Obituary: John Harkins, business adviser, 60

John Harkins influenced many businesses in the city. Picture: contributed
John Harkins influenced many businesses in the city. Picture: contributed
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A LEADING business adviser who helped hundreds of firms in Edinburgh and the Lothians to grow has died at the age of 60.

John Harkins made a significant contribution to the business community in the Capital through his work as a high-growth adviser with Business Gateway and the city’s Chamber of Commerce.

After graduating in mechanical engineering from Napier University, John initially worked for Ferranti Defence Systems.

In 1990 he left Ferranti to take up a position as production manager with Hunter Timber, before going on to become the managing director of Caledonian Industries, where he successfully led new growth within the business.

While he was working at Caledonian he returned to Napier University to study part time for a BA in business economics, graduating in 1997.

After a period of time in self-employment as an e-commerce consultant, John joined the Business Gateway team at Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce in 2002.

He quickly established himself within the team, where he gave advice and support to growing companies and making connections to enable their business growth.

John had several opportunities for promotion but chose to continue advising; the contact with the companies and his ability to offer professional and practical advice being what he really loved.

He built up a strong business network in Edinburgh, including private, public and academic organisations. He was well respected within the business community and used his network to benefit those firms with which he worked.

Although a private and quiet individual, he had a strong professional presence, which became apparent in meetings, where he could easily demonstrate his knowledge or get his point across, making everyone present realise they were in the presence of someone who knew what he was talking about, and he did so with great credibility.

John was an absolutely integral part of the Business Gateway team and he developed a strong working relationship with his colleague John Hughes, who between them established the Edinburgh Business Growth Club which helps hundreds of businesses each year.

John moved from Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce to the City of Edinburgh Council when the Business Gateway service transferred to the council. Susan Harkins, manager of Business Gateway Edinburgh, paid tribute to him, saying: “As a business colleague, John will be greatly missed. He was held in high regard by all the team and although he was a private individual he always had time for a catch-up when he was in the office. John will be sadly missed by everyone he worked with through Business Gateway and our thoughts are with his family and friends at this sad time.”