12 years after starting in Tomatin Distillery Co’s accounts team, Robert Anderson took the helm, and some seven years later he’s still planning 20 years ahead…
Describe your role in no more than 100 words
As CEO for the company, my role is to oversee the implementation of our company strategy and lead on change within the business. I endeavour to do this by ensuring we are expertly staffed with a balance of all the requisite skillsets. I constantly question the company’s standing within the industry and marketplace, bringing it into its next stage of development, ensuring that we, as current custodians of the distillery, leave it in a strong position for future generations.
What is it the company does?
We are a producer and blender of Scotch Whisky, distilling and maturing our single malt and blends for distribution on a global scale - our brands are currently exported to over 55 international markets. We also operate a highly successful visitor centre experience and retail store.
Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?
My first job was a financial assistant with a malting company in 1975, I then went into the leisure and timber industries before finally moving to distilling in 1988, when I joined the present company in an accounting role. Following a number of roles within Tomatin, I was appointed as CEO in 2010.
What do you believe makes a great leader?
A great leader will be an individual who recognises excellence in their team in order to achieve great results for the company, customers, suppliers, staff and their families.
What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?
Undoubtedly cutting unnecessary costs, introducing innovative and environmentally friendly production processes and preventing the hemorrhaging of cash from the business by managing our long term stock position. In our industry we can’t afford to just consider the near future, we are always looking at 10, 15, even 20 years ahead to guarantee stock availability without flooding the market.
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
By constantly questioning everything. If I can justify the direction of travel and acknowledge the strength of the team’s dedication and contribution, I can rest easy!
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
More than anything I wanted to be multilingual! As it turns out I can speak German, French and, as result of working with our Japanese owners I can speak some Japanese too.
Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about then?
My biggest pet hate is the growing reliance on email as a sole means of communicating. Pick up the phone, speak in person.
Where do you see the company in five years time?
Tomatin will undoubtedly be a larger brand with greater international recognition. We will have continued to push our boundaries with our brand portfolio and have moved ever closer to our aim of establishing ourselves within the top 20 best selling single malt whiskies in the world. We want to keep winning awards such as the ‘Best Drink Award’ at last year’s Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Awards help to build our reputation locally, nationally and internationally.
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
By all means bring all your experience to the table, but recognise brilliance in others that you may never accomplish yourself.