to achieve their full potential.”
Les has gifted more than £100,000 to the University of the West of Scotland, and is keen to ensure that his contribution is of direct benefit to students.
Les now lives principally in Barbados, but he retains a strong and passionate commitment to Scotland. Les is the proud grandfather of three grandsons — a seven-year-old and five-year old twins.