Born: October 12, 1928;

Died: April 22, 2020.

DOMINIC Mackay, who has died aged 91, was an inspirational business leader who, having left school at 14, worked in the aviation industry in Canada and the US, and held senior managerial roles in the electronics sector in the UK.

He also became the first non-medical general manager of eight Glasgow hospitals, including the Royal Infirmary and the old Maternity Hospital at Rottenrow.

The only child of a Protestant father, Angus Mackay, and a Catholic mother, Minnie, Dom was born in October 1928. After war broke out in September 1939, he was evacuated from his family’s tenement flat in Tradeston, Glasgow, to a farm in Dundonald, Ayrshire.

The farmer taught this eager sandy-haired city boy how to shoot rabbits and ride Clydesdale horses. After six months however, he accused Dom of firing a gun without his permission. Stung by the false accusation, Dom packed his bag and returned to Glasgow.

Dom left school in 1942 and worked as a ‘gofer’ in a city-centre garage. National Service beckoned in 1946. He joined the Cameronians and to his delight was posted to Gibraltar.

Demobbed, he completed an apprenticeship as an aeronautical engineer with British European Airways at Abbotsinch. In the early 1950s, tired of post-war privation in Glasgow, he headed to Toronto with a cousin and two friends. There, he quickly found a job with an aviation company, Avro Canada. Life for him was sweet.

It got even better when, in the summer of 1954, he met Sheila Martin, a 19-year-old secretary from London, at a YMCA dance. It was her third weekend in Canada. By the end of the year, they had married.

Two children quickly followed before Avro’s Arrow Project took the family to the US Naval Missile Test Centre at Point Mugu, California. Before the Arrow could enter military service, however, the project was controversially scrapped by a newly-elected Conservative Canadian government. Fifteen thousand people lost their jobs. As a shop steward, Dom played a key role in getting the best deal possible for the workforce.

With a growing family, Dom and Sheila decided to relocate to the UK. Back in Scotland, he began working Honeywell in Motherwell. In December 1974, he became manufacturing manager of Pye Telecommunications in Airdrie. The company then became part of Dutch electronics giant Philips.

Dom worked for Philips for 10 years, rising to become managing director of Philips TMC (Telephone Manufacturing Company). In 1986, he hatched an audacious plan to move hundreds of jobs from Philips’ UK headquarters in Malmesbury, Wiltshire, to a vacant site in Bishopbriggs.

His plan brought R&D under the same roof as manufacturing, reducing the duplication of processes and increasing efficiency. This was the height of the Thatcher years. Tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs had been lost in Scotland by then so the prospect of inward investment was warmly welcomed in Scotland, though the plan was less enthusiastically received in Wiltshire. A growing sense of disillusionment led him to seek pastures new; a spell in management consultancy for the Scottish Development Agency followed.

Noticed for his work with likes of city regeneration organisation Glasgow Action, he was headhunted for a new role as Unit General Manager at Greater Glasgow Health Board.

His five years there, the most rewarding of his working life, coincided with a rapid period of change in the NHS. Scotland’s first heart transplant programme began at Glasgow Royal Infirmary; IVF was in its early days. Needle exchange initiatives were established in response to concern over HIV infection among injecting drug users and a ward at Rottenrow was dedicated to the care of drug-addicted pregnant women and nursing mothers.

The role was not without its challenges, but nothing dimmed Dom’s enthusiasm for the NHS. In retirement after 1992, he put this experience to good use as chair of the board of St Francis Nursing Home, Govan (where his mother died in 1995), persuading a reluctant Archbishop that a modern fit-for-purpose building was essential. He helped secure funding and oversaw the governance of the new build.

Dom’s sense of fighting unfairness and injustice remained a constant. In later life, while driving through Ayrshire with Sheila, he spotted the farm to which he had been evacuated in 1939. Despite Sheila’s attempts to stop him, he knocked on the door. The farmer who had once accused him of firing a gun without permission was still alive. Dom introduced himself and after a polite chat, assured him that he had not fired the gun.

Dom was happiest surrounded by his family. He had a sharp, analytical mind and, a voracious reader of history books, his views on current affairs were informed by the lessons of the past. He used these skills to wicked effect during family dinners. When someone took the bait and a heated debate ensued – his plan all along – he would wink conspiratorially at the others.

Dom considered a strong and happy marriage and a large close family to be his greatest legacy. He is survived by Sheila, their seven children and partners, 17 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Judith Mackay and Jan Mackay