Sweet Success

Grant Reid

Kincardine-born Grant Reid is Chair of the Sustainable Markets Initiative (SMI) Agribusiness Taskforce; Board Member, Marriott International; a Private Equity Partner; and former CEO of Mars Incorporated. 

“Since studying at the University, I’ve long held a close affinity with this great institution. I’m so proud to be commended with an honorary doctorate recognising the positive impact I’ve had in business, particularly the 30 years or more that I committed to helping Mars grow, with over eight years as its CEO.”

Grant graduated from Stirling in 1982 with an honours degree in management economics followed by marketing qualifications from the Chartered Institute of Marketing. Until the end of 2022, Grant served as CEO at Mars, leading a substantial portfolio, talent, sustainability, and digital transformation agenda. As of the end of 2022, with operations in more than 80 countries, 140,000 Associates and net sales of well over $45 billion; Mars has a significant economic, environmental, and social footprint serving billions of consumers and their pets. Grant twinned an ambitious growth programme that saw sales grow by over 50% with a bold leadership agenda on value creation, climate action and sustainability. 

Grant is a family man, married to Jennifer with two children, Cameron and Charlotte. He is a classic car enthusiast with a love of dogs, Scottish rugby and judo. In 2022 he established the Reid Family Foundation providing scholarships for Stirling students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Grant and his family are passionate about supporting the next generation of students, particularly those with potential but not necessarily the means to undertake study.

We sat down with Grant to find out more about his time at Stirling and advice for the next generation of leaders: 

Why did you choose Stirling to study:

Three important words spring to mind – teaching, facilities and culture. The high quality of teaching combined with a very flexible programme to try different subjects provided a terrific learning platform. This was enhanced by tremendous facilities for academics and leisure, with a strong family-like culture, within a campus set in an idyllic location. With all of this it was clear that Stirling was a University on the rise and indeed, it has gone from strength to strength. If I could have bought stock in Stirling back then, I would have done very well!  

Fondest memory on campus: 

Seeing the pride on my parents’ faces on graduation day as they strolled around the campus. It was a beautiful sunny day and a really lovely memory – of them, of Stirling, and of a special day. 

Best teacher/staff member:

There were many superb faculty members who patiently opened my mind to so many new concepts.  However, I recently found my Honours Dissertation on Keynesian Economics, from April 1982 and I quote: “I am indebted to Sheila C. Dow.  Without her helpful comments and invaluable contributions this paper could not have been written.”  I understand Sheila is now Emeritus Professor in Economics at Stirling today, but back then we were both early on our journeys. Thank you, Sheila for your empathy and for making a difference.    

Key piece of learning that has remained with you:

At a general level, the need to be curious, rigorous, and communicate with clarity. That ethos has helped me tremendously.  More specifically I found Decision Tree Analysis for calculating Expected Monetary Value (EMV) a wonderful tool in thinking about business and life! It sounds boring – but it’s great! 

What did you want to be when you were young:

Easy – A famous Scottish racing driver like my heroes Jim Clark, and Jackie Stewart.  I cried when Jim Clark was tragically killed at Hockenheim when I was nine years old.  I visited the site a few years ago and it was a very special moment for me all those years later.  

Favourite hobby:

Until recently, mixed martial arts – now I love strength and conditioning training, and historic car racing.  

A surprising fact:

I did some really interesting jobs while studying at Stirling.  I made glass bottles at Alloa Glass Works, I was a brick layer’s labourer building house extensions, and I was a painter on Kincardine Bridge - painting girders well above the river and road! 

Advice for future students:

First choose Stirling!  When you graduate find a role that has a purpose – that resonates with you and makes a difference.  When your passion and purpose align you can bring your best ‘you’ to work every day.  Then you can push yourself to be brilliant at whatever it is you choose to do. 

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