High Flyers: Every day's a school day for Colin

Colin D'Alton.
Colin D'Alton.

In the High Flyers spotlight this week is Colin D’Alton, co-founder and director at Gray Design, an architectural firm with offices in Newry, Belfast, and Dublin specialising in commercial, industrial, bespoke homes, residential development, leisure, and interior design.

What was your first job?

My first job was working in a petrol station shop after school every day and then at the weekends.

What qualifications do you have?

I did my Professional Diploma in Architecture at UCD following my practical experience working in various architectural offices both in Northern Ireland and Dublin.

What do you attribute your success to?

I would probably say that I feel “every day is a school day” there is no one that knows everything, and I would be the first to say that you are consistently learning in this industry! That and having a good team around me.

How would you describe yourself to someone who’d never met you?

I would like to think that I am hard-working and not afraid to face a challenge.

Who do you look up to in business?

I always remember Richard Branson said, “If someone offers you an amazing opportunity and you’re not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later”. That always stuck in my head.

How do you get the best out of people who work for you?

There’s a thin line between being a boss and a colleague/friend. I would like to think that I inspire my employees to be their best and I always remember what it feels like to be an employee.

If you could change one thing about doing business in Northern Ireland, what would it be?

I would say currently in our industry there is a lack of people with the specialist skills required and there is still the unknown impact of the protocol hanging over the country.

What website or app could you not do without?

I do a lot of running, the Garmin Connect app would be one of the most used apps on my phone

What was the last book you read?

I have strange taste in books and only really get to read on holidays, but it was Extinct by RR Haywood.

What car do you drive?

BMW 8 Series.

Tell us something interesting about yourself?

My biggest achievement outside work was running a marathon under 3:20 – not record-breaking I know but I was over the moon.

What’s your greatest passion outside work and family?

My greatest passion would be cars. I have always had a love for cars and growing up with a mechanic as a father probably attributed to this.