Sir Paul Grice - Clerk and Chief Executive, The Scottish Parliament

As Clerk and Chief Executive of the Scottish Parliament, Sir Paul Grice leads the Scottish Parliamentary Service which is responsible for delivering all services to the Parliament and its Members, and is the Parliament's principal adviser on procedural and constitutional matters.

After graduation, Paul applied successfully for the Civil Service Fast Stream, was posted to London and began the rotation of posts every 9 -12 months. He worked for the Department of Transport and then the Department of the Environment on bus de-regulation, railways policy and local government finance and subsequently acted as Private Secretary to Virginia Bottomley MP. Paul joined the Scottish Office in 1992, working on housing and urban regeneration policy, then change management. He joined the Constitution Group in May 1997, with responsibility for the Referendum on establishing the Scottish Parliament, and following that, he managed the Scotland Act which laid the new constitutional framework. He was appointed Director of Implementation, setting up parliamentary organisation and associated support systems, prior to being appointed Clerk and Chief Executive of the Parliament in summer 1999.

Paul served as a Member of University Court at Stirling from 2006-13 and as Secretary to Scotland’s Futures Forum from 2005-13. He has been an Honorary Fellow of RIAS since 2006; an Economic and Social Research Council Member since 2009; a Bank of Scotland Foundation Trustee since 2011; and an Edinburgh International Festival Board Member since 2013.

Paul was awarded a Knighthood in the New Year's Honours 2016 for services to the Scottish Parliament and voluntary service to higher education and the community in Scotland.

Paul is the first to admit that learning was not top of his agenda and he left school at 16 with 6 modest O levels. He enrolled on an ordinary national diploma course in building at York College of Arts and Technology to do a broad-based course for people interested in a career in the construction industry. He began to think about further education but realised that an ordinary national diploma was not a traditional route to university. He looked at the Scottish universities and discovered the University of Stirling prospectus. Its proposition was completely different from the others: 2 semesters, an approach grounded in the community, a new university set on a beautiful campus, and so he attended the next Open Day. He was not disappointed. He recalls 'on arrival in Stirling the campus was covered in snow right up to the Dumyat Hills. It was breathtaking and I thought, if nothing else, I would just like to live here for a few years. I found the academics interesting and moreover they were interested in me. Stirling was less concerned about my non-traditional route, however, the academic admissions entry criteria remained rigorous and required attaining 75% across all my subjects. It was a fabulous incentive ... and so I worked hard to earn my place.'

'My dad drove me from home to Stirling (a 500 mile round trip for him) so he had to leave shortly after I'd moved into my room in Murray Hall. I unpacked and remember sitting on my bed wondering what to do. It was 4.00 pm. Then I remembered I'd passed a crude sign 'wine, cheese, 6pm' in the corridor so a couple of hours later I left my room. The wine and cheese as you would expect was cheap and awful but I quickly realised that there was a common bond between me and my new companions - we were all a little nervous, unsure of what to expect, of what came next. Later that evening, in the Union bar, I met one of my best friends to this day.'

'I enjoyed sport and was a frequent user of the Gannochy sports facilities. I played 5-aside football, squash and joined the canoeing and ski clubs. I also joined the Druids Motorcycle Club and took an interest in student politics.'

'I realised early on that whilst nothing had prepared me for the transition from college to university, I would aim to achieve a double honours degree. I also realised that sociology was not for me, I was reasonably good at environmental science but needed to work hard at economics, a subject I enjoyed. Two academics, in particular, helped enormously: Mick Common was both patient and kind in explaining and ensuring I had grasped various economic concepts, whilst Professor Chuck Brown was inspirational having won a large grant to research the impact of taxes on work patterns.'

'I had 4 brilliant years at Stirling. I had to work hard and remember many 'all nighters' to cram for exams but I loved every minute. I was inspired by interesting people, felt proud to be part of a University which was championing such innovation in aquaculture and environmental science, and delivered research which then, as well as now, had a real impact on society. I made life long friends, I partied, I went to the Grange - it was an intense campus experience where I gained confidence in my abilities, developed social skills, and fell in love. I spotted Elaine in an economic tutorial in the first week, finally plucked up the courage to invite her to join me for a game of squash. We have been together ever since, having just celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary.'

'My advice to current students would be to take your studies seriously. It’s important to remember that a university is first and foremost a 'place of learning' and study should be both engaging and challenging. Make sure you are passionate about your course of study; if you find you are not, then change. Get the balance right and take advantage of the student clubs and societies or other extra curricular opportunities - make it a once in a lifetime experience. Today when I visit the campus I still feel part of the University of Stirling, just as I did as a student. And I truly believe that the University has had the biggest impact on my life, providing the opportunity to meet my wife, fulfil my potential in education, and developing lifelong skills which I've used throughout my career.'

Sir Paul Grice
BSc Economics and Environmental Science, 1984