Stuart McMillan

Personal Profile

My Story in Tech

Ever since I can remember, I've enjoyed taking things apart, fixing them and putting them back together better than they were. I can remember disassembling the family toaster at a young age. There may have been parts left over. I enjoy fixing things, improving things, understanding how they work.

I was first introduced to computers in primary school (back in the 80's), and took to them pretty quickly. In fact, I remember being asked by another teacher to try and fix something. While all my classmates were playing console games, I was writing games and other programmes. Partly because I was (and still am) particularly poor at playing computer games. Unfortunatley when it came to leaving school and going to university, I decided not to go in to computing. A bad choice, looking back, but back then in rural Scotland there wasn't much exposure to computers and their potential. I just wasn't aware of the career choices open to me in computing at that time, this was before the World Wide Web really got going.

I got a bit lost at university, didn't really know what I wanted to do, so fell in to retail. But soon technology came calling.

I was working for a small outdoor shop in Edinburgh, and we wanted to launch something called an "ecommerce website". We tasked an external agency to build a platform, and off we went. I didn't have much to do with technology, just the running of the site. But then we had a new challenge. We expanded the number of shops and needed to manage all the sales and inventory. So I learned to code in PHP, learned SQL, learned how to set up an Apache server and built an application that would ingest the sales from all shops, and centralise it. There was then a web interface for managing stock and analysing sales. I then deployed some handheld devices with a web browser and a barcode scanner. I had built a web app that could be used to scan in stock and run stocktakes. I then allowed another retailer to use the software and suddenly I had a client!

I decided web development was for me.

As I progressed through various roles and increased my experience, I became increasingly focused on the business of ecommerce. How to make website more effective, improving the user journey, improving the processes, improving the data upon which decisions are based. And most importantly building teams to deliver those improvements.

This is the essence of my skillset. I really know how effective websites work and how to develop a team to deliver continuing improvement. Improvement to the user journey, increasing sales and profit.

Outside of Work

My family and I live in the beautiful village of Limekilns, in Fife. It's on the Forth and coming home feels like I've arrived on holiday.

Outside of work, I'll usually be engaged in one of three broad topics:

1. Outdoor activities. I walk, climb, ski, cycle and more recently, run. I plan to write a bit more about my journey to becoming a runner in my blog.

2. DIY. I will turn my hand to most DIY projects, whether they be wood, metal, electrical or plumbing based. Have even been known to pick up a paint brush. Five years ago we embarked on my biggest project to-date, adding a substantial extension to the house, which is about 95% done. I'd like to add blacksmithing to my list of hobbies. At the start of the pandemic, I built a pizza oven. Expect to hear a lot more about that! Currently building an oak bench for the front of the house, pictures to follow.

3. Running after my two kids, Iona (almost 8) and Murdo (4.5).

I'm also trying to learn to play the fiddle, but don't expect to hear much about that!