IT was a case of two lords for the price of one on yesterday’s Go Radio Business Show as Lord Malcolm Offord of Garvel, the UK’s Minister for Exports, joined hosts Lord Willie Haughey and Sir Tom Hunter to chat about his business journey and current role.

Lord Offord, a Scottish businessman who was appointed a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State to the Scotland Office in October 2021 then a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Department of Business and Trade on in April last year, grew up in Greenock before embarking on an illustrious career in London after graduating with a law degree from the University of Edinburgh.

“I went to the bus station with one suitcase, my rugby kit and a £2,000 overdraft,” he recalled, ahead of starting a job in October 1987. That was with Lazard & Co, the investment bank, with Lord Offord the first-ever employee who had attend a comprehensive school – Greenock Academy.

Asked about his life in London, which saw him also work for private equity investment firm Charterhouse and play rugby for London Scottish, Lord Offord observed: “I was happy in London because it was full of Scots – you were welcomed and respected. We were well-educated, hardworking and smart.”

Lord Offord left the City in 2014, returning to Edinburgh where he established his own private equity boutique to invest in Scottish SMEs. He said: “My view was that businesses in a small country like Scotland of only five million people could only thrive if they sell to a much bigger market and the nearest market is the rest of the UK, and if we have a business that exports, we support communities and create jobs selling our products around the world.”

Referring to a recent event in Glasgow he attended to help boost Scottish exporters, he said that from financial technology and life sciences industries to food and drink sector, Scottish businesses have a lot to offer and “pushing the exports agenda for Scottish SMEs” was important.

Admitting that not everyone in business can be successful in politics, he drew parallels between the two but said the approach often has to be different. “Sometimes in politics you have to attack as well as defend and I am not used to the knockabout of that in quite the same way as professional politicians.

“You need the same skills – but it is a different way of presenting. If you are dealing with a problem in business and presenting something to a board you would spend time building your case then provide the background and finish with the solution. In politics, you start with punchline and say ‘here is what you have to do’ then you backfill.”