FRASER WATSON – MAINLINE

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As a classically trained musician with a degree from Newcastle University, you might expect to hear on Radio3. So how did he arrive at Mainline Digital Communications as Sales and Marketing Director? 
He’s multi-talented for a start. “At school at Birkenhead I was a keen rugby player and was selected for England Schools as an under 15 and under 18 sprinter and high jumper. It’s a talent inherited from my mother who was also an England athlete.
“My mother was also a keen musician: I started piano lessons at around four and added the trombone at nine. I played in the Merseyside Youth Orchestra and toured with it to Czechoslovakia shortly before the Velvet Revolution. The security services kept a close eye on us but capitalist economics won out when I was able to sell a pair of trainers for five times their UK value on the grey market and so pay for all my homecoming presents!”
Fraser’s father, a Scot from Lanark, worked abroad for an engineering company when Fraser was younger and so there were fun school holiday visits to join him in Africa and the Middle East. “I was pretty well travelled before I went to university.”
His course had practical advantages. “I made a great deal more money as a student than I did in my first job. I had always been a jazz fan – my parents used to pay for jazz lessons on a strict one for one basis with my classical ones. Apart from well-paid performances with brass bands, I was in a jazz group and a big band rock ensemble. We played student balls from Edinburgh to Plymouth travelling in our own mini bus.”
On graduating in 1994, he headed for the City but brokers weren’t turned on by a music degree offered by someone with no City connections.” I eventually joined GNI as a runner on LIFFE, passed my broker’s exams and found that promised rewards didn’t materialise. So I left London and came back north.
 “It was a good move. I joined the Aldi discount supermarket group as a store manager in 1996, progressed to Area Manager for Manchester and Liverpool and learned a great deal about retailing. After three years I moved to Iceland as Senior Area Manager and, at 25, was the youngest in the country.
“Two and a half years later, I was approached by the Caudwell Group where I had four hugely enjoyable years with Singlepoint and Phones4U. I became an Associate Director and look back on my time there fondly.
I joined Mainline last year. It’s the kind of company I like. We work together as a team, there is no political in fighting and we operate on a scale where you can touch what you control. It’s ideal.”
Fraser met his wife, Alex, who is a Project Manager at another network, when they were both at Singlepoint. On 13th March their family grew when their daughter, Freyer was born. “We live in a village close to Nantwich in a house that could have featured on a TV DIY programme. We’ve undertaken a massive reconstruction project, which is well under way to completion. I’ve done my bit – I’m quite a handy carpenter and in another life I might have been a musical cabinet-maker.
“I’m also planning to get a piano and take up playing seriously once more. A baby grand would be tempting but I must confess that I’m impressed by the tone of the top end Yamaha electronic models.”
A recent sporting enthusiasm has led to embarrassment. “With my father and brotherin- law I’m part owner of a racing car built for hill climbs. We got it last year and I’m looking forward to this summer’s racing. The one snag – I was too wide to fit the car. No amount of shoehorning could get me in so we’ve had to widen the cage. It takes some living down.”
He works hard and plays hard. “It is a pressure business but our corporate culture is rewarding and makes any success we achieve all the more satisfying.
  • TRACK RECORD
    1991-1994 – Classical Music degree, Newcastle University
    1994-1995 – With GNI on LIFFE
    1996-1998 – Store and Area Manager, Aldi
    1998-2001 – Senior Area Manager, Iceland
    2001-2005 – Caudwell Group. Head of Sales, Singlepoint. Associate Director, Phones 4U
    2005 – Sales and Marketing Director, Mainline Digital Communications