Scottish International John Barclay was educated at Dollar Academy in Scotland. On leaving school in 2004, John went to the Glasgow Warriors Academy as an apprentice. Within a month he was selected as part of the Scotland squad, before playing a game of professional rugby. Months later he played for Warriors, making him their youngest debutant to date at 18 years old. John spent nine years at Glasgow, scoring 15 tries and captaining the side on many occasions. A successful five-year spell at Llanelli Scarlets followed, during which John captained the team to victory in the 2017 Guinness Pro12, and as runners- up in 2018.
On the international stage, John won 76 caps for his country, captaining the team on 15 occasions and won the last of his caps at his third Rugby World Cup in Japan in 2019.
John has spoken at various events using his leadership experience to assist businesses with their own leadership issues and strategies. Dealing with adversity, toxic environments and managing pressure and expectations are areas that have resonated with organisations throughout the business world.
Kate Forbes MSP
Cabinet Secretary for Finance
Kate Forbes MSP is from Dingwall, although she spent part of her upbringing in Glasgow and India. Until she was elected as MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, Kate was employed as an accountant in the banking industry. Prior to that she studied History at the Universities of Cambridge and Edinburgh with a focus on human migration.
As a backbencher, she has served on the Scottish Parliament’s Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee; the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee; the Health and Sport Committee; and the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee. She also served as Parliamentary Liaison Officer for Finance and the Constitution.
As well as leading a campaign to ban plastic straws, Kate has participated in several cross-party groups at Holyrood including Crofting, Gaelic, Human Trafficking, Palliative Care and Rural Policy.
A fluent Gaelic speaker, Kate made history earlier this year by becoming the first female MSP to give a plenary speech entirely in Gaelic in the current Scottish Parliament chamber.
In February 2020 she was appointed as Cabinet Secretary for Finance.
Benny began his career at Standard Life in 1983 where he joined as an actuarial student and went on to become a member of the Standard Life Group Executive Committee in 1996. In 1997 he moved to RBS to become Chief Executive of Retail Banking. He was with RBS until 2005, during which time he led the successful integration of NatWest Retail Banking – one of the largest hostile takeovers ever undertaken in banking. He became Chief Executive, Retail, HBOS in 2006 before joining Tesco Bank as Chief Executive in 2008, a position he held until February 2018.
In September 2017 Benny was asked by the Scottish Government to develop an implementation plan for the creation of a Scottish National Investment Bank. Subsequently he was appointed as Strategic Adviser to the First Minister on the building of the Scottish National Investment Bank and Chairman of Scottish Government’s Advisory Group on Economic Recovery post Covid-19.
Benny is Executive Chairman of the Buccleuch Group, Chairman of the National Galleries of Scotland, Chairman of Sistema Scotland, Chairman of Forster Chase Advisory Limited, Non-Executive Chairman of AAB Wealth (Anderson Anderson & Brown Wealth), Chairman of The Fine Art Society (London & Edinburgh), Non-Executive Director of Glasgow Life, Trustee of Burrell Renaissance, Non-Executive Director of Arabian Centres, Chairman of Kyckr and Commissioner of the Infrastructure Commission of Scotland.
Benny graduated with a First Class Honours degree in Mathematics from the University of Glasgow and he was awarded a University Blue in 1983. He is a Fellow of the Faculty of Actuaries, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Bankers in Scotland and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. He is an Honorary Professor at the University of Glasgow, Honorary Professor at Edinburgh University, Visiting Professor at Strathclyde University, Honorary Professor at Edinburgh Business School, Heriot-Watt University, Doctor of University, University of Glasgow and University of Glasgow, Court member of Finance Committee.
Chief Executive, Wood Plc
As Chief Executive, Robin created Wood Plc from the UK LSE Class 1 acquisition of Amec Foster Wheeler by the Wood Group in 2017.
Today, Wood Plc is one of the world’s leading engineering and consultancy companies operating in Energy and the Built Environment. It has offices in over 60 countries, employing over 50,000 people and generating in excess of $10 billion in revenues.
A Chartered Mechanical Engineer, Robin is a Fellow of both the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and the Energy Institute.
He holds an MBA from the University of Strathclyde and an Honours Degree in Offshore & Mechanical Engineering from Heriot-Watt University.
Robin was awarded the Institute of Director’s ‘Director of the Year, Large Business Category 2019’.