Robert B. Creighton MBE
Bob is the President of Scots in New England and is committed to the spirit of collaboration that underpins the organization. He is President of University Innovations Global Inc., an international business development alliance working in some of the world’s most exciting and challenging markets. Bob was made an MBE by Queen Elizabeth ll in 2021 for services to US and UK relations. He and his wife Hilary live in Connecticut. They have six children and one occasional dog.
Q: Where are you from in Scotland?
A: I was born in Glasgow in the Rottenrow Hospital near the city center. The Rottenrow is one of eight streets that formed the medieval burgh of Glasgow. The hospital has gone but the street and the old archway to the hospital are now part of the University of Strathclyde campus.
Q: Can you share what event brought you to the U.S. and how long you have been here?
A: I’ve lived in the US now for 35 years. In my early career, I had been doing a lot of international development work for different organizations in Scotland and decided it was time to get some hands-on experience working overseas. My original intention had been to come to the US for a year. That first year became five and before you know it, thirty-five years have elapsed.
Q: What do you most miss about Scotland? Anything that you have not been able to replicate in the U.S.?
A: That is such a hard question and my answer will depend on where my head is at the time. I have a particular love of fly fishing late into the summer evenings on South Uist where one of my brothers and his wife have a croft. That is such a magical place. With the Internet, staying connected with family and friends is so much easier than it was when I first arrived. That has been incredibly helpful but, as we all found during Covid, it is no substitute for personal contact. I do miss the people and the sense of humor. Oh – and despite my wife Hilary’s efforts to change my eating habits – I really do miss a good pie and beans and a Glasgow curry.
Q: Could you expand on your current role and why you enjoy it?
A: In my day job at UI Global (www.ui-global.com), I work with a wonderful team of international development specialists, located in some of the world’s leading business centers. We collaborate with universities, development agencies, enterprise hubs, and entrepreneurs to commercialize innovations and create sustainable businesses.
In the voluntary field, I’ve been very involved with various Scottish initiatives over the years. I’ve been a GlobalScot since the organization was first launched and I’m proud to be actively involved in one way or another with two of New England’s finest voluntary organizations: NHSCOT (delivering the very best highland games in the world and so much more) and Scots in New England. They are both very close to my heart.
In our commercial and voluntary activities, I believe we are making a difference. Small improvements perhaps but a difference nonetheless. That is very rewarding.
Q: Did you choose New England or did it choose you?
A: I’d like to say it was planned but the reality is that my first destination in the US was Chicago before moving to Connecticut three years later for work reasons. Although the initial move to the northeast was not planned, the decision to stay in the region has been a very conscious decision. My family and I love the area and everything that it has to offer. It is also a great base (in terms of time difference) for working with Europe and traveling back and forth.
Q: Looking back in time, are there any decisions you made that in hindsight you now view as defining moments in your career?
A: Absolutely. Coming to America and staying here completely changed the way my life would have played out had I remained in Scotland. I regret missing certain things, not least the opportunity to spend more time with my parents and immediate family. My parents have passed now but most of my family still live in Scotland. On balance though, it was the right move for me.
Q: What one piece of advice would you give to entrepreneurs in Scotland contemplating establishing a business in New England?
A: New England is a great first-base location for accessing US markets. Please do come here and please don’t be shy about asking for help. There are many organizations and networks in New England to help Scottish entrepreneurs coming here for the first time.
Whatever your interest – whether it is in business, education, culture, the creative industries, or some of the more traditional pursuits – there are people here who are very happy to help you. We’ll point you in the right direction. Just ask.
Q: What message would you give to New Englanders thinking of expanding into Europe?
A: Over the years, many of us here in New England have worked with different US companies that have gone on to establish their first European base in Scotland. We have some excellent resources in the region to help including a local Scottish Development International office, a British Consul General Boston office, a well-established GlobalScot network, and a wealth of experience across Scots in New England.