Duncan was born in Lanark and started his career at HG Stewart in Aberdeen as a trainee surveyor.
He sat his RICS exams prior to going to University to try and further both his surveying and athletics career. Once through university he took up a position with Burns & Partners in Edinburgh specialising in retail agency before moving to London to work with Highland Developments.
He was appointed a Director after two years and went on to develop retail schemes in London, Belfast, Ayr, Glasgow, Loughborough and Edinburgh before setting up Realis Estates in November 2006. He also sits on the board of Comic Enterprises Ltd.
1. What is the key to a successful development?
2. Describe your perfect team for a development.
Myself, Robert, John and Sallyanne working closely with a great team of consultants, which we always seem fortunate enough to gather around us.
3. Describe your favourite development you have delivered
Holywood Exchange, Belfast – After a Public Inquiry, 2 Judicial Reviews, Court of Appeal and a visit to The House of Lords, to see the development completed and to bring IKEA to Belfast was a huge relief and fantastic to see.
4. What is your most inspirational development by another and why?
Forth Railway Bridge – How did they manage to develop such an impressive structure all those years ago? An incredible feat of engineering and a symbol of what we can achieve when we put our minds to it. It brings great pride to me as I travel home to Aberdeen every time I see it and it certainly has inspired me to try to develop legacies for local people that they can be proud of.
5. What is your best personal achievement?
Being part of Scotland’s 4X400M relay team that won a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games in Auckland in 1990.
6. What is your favourite past time?
Watching all sport, in particular Aston Villa and trying to continue to keep as fit as possible even though the slope seems to be coming steeper and more slippery as the years go by!
7. What is your favourite quote?
A plaque my father gave me many years ago when I was a wee boy in Aberdeen simply said “Winning Starts With Beginning”. I have thought of those words many times.
8. Which charity do you support and why?
I support two charities, Acorns as I believe the work they do for both the children and their families is exceptional and when you visit one of their hospices you can really see the benefit that the charity delivers.
Secondly, Guide Dogs for the blind. I have sponsored many dogs over the years and it gives me great pleasure to see how incredible these dogs are and the benefits they bring to their owners.
9. Who inspires you and why?
It has to be my daughter Erin. I burst with pride and joy at everything she does and it is just fantastic to see her progress in all aspects of her life.
10. Who’s influenced your career most and why?
It would have to be two people. Firstly, my brother who got me interested in property and has always been there for me as a sounding board over the years and secondly my old boss at Highland Roger Duckworth who gave me every opportunity to blossom and to gain a wide ranging experience at the beginning of my career.
11. What’s the best piece of advice you could give to someone?
To build a great team of people around you, to remain patient and always to remain open minded and impersonal when making any decisions.
12. What is the thing you like best about your work?
I enjoy the fact that every day is different and when you complete a development you can see the pleasure it brings to the people who use it.
13. What’s on your desk?
My computer of course, many pictures of my daughter and my trusty calculator that I hope will show that a scheme can make a profit.
14. What’s your favourite holiday destination?
Further afield it has to be Cape Town and the surrounding area, but closer to home, nothing beats a trip to the Algarve in Portugal.
15. What’s your favourite gadget?
My new GPS Adidas watch with music player and wireless headphones. However, it doesn’t make me run any quicker!