Ian was born in Glasgow in 1942, and emigrated with his family to Canada when he was young.
He showed entrepreneurial tendencies from an early age, and by the time he started his career in brokerage and investment firm Midland-Osler Securities, he already had several successful enterprises under his belt.
Over the next 20 years, Ian became the highest producing broker at Midland-Osler, moved to Vancouver and became a Director of Cochran Murray & Hay Ltd (now CIBC Wood Gundy), and was relocated to London where he was in charge of the European business for Fry Mills Spence subsequently merged with Burns Brothers, to become Burns Fry Limited. At Burns Fry Ian became one of the five Executive Committee members who were the largest shareholders and were responsible for overall strategy.
He resigned in 1980 to travel with his recently married wife, Victoria, to discover what else the world had to offer besides investment banking.
In 1982, Ian contacted the well-known British investor Jim Slater. They went into business together, and during the period 1982-2002, they invested together in a number of different ventures ranging from timeshare salmon fishing in Scotland, to a commodity brokerage business. Ian co-founded and was chairman of Global Media Ltd; Global Media created global live telecasts including a broadcast with the Pope from Rome to 90 countries. At the time, utilising 22 satellites, this was the most complicated television event ever produced and was watched by over a billion people. Ian also invested in a telephony business operating in France, the USA, Mexico and the Caribbean.
Sadly in November 2015, Ian’s long time business partner and close friend Jim Slater died suddenly, aged 86, after a very happy and full life.
From 1987 - 1991 Ian was Chairman of the Global Board of The Hunger Project, whose mission is to end hunger and poverty by pioneering sustainable, grassroots strategies and advocating their widespread adoption in countries throughout the world. From 1999–2004 he was Chairman of The Institute of Noetic Sciences, based in California, a research centre and direct-experience lab specialising in the intersection of science and human experience.
More recently from 2009 - 2020, Ian was the Chairman of PYE Global (Partnership for Youth Empowerment), an organisation that developed the Creative Empowerment Model, which combines experiential learning, group facilitation and art-based practice into a framework for designing and leading transformative programs. His then 16 year old daughter Lucinda had completed one of their camps, and when she returned home stating that ‘anything I achieve in my life will be as a result of this experience’, Ian realised this work needed to be amplified around the world as much as possible. In the past 10 years, PYE has grown exponentially, and last year they worked with 200,000 young people in 14 countries. Ian is also Chairman of one of their partner organisations IndigenEYEZ, which uses the same model to inspire an intergenerational legacy of well-being among the First Nations people in Canada and beyond.
Ian has been an Executive Producer of several TV series created by Search for Common, a Washington based conflict resolution organisation, and of a documentary on Forgiveness, directed by Helen Whitney and aired on PBS in 2011.
Ian now lives on Cortes Island in British Colombia, from where he runs a family office with his daughter Lucinda making investments in both private and public companies. He continues to spend a lot of his time working with organisations to create positive change in the world and to preserve the natural beauty of our planet.
EXERCISE & MEDITATION
I exercise for about an hour every morning, including running or a stationary bike, together with some yoga. I once ran the London Marathon. When I reached the 18th mile, I was flagging badly. Fortunately, some kind soul had placed a CD player outside a pub with the theme music from Chariots of Fire. This started me up again and spurred me on to finish the 26 ¼ mile course in 3 hours and 28 minutes.
When I ran every day, I found that it made me feel fresh and ready for work, and it was also meditative. In particular, I found an early morning run very helpful to acclimatise me when travelling overseas.
After I stopped running every day, I decided to create a regular time for mediation after attending a TM course. I meditate every day for twenty minutes, usually at 11am. My business colleagues are now used to me doing this, so I am rarely interrupted. I sit in my chair with my hands on my lap, close my eyes and repeat silently a mantra which helps me to move away from thinking about anything else. Thoughts do, of course, intrude but I have learned to take no notice of them and let them drift away. Time takes on a different dimension, sometimes it passes very quickly and I find it hard to believe I have been sitting there for twenty minutes, and at other times, it seems as if I have been sitting there for hours. However, meditation always refreshes and centres me.
I have also discovered ‘burpees’ as one of the more challenging forms of physical exercise, and try to incorporate them at least once a week into my daily routine. In 2019 I completed the burpee challenge, managing 65 in one session.
I am often asked for details of the investment publications I read regularly. I began to make a list and was surprised to find there were so many, especially bearing in mind that I have excluded general brokers’ circulars, which I receive every day, and newspapers and magazines of a more general nature.
Here is the list: Economist, Ecologist, Barrons Weekly, Investors Chronicle, Moneyweek, Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times – the best for daily information.
- Ian Watson
Articles & Interviews
“Final Tipping Point for the Euro”, by Jim Slater – June 2012
“Kyle Bass Interview” – December 2011
“Brazilian Adventure” – February 2011
“The Miracle of the Cerrado” – August 2010
“The New Brazil” – June 2010
“Brazilian Farms Sow Seeds of Openness” – April 2010
“How to Feed the World” – November 2009
Fortune Magazine – June 2009
“Buy Brazil” – February 2008