Paul Walker

Name: Paul Walker
Job: Convenor of the Standards Commission for Scotland
Industry: Law & Public Sector
Class of: 1978
House: Moore

What do you do?

I am a semi-retired consultant, practiced committee-sitter, a CEDR Accredited Mediator, as well as an experienced determiner in judicial and quasi-judicial roles. 

How did you get to where you are today?

How I got here is more career crazy-paving than a career path! At the High School I had my heart set on following in former pupil Teddy Taylor MP’s footsteps and was looking towards my own parliamentary career. However, I didn’t move south at the point where my political opinions could have found greater favour, so I involved myself in political research and lobbying, evolving this into paid roles after my undergraduate and post-graduate degrees. Inevitably this led me away from the actual work I enjoyed and into the management of trade association and employer bodies; if with a brief and necessary foray into the commercial world, so as I could gain some missing, real-world experience. 

I later rejected the idea of seeking elected office and further qualified for an intended second career in law. For family reasons, sandwiched between the needs of elderly parents, my young child and my wife’s career, I moved back to Scotland, away from my legal academic work, as well as from opportunities to practice at the Bar of England and Wales, to which I had been called. I started in my regulatory-related work, such as tribunal sitting for property valuation and for professional organisations like the General Teaching Council for Scotland, and also the Standards Commission for Scotland. I was further appointed as the latter’s Chairman/Convenor for my last two years (ending May 2024) of my six-year fixed-term appointment by the Scottish Parliament.  

When turning back on the road to Westminster, and rather late in life, I joined the Royal Naval Reserve. This proved to be an environment in which I thrived and enjoyed every minute of my fourteen years’ service, curtailed only by pressures of family life. 

What is a standout memory of your time at The High School of Glasgow?

Apart from the mandatory wearing of short trousers in Form 1 (Senior School), my main memory of The High School of Glasgow has, alas, to be its politically-motivated closure as a state selective institution and, in consequence, the run down of the once vibrant institution in Elmbank Street, which contributed so much to social mobility in Glasgow, to the life of our City, and to our country, as the Houses, the busts and name boards in the Assembly Hall reminded us daily. 

In this calamity, the High School was of course not alone and, ultimately, thanks to the GHS Club, enjoyed a better fate in passing its name onto Drewsteignton. However the High School, which, many years later, when coerced by my mother (a Glasgow High School for Girls former pupil) finally to attend Prizegiving – to witness ‘her’ (the Thomson/Walker) Public Speaking Prize being awarded –  did, I discovered, transfer its character and “those who follow after, to fill the place I fill” were in place. 

What one piece of advice would you give to current pupils and recent leavers as they look to their futures?

My life advice would be to ponder the life advice you find in many reputable sources, remembering also it is usually by being out with your comfort zone that you are stretched, and that a failure is often a much better tutor than a success.  

Also, to honour your parents’ commitment to you in their doubtless many sacrifices to provide you with your High School experience. Apply yourself diligently to your studies and, with energy, the other opportunities you have to try new things, to offer service to others and to be part of the life of our School. 

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