Big shed shot: A day in the life of Pat McGillycuddy

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As Dubai World seeks a buyer for Gazeley, CEO Pat McGillycuddy takes us through his day

Pat McGillycuddy, 59, is chief executive of distribution developer Gazeley, where he has worked since the company was set up 25 years ago. He lives in Watford with his wife, Margaret

I get up at about 5.30 to 6 am. A couple of days a week, I do a bit of weightlifting and some press-ups before leaving the house at 7.30 am.

Driving into the office in Victoria takes an hour, but it is an extremely valuable hour. It’s the last hour of the working day for our Chinese team and, for the Dubai team, it’s their lunchtime. More often than not, I am on the phone to them, particularly the chief executive and chief financial officer of Economic Zones World, Gazeley’s Dubai-based parent [which last week put the developer up for sale for £400m].

I avoid driving through Kilburn. I would have to compete with my fellow countrymen in their white vans. I was born in Dublin and then moved to Kerry.

I was a builder in Ireland, but I had to close the business because the Irish economy went into hibernation, just as it is doing today.

I came to England in 1982 and did project management jobs, including for Pizza Hut and MFI. Asda took over MFI in 1987 and formed a group property function called Gazeley.

In 1988, we started doing “big box” distribution, and we separated from Asda in 1994. Former Gazeley chairman John Duggan was inspirational.
He introduced partnering to our construction activity, fast-track building and sustainability.

We are the world’s oldest logistics developer.

The company will be 25 years old in May, but I have never wanted to move on. I have always felt like I was moving on in what I was doing.

When I arrive at the office, I chat with colleagues in France, Spain, Germany and Italy before 10 am, more often than not about a particular deal. Then until lunch it is internal meetings about business plans, strategies, asset reviews — that kind of thing. I’m not one for two-hour lunches outside the office. It’s usually a sandwich combined with meetings.

My afternoon is quite often taken up with calls with customers, our partners and landowners. The calls aren’t necessarily about dealing with a particular project. I like to maintain relationships, so that if there is a concern our customers have a channel straight through to me. We have meetings and video conferences, but I also like to have some thinking time.

One of my passions is to help people be all they can be. We are focusing on personal development, so I do things such as work with the human resources team on designing courses for the year.

I’m not great at post-work socialising. I usually leave at about 6 pm and I like to spend time with my wife. I missed a lot of the growing up of my children because I was working. We have seven: five boys and two girls. The youngest is 30, so they have all left home now, but my wife had to single-handedly raise seven children. These days I try to encourage our young people at Gazeley to get the right work-life balance.


At the weekends I sometimes play a round of golf and my wife has taken it up, too, so we play together. During the summer I play a lot in Ireland, and in the winter I shoot pheasant, duck and woodcock with my five brothers and my sons. Then one of my brothers cooks the game.

The one experience that I am extremely grateful for is my two years in Dubai, when we were integrating the Gazeley and EZW businesses. The culture there is wonderful and people are very hospitable. When we changed the strategy and decided to disintegrate the business, it enabled
me to return to London.

In 2012, Gazeley will probably return to India. There are about eight multinationals asking us to provide the same service there as we do elsewhere. We are looking at it a customer at a time and a project at a time. Although we are optimistic, we are very much aware of the eurozone crisis.

You can position your canoe on the tide, but you can’t change the tide.


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