As a partner and head of energy for national law firm McGrigors, Bob Ruddiman is regarded as one of the UK’s leading experts in his field.
After graduating in law from Aberdeen University and qualifying as a lawyer with Shepherd and Wedderburn in Edinburgh, it was working on the highly complex privatisation of ScottishPower in the early 90s which fuelled his interest in energy.
A spell in-house with French multinational Elf’s legal department in Aberdeen and London, with regular trips to Paris, honed his skills in the acquisition and disposal of oil and gas assets.
Then a job offer from Cameron Markby Hewitt – which subsequently became part of Cameron McKenna – brought him back to the Granite City in 1993.
He then played a major role in developing the oil and gas team at Ledingham Chalmers over 10 years until 2006 when he and 50 other staff joined McGrigors in a demerger from Ledingham Chalmers.
He says it is a source of pride that his former firm has continued to do well.
McGrigors has 700 staff, including 55 in Aberdeen, where it has a reputation for strength not only in energy but in real estate, housebuilding, employment and corporate law.
The firm’s other offices are in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Manchester, Belfast and the Falklands, with London its biggest office.
The oil and gas team has 12 staff in Aberdeen and 40 overall in pure upstream oil and gas roles at various locations.
Members of the firm’s corporate law team will also become involved regularly with oil and gas clients.
As head of energy, Mr Ruddiman is well placed to give an overview of how Aberdeen businesses will survive – or possibly thrive – in the years ahead.
He said: “Last year, the world was hit by the credit crunch and nobody can predict what is going to happen from here in.
“Many in the oil and gas sector thought they were not directly affected but in the past four months we have seen the real impact of liquidity issues, highlighted recently with Oilexco North Sea going into administration.
“This is indicative of lack of funding and the horrible coincidence of the oil price collapse from a high of $147 a barrel down to the high $30s in less than a year.
“My own view is that there will be a correction of the oil price upwards, although it’s not going to go anywhere near the previous levels.
“But we now have a real dichotomy: the companies that either have cash or committed funding could do extremely well out of this but we are going to see more casualties among companies that did not get their funding in place or don’t have the working capital to see them through the leaner times.
“For those companies that are well funded or cash rich, there will be some tremendous buying opportunities and as a result there will be some consolidation and it could be a bit of a free-for-all.”
Mr Ruddiman believes that, while the traditional energy industry faces up to rigorous challenges, the present conditions offer opportunities for those working in renewables.
He said: “The UK Government talks about job creation through boosting the renewable sector and wants to meet ambitious European targets. While they no doubt will face some of the same funding issues we might see progress in renewables through well funded utilities and a supply chain which is more focused on what they need.
“Various consortiums will be bidding in the offshore round three licensing for acreage for windfarms this year and we will see activity in that sector. We are acting for several consortiums and are very optimistic about the future, both for our own business and for the north-east of Scotland.
“The north-east is an energy centre of excellence and we need to get more people believing in it and be prepared to adjust to the different environment we are operating in.”
Mr Ruddiman is upbeat on how the Granite City’s economy will fare.
He said: “Aberdeen is a real paradox, in some ways very parochial but also incredibly international.
“We have become so used to international business that at times we forget to talk about it as it’s not novel any more. I think we will come through better than other parts of the country.
“Ironically the sterling weakness helps us in exporting and with oil priced in dollars many of our companies have dollar incomes which translate well back into pounds.
“Aberdeen faces the same challenges as other cities but while we have a heavy energy bias we also have other strings to our bow with a fairly strong economy in food, drink and agriculture which is often overlooked.”
The son of two dentists who practised in Aberdeen for more than 30 years, Mr Ruddiman is proud of his Aberdonian roots and, while supportive of the proposed £1billion Donald Trump golf development at Balmedie, he rues lost opportunities to transform the city.
He said: “Personally I think the Trump development is a good thing. Diversification of the economy is vital and we need to take a long-term view and must encourage different strands of our economy with tourism playing a far more prominent role than it does currently.
“If I have a regret about the local economy, it’s a lack of anything tangible around the city centre which shows the massive success we have had with the oil industry.
“For all the success and prosperity we have enjoyed, the city centre sadly fails to reflect this and we need to bring back some pride back to the city.
“There has been a lack of long-term planning from the city fathers, the supporting infrastructure is not good enough and we need a bypass of some sort.
“We need to give the new regime at Aberdeen City Council under chief executive Sue Bruce an opportunity to show what they are made of. We have to accept where we are, work positively from here on in and give the council the chance to make a difference.
“As a schoolboy growing up in a relatively parochial city, I witnessed the arrival of people from all over the world and my eyes and ears were open to the change.
“I am very proud of the city and its successes, but in the next 30 years we have to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past, be open to change and have a bit more of a plan to ensure Aberdeen realises its full potential.”
What car do you drive?
Audi S5. I also have a soft spot for my 1980 602cc Citroen Dyane, which has languished in the garage for 10 years.
What’s your favourite restaurant?
Le Trifollet, Val d’Isere, France.
Have you ever broken the law?
Speeding, I’m afraid.
What or who makes you laugh?
Anything written by Tom Sharpe or classic British comedy such as Porridge, Fawlty Towers and Dad’s Army.
What’s your favourite book?
I read one book a year. Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom is an amazing story of spirit and perseverance.
What’s your favourite film?
Scent of a Woman, in which Al Pacino plays a compelling disabled war veteran. It has many powerful scenes and a good moral dilemma.
What’s your favourite singer/band?
Journey. Great memories of a summer spent in Boston in the US.
What’s your ideal job, other than this one?
What’s the best piece of business advice you have received?
Trust your instincts and try to put yourself on the other side of the table.
Worst business advice?
I have been lucky to have had some excellent mentors.
What do you drink?
How much was your first pay packet and what was it for?
£5 as a bicycle delivery boy for chemist Anderson and Spence.
How do you keep fit?
Cycling, running, ski-ing and swimming. I enter a few running and cycling events each year. I would happily play sport all day, but work seems to get in the way.
What’s your most interesting habit?
My family tell me I have an annoying reluctance to sit down.
What’s your biggest extravagance?
My wife, Maren, and three daughters.
With which historical or fictional character do you most identify?
It would be stretching it to “identify” with Winston Churchill but his oratory, leadership and resolve in World War II were certainly inspirational.
How would you like to be remembered?
With a smile.
Year born? 1965.
Education? Robert Gordon’s College 1970-83, Aberdeen University 1983-87.