Growing up in East Kilbride, Stuart Maitland’s ambition was to cook. As the only thing he was “really, really good at”, he set himself on a course that looked destined for a career in a professional kitchen.
But just a few short years later – and now based out of London – Maitland is pursuing very different ambitions. Having recently stepped down as one of the youngest chairmen in the Young Enterprise charity network, he is currently completing an honours degree in business management while simultaneously seeking to expand his eponymous group of nascent business interests.
The goal, he says, is to build a brand like that of Virgin. About the only thing it has in common with his earlier culinary ambitions are the unsociable hours demanded of both cooks and entrepreneurs, but at the age of 23 Maitland seems equipped to handle it.
“I usually go to bed around 2am, then wake up about 4.30 to five in the morning,” he says. “I go to the gym or for a run – as an entrepreneur I am very conscious about the importance of my health – and then I catch up on the news and my emails before setting out my schedule for the day.”
Few would relish this sleeping pattern, but Maitland has become accustomed through the years to operating on minimal downtime. An avowed workaholic, he got his first job at the age of 14 through work experience while at Calderglen High School.
He started out in the pie stall at Hamilton Academical Football Club, and was soon promoted to a team leader position.
He moved on from school to a professional cooking course at South Lanarkshire College, and at the same time worked his way into the hotel trade with jobs at One Devonshire Gardens and the Glasgow Hilton.
He finished his course at South Lanarkshire on 17 June 2011 and flew out the same day to London, where he had secured a place at the Westminster Kingsway Culinary College. He supported himself by working as a night butler at the Savoy, serving guests from 11pm to 7.30 am, before grabbing a few hours’ sleep and then taking up his daytime studies. But by that time he was coming to the realisation that his dream of being a chef was perhaps not the right choice.
“It changed when I got a taste of the real world of cooking,” he explains. “It was just one of those things where you knew it wasn’t quite right.”
Meanwhile, Maitland also got involved with Young Enterprise – the UK-wide network dedicated to building the business skills of young people – after setting up a business as part of the scheme’s Company Programme initiative. The business, an app to help people choose food to suit their mood, eventually fizzled out but the judges were so impressed with Maitland that they asked him to join the board of directors for Young Enterprise Central North London.
He took over as chair in early 2014 at the age of 20, a voluntary post overseeing 17 board members which he kept until stepping down in 2015 to concentrate on his own business ventures. The Maitland Group was established that same year.
It currently includes a property division with nine buy-to-let homes, and Maitland aims to expand that to 500 properties within the next five years. Alongside this, there is a small property management and development arm.
The other part of the group is what Maitland describes as “everything that has to do with me as the brand” – that is, his work in public speaking and his recently-published book, From Working Class to Business Class. This division is also setting up a mentoring programme set to bring 30 new jobs to Glasgow.
From offices in Buchanan Street, Maitland intends to run a series of events to bring entrepreneurs such as Charlie Mullins and Levi Roots up to Scotland to help inspire the next generation of business impresarios. This, alongside new hires in London, is expected to lift employee numbers at Maitland Group from six to nearly 50 this year.
He hopes to hold his first Scottish event before the end of the year, and will also be recruiting participants for a 12-month mentoring scheme that aims to attract an initial cohort of 20 from across the UK.
“I live in London now, but Glasgow is my home, so it is only natural that I would come back here when it was time to expand,” he says. “It’s really exciting to be setting up a business here.”
30 SECOND CV
Born: 1993, Glasgow.
Raised: East Kilbride.
Education: Calderglen High School; South Lanarkshire College; Westminster Kingsway College.
Ambition at School: I always wanted to cook.
First job: Selling pies at Hamilton Accies football ground.
Can’t live without: The two most important things to me are health and education.
Kindle or book: Holding a book just seems more real.
Preferred mode of transport: I always try to take as much public transport as I possibly can.
What makes you angry: People who don’t have the same mindset as me about work, especially among senior staff.
What inspires you: When you surround yourself with the best – great entrepreneurs – and you aspire to be like them.
Best thing about your job: Everything.