Blog: David Patterson, Principal and Chief Executive Officer

Astronaut, sports star, or singer: our Principal, David, has always been ambitious but following his parents’ footsteps into education turned out to be much more exciting!

Can you tell us a little about yourself and your career progression?

Hello! I’m David Patterson, Principal and Chief Executive Officer here at Moray College UHI. When I was growing up I wanted to be an astronaut, an international sports star and the lead singer in a band. Luckily being a college principal is just as demanding as any of those roles, and even more exciting! In terms of my career progression, my mum taught in a secondary school (the one they use to film ‘Derry Girls’) and my dad was a lecturer in Belfast Tech. I swore I’d never join the family business. Just shows how wrong you can be. I offered one day to do a couple of hours teaching for my local college and was hooked forever. Never say ‘never’!

Describe a typical day in your line of work?

There is no typical day, especially these days, but I’m definitely typically spending too much time talking to or listening to a laptop screen. I seem to be living in a wall-to-wall world of virtual reality meetings.

What key skills do you require to do your job effectively?

Mostly, the skill to able to see the wood for the trees. Every week is full of tasks that have to be dealt with, but the trick is to keep your focus on the big picture and what we are trying to become and achieve.

What is the best thing about our courses and studying with us?

Without doubt, the best thing is the great positive impact it has on our students, and the incredibly high level of support they get from our staff. We just accept that as ‘normal’, but actually it’s above and beyond a lot of what I’ve seen in my career.

What is the best part of your job?

Graduation Day! It’s great to see and meet so many people with such great stories to tell about how the college has helped them move forward in their lives. And our Head Chef Bob’s chocolate strawberries go down a treat too! Although we are disappointed to not be holding our usual Graduation ceremony this year, we are looking forward to highlighting our students' achievements in September and holding some special events in 2021 when it is safe to do so.

What do you think makes us different to other colleges and universities?

I think we’re different because we’re both a college and a university – we’re a one-stop shop to take you on your learning journey whether you have no qualifications at all, every qualification under the sun, or are somewhere in between. Also, we’re small enough as a college for you to feel that you really belong here, and big enough as a university to know that the world is your oyster.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

It sounds corny, but I like learning. Could be learning a language, or learning how to turn my collection of Moray sunset pics into an e-book. Just doing new stuff really. Learning what my kids are all up to also takes up a lot of my time…

What is your favourite meal?

Any meal that starts with Baba Ganoush and ends with Strawberries is a favourite with me.

If you were a superhero, what type of powers would you have?

I’d be a “mirror-man” with the power to let people see how valued they are so they can be confident in themselves and confident that they can do great stuff.

What is your favourite song?

So many songs for so many situations… but today it’s probably Norrie MacIver’s Hold Your Breath. Such a beautiful song! First heard it and him in Inchberry Hall.

What is the best advice you ever received and who was it from?

“Carefully gather all the facts, figures and opinions together, and then listen to what your gut is telling you”. That one came from my stomach.

What advice do you have for our students?

Enjoy your time with us, but don’t waste it. Get every last bit of skills, knowledge and learning out of your lecturers, and value and learn from the people you are studying with. This is a unique time in your life. Treasure it, and use it wisely.

Whether you're leaving school, returning to education or looking for a career change, we’re here for you! Our blended learning lets you study full time, part time or completely online to fit around your work and life commitments. This September is the ideal time to study on your doorstep.  Find your future here.