A son of Scotland’s tough, no-nonsense ‘Granite City’ Aberdeen, David Milne was born into post-war austerity but at school revealed a gift for performance where he also wrote his own material. Started professionally aged 16 as a backing singer on Grampian television, David also gave lunchtime recitals of German lieder at Aberdeen University while also being also a regional champion sprinter and keen gymnast and rugby player; thanks to his mother, he could ballroom dance. A golf addict since the age of 17, he has noted a distinct improvement in the last 50 years.
In 1964, Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary year, David started his training as an actor, also branching out into directing and teaching drama, at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (now the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland); his contemporaries included Bill Paterson, Dennis Lawson and David Hayman. Of the teenagers who passed through David’s workshops at Glasgow’s famed Citizen’s Theatre, many became professional actors with two becoming staff directors at the National Theatre. A champion of the Community Theatre movement, David also helped design and create the Mews Theatre in the new town of Livingston, and befriended Billy Connolly as a fellow performer on the folk music circuit.
From 1978, David was Studio Director at Derby Playhouse, touring musicals and drama around village halls, school halls, working men’s clubs and other community centres. By 1985, when he left for London as a base to direct and act all over the UK, he had directed nearly one hundred productions, written 25 plays and 40 songs. David next pursued his career, from 1986, at London’s famed Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic (now part of the Central School of Speech and Drama) directing and training actors including Minnie Driver, Julia Ormond, Emma Chambers, Steve Nicholson and Samantha Spiro.
While continuing to run drama workshops, David diversified into career and self development workshops for people in business who needed to improve their public speaking skills. This was to open up the next major phase of David’s career. Not only had he the communication, management and inspirational skills for which there was a crying need in the corporate world but also, derived from years working in the theatre, a firm grasp of the nuts and bolts of any business: financial and operational accountability to boards of directors, staff management, team building and leading, conference presentations, and raising funds, subsidies and investment.
With business demand for his skills outstripping his spare time, David left the theatre world to concentrate on this new phase in his career, creating his own training company which raised the bar throughout the industry. Set up in 1992 with David’s wife, the psychologist Eva Najberg, Najberg Milne combines the rigour of the latest evidence-based academic research with profound hands-on knowledge of the workplace and its challenges.
Building his knowledge, skills and commitment to the highest standards into Najberg Milne’s DNA will be David’s legacy to the future. Hard-wiring soft skills is what Najberg Milne is all about, and that starts with the company itself.
My aim was to build a training company whose standards were second to none: something like a car company that only builds cars by hand or a Savile Row tailor; small but with a dedication to perfection – even though perfection is not possible. Now that we have that company, what fascinates me is that we help our clients actually change the way they do business.Director