Born in Kilmarnock in 1951, Adam was educated at Kilmarnock Academy. He graduated from Paisley College with a BA (Hons) in Business Economics. He has a local family business background coupled with professional training and experience as an economist and prior to his election he worked for ten years as an economic development consultant. He was elected to the Scottish Parliament as a list member for the South of Scotland in 1999. In the Parliament he has convened the Cross Party Group on Mental Health and has been a member of the education committee and the subordinate legislation committee. He is married with four children and lives in Kilmarnock.