Alumni Services

Jimmy Gordon

Law graduate Jimmy Gordon traces the challenges and opportunities he's embraced over the decades, starting with anecdotes about politics, papers and prams as a student parent in the sixties.


James Sim Gordon (better known as Jimmy)

Degree  LLB Law
Year of Graduation 1967

Your time at the University

Jimmy Gordon writing on a filpchart

In Autumn 1963 I arrived in Edinburgh fresh from Lossiemouth and Gordonstoun Schools with an ambition to make the most of university, the city and extra-curricular opportunities! I did all of that with great gusto.

Apart from brilliant lectures by Professors like TB Smith (Civil Law) & JDB Mitchell (Constitutional) I found it hard to get engaged with some of the core syllabus. In fact by second year I realised that it was unlikely that I would pursue a legal career. But the discipline and content provided a great grounding for life and there was so much to learn from bright fellow students. Edinburgh itself was a joy; you could walk everywhere in a truly beautiful city.

My initial passion for cross country running was soon squashed by Friday night parties but there was much opportunity for writing; politics (student, local and national); charity work and campaigning. It was also the place to develop lifelong friendships; many of which began over pies and pints in the Lothian Bar on Friday lunch-time prior to afternoon lectures!

In my third year my new wife (Celia) and I had a baby son (Patrick); I chaired Pentlands Young Conservatives and stood for Edinburgh Council; wrote articles for the Scotsman. Most importantly I had the opportunity to edit Student and win the Glasgow Herald Award for the best student paper. I was lucky to work with a committed and talented team who included Duncan Campbell, Robin Cook and others – all of whom went on to successful careers. One of my highlights was pushing Patrick in his pram late at night from the Student office in Buccleuch Street to our Thistle Street flat!

Your experiences since leaving the University

During my final term I had signed up to join the Scotsman as a graduate trainee. However I accepted a suggestion by the University Appointments Board to attend a couple of interviews with advertising agencies in London. As a result of these I moved with my family to London and joined the world of “Mad Men”.

It was a stimulating but not particularly satisfying life. So I took a big cut in wages and became the first Appeals & Publicity Director for NACRO (National Association for the Care & Resettlement of Offenders). If that wasn’t challenging enough, I was then invited to become National Youth Director of the Conservative Party with the aim of making the Party more attractive to young people and forge links with the growing number of single issue campaigning groups.

After that I was unemployable! I worked briefly in a communications consultancy before setting up Gordon Coote Associates. For around 20 years we trained clever people in how to deal with human beings; accountants, lawyers and over time global clients including Deloitte, Disney and Honeywell.

In 2002 I became a director of IDG (Inspirational Development Group) where we worked with countries, corporations and enterprises to enhance leadership capability; build high performing teams and create sustainable behavioural change. Over the past decade I have had the opportunity to travel widely working in the US, Europe, Middle East (particularly in Jordan), India, Hong Kong and China.

In 2020, aged 75 I am now “semi-retired” although Covid-19 is making “semi” redundant!

I am now planning to write my book! 

Over the past decade I have had the opportunity to travel widely working in the US, Europe, Middle East (particularly in Jordan), India, Hong Kong and China.

Jimmy Gordon

Alumni wisdom

For me, university provided the opportunity to live the Gordonstoun motto – “Plus est en vous” (there’s more in you than you think). It gives you the chance to develop your talents and make a real contribution to the various communities to which you belong.

It also introduces you to friends for life (people like Malcolm Rifkind, Eddie Torgbor and Duncan whom I met during my first days in Edinburgh).

Life is what you make it – Edinburgh provides the potential for you to grow; take it!

Related links

Jimmy Gordon on LinkedIn (external link)