In this regular Sunday feature, we ask people for 10 things that changed their life. This week, Marie Macklin, businesswoman.

1. Aberdeen

The National:

ONE thing that changed my life was holidays to Aberdeen in the 1970s with my family. When I look back now, it was probably my first realisation of different political climates. The oil fields had been opened and you used to go into Aberdeen and see Americans in cowboy hats and boots. I loved the idea of entrepreneurship and change.

I am a capitalist but I have a huge social consciousness. At the time, my hometown of Kilmarnock was undergoing industrial decline.

I thought it was strange that a west coast economy was allowed to die while an east coast economy flourished. The wealth from oil wasn’t redistributed as widely as it could have been.

I felt Scotland could be at the forefront of mega opportunities for a small country with a huge heart.

Scotland is a strong nation and there are strong policies coming out of the Scottish Government which will put us on a strong footing for independence. It will be achieved by strong minds and a strong sense of getting the economic model correct.

2. My parents

The National:

I AM proud to come from Kilmarnock. I come from where that awful programme, The Scheme, was filmed. We have a great football club. It is a town with a great community heart.

My dad was a bricklayer and my mother was a hosiery worker and they gave me the aspiration to be whatever I wanted to be. The ethics of the older generations were also built on grind and hard work. I wouldn’t be in this position if it wasn’t for both of my parents. They gave us their work ethic.

I had some great teachers at Kilmarnock Academy who believed in me and spent extra time with me. It was a west coast town, gritty and determined that we would fight to the end to get to where we wanted to go.

I used to fly down to London on the red-eye on Monday mornings and was back up on Friday night to sell houses for my dad at the weekend. I did that because I wanted to get on in life. But I realised something when I came home: London is an amazing city; Westminster is amazing to go and see; but it is totally detached from Scotland and the rest of the UK. That’s what it’s been like since I was a kid. If you needed to see a doctor, would you travel 500 miles? Of course not. So, why would you travel 500 miles to Westminster for rules and regulations?

3. Overcoming dyslexia

The National:

I HAVE dyslexia and when I came through school, I found it very difficult. I remember I overheard my parents talking about a teacher who had said I would never amount to anything. It triggered something in me.

I found it difficult to read and I was held back in school. Back in those days, dyslexia wasn’t recognised, so I had to study like mad to get my HNC and HND.

I strived to go to Glasgow, and I went to college there. I worked in a cocktail bar and a shoe shop as well. Glasgow was always a city of opportunity. Every night when I went home to Kilmarnock on the train, all I saw was industrial decline. I never thought I’d end up buying one of the old train factories in Kilmarnock I used to walk past as a child.

I found college very difficult, but I was really good with numbers and I was eventually head-hunted and worked with the Royal Bank in London.

4. Music

The National:

MUSIC got me through. It got me through school – I didn’t like reading but I listened to lyrics. The Simple Minds song Don’t You Forget About Me really stuck out. I used to walk past derelict factories on my way home and listen to it. I felt like the old buildings and businesses were jewels, but they’d forgotten about them. The people hadn’t forgotten about them, though.

When I was ill, music got me through again. In business, lyrics like Biffy Clyro’s (above) Many of Horror – “When we collide we come together” – speak to me a lot. They’re from Kilmarnock as well, and they still have strong ties to the town.

I also try to go to Ibiza every year for a holiday and soak up the music scene there.

5. Heels

The National:

I GOT my first pair of heels when I was 16. They were black, so I spray-painted them gold. I won’t change who I am – I won’t hide the fact that I’m as comfortable in a pair of killer heels as I am in rigger boots. I think that if you know your remit, you can be comfortable showing your feminine side in a man’s world such as the construction industry.

I speak to companies who are doing their utmost to get women into construction – and I think that more has to be done at school level to make sure that there’s more diversity and more women in construction in 10 or 20 years. That can of gold paint from Halford’s – it reminds me that I will do whatever it takes. And you have to play the long game so you get your model right.

6. Morrisons

The National:

WHEN I bought the Klin Group, I decided that I wanted to take it in the direction of regenerating urban areas. You need a big deal to get on track. I had been pursuing Morrisons for a few years before I bought Klin and brought the first Morrisons store to Scotland in 2004 in Kilmarnock.

At that time I bought a 30-acre site and moved the businesses which were there across the road and secured their jobs. One of those companies now employs 200 people, where they used to employ 60. The Morrisons store was part of an £85 million property development proposal that would regenerate my community. I had to put my house up as a guarantee to the bank, but I knew that I could bring Morrisons here.

A rival company tried to gazump my deal to keep Morrisons out – they even offered me £2 million more – but I said no. I wanted to do the right thing by my community. I wanted a new brand and new jobs. They had to make a commitment to the local community. They had to put on a bus service through the town and put money into local clubs. We also bought the semi-derelict Andrew Barclay building and turned it into apartments. It breathed some life back into the area.

7. Halo

The National:

HALO came out of the demise of the Johnnie Walker plant in Kilmarnock. I marched with 20,000 people against the closure. I negotiated with Diageo for the land. They sold it for £1 and my team and I came up with a £65m regeneration proposal.

I can’t bring back manufacturing, but what I did was bring new types of jobs through digital skills, pharmacy companies, technology companies and sustainable housing development. We now have four sites – the next being an industrial site in Northern Ireland.

We need more local integration with people and business and politics. In Kilmarnock, the Scottish Government is putting £3.5m in for infrastructure and the UK Government is putting in £3.5m for innovation. You can only drive forward change if you work with everyone.

8. Endometriosis

I HAD been ill for some time and it wasn’t picked up. One year, I was home doing Christmas shopping in Glasgow and I collapsed. I was rushed into hospital with internal bleeding. I nearly lost my life. I was diagnosed with endometriosis.

I spent a long time in hospital and I lost all my confidence. I gave up my career in London and I thought I would never work again.

That was the catalyst for me coming back to Scotland to get better. My parents got me through.

I started working part-time at my father’s business. I then got involved with a lot of local charities, such as Centre Stage, which was all about trying to help people make change and give them opportunity.

My dad became ill and his business, the Klin Group, was set to be bought over, but I stepped in and bought it in 2003.

9. Twitter

The National:

I NEVER thought Twitter was for me, but I became addicted. It gave me the opportunity to set the record straight on things and it gave me a voice.

George Galloway blocked me because I didn’t agree with what he said on talkRADIO. He has the right to say whatever he wants, but he’s a hypocrite saying that Brexit is the best thing to ever happen to this country.

Sometimes Twitter can be a bad place. I took a picture of the shipyards in Govan and some people called me a warmonger.

I’m not on Twitter to play politics but to put out positive messaging.

10. Business principles

The National:

I PUT people first before profit. I’m under no illusions: I am in business to make money, to give people opportunity and to put a hell of a lot back in. The most valuable thing you can give people is time – I do a lot of mentoring, as do my colleagues. We don’t seek publicity for what we do and keep a lot of it under the radar.

That’s being part of the community I was brought up in.

You can have all the government policies and fancy buildings you want, but it is people who make change. I believe that you can aspire to be whatever you want to be.