Kieron Achara MBE
Olympian and former GB Basketball and Scotland International
Kieron has recently retired from professional basketball after a career spanning more than two decades. He was fortunate to live in the USA, Italy, Greece, and Bulgaria before returning back to Scotland to play for the Glasgow Rocks. He was captain of Scotland and Great Britain where he earned 105 international caps. He also competed in the London 2012 Olympics and 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Kieron currently works with various organisations championing athlete transition and mental health awareness as well as being patron founder of Rocks in the Community, that uses sport as a tool to better peoples’ lives.
Scottish International Cricketer
Abbi Aitken-Drummond is a Scottish International cricketer with 151 caps to her name. She captained the national side between 2010 and 2017 and has been involved in the national set up for 16 years. The senior figure has been part of the continuous effort to professionalise the game in Scotland and is well versed in juggling the pressures and expectations for on field performances with full time work off the field. The 29-year old comes with a wealth of experience of what it takes to be a leader and is a firm believer in the transferable skills that sport can give you in the workplace. She is also an advocate for the power of exercise in aiding positive mental well-being.
Former Scotland Rugby International Captain
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.
Dr Roger Barker
Director of Policy and Corporate Governance, Institute of Directors
Roger took on the role of Director of Policy and Corporate Governance in September 2020. He is also Honorary Associate at the Centre for Ethics and Law at University College London, and a regular speaker on corporate governance issues at a variety of leading universities and business schools.
Previously, Roger was Managing Director of Governomics Ltd, a corporate governance advisory firm. And during an earlier stint at the IoD, he served as Director of Corporate Governance and Professional Standards (2008-2016).
Roger is the author of numerous books and articles on corporate governance and board effectiveness, including a new co-edited volume: ‘The Law and Governance of Decentralised Business Models: Between Hierarchies and Markets’ (Routledge, 2020). Previous books include: ‘Corporate Governance and Investment Management: The Promises and Limitations of the New Financial Economy’ (Edward Elgar, 2017), ‘The Effective Board: Building Individual and Board Success’ (Kogan Page, 2010), and ‘Corporate Governance, Competition, and Political Parties: Explaining Corporate Governance Change in Europe’ (Oxford University Press, 2010).
A former investment banker, Roger spent almost 15 years in a variety of equity research and senior management roles at UBS and Bank Vontobel, both in the UK and Switzerland. He has a doctorate from Oxford University and taught Politics at Merton College, Oxford (2005-2008). Until January 2020, he served as a UK Member of the European Economic and Social Committee in Brussels.
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.
Director General, Institute of Directors
Jon was appointed Director General of the Institute of Directors in October 2019. Prior to this he spent 30 years working in the professional services sector, most recently at Grant Thornton International Ltd responsible for the organisation’s interest in China and previously at PwC. Jon has a long-standing connection with the IoD, as Chair of IoD Yorkshire and North East region prior to his appointment as Director General.
He is the author of three books on China and in addition to being a Fellow of the IoD he is also a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. He studied Geography and Archaeology at St. Andrews University specialising in underwater archaeology.
Outside of work, his interests include hill walking and fell running. He was the navigator in a rally team for 20 years and is a qualified UK Mountain Leader with significant experience of operating in extreme environments. He has walked unsupported to the North Pole and completed other expeditions in Norway, the Canadian Arctic and the Everest region.
Field CTO - Consumer Industries, Salesforce
Vivek is a Technology leader with 20+ years’ experience transforming IT functions in international organisations, primarily in the Consumer Industries.
Currently he is the Field CTO for Consumer Industries at Salesforce and has been in this role since September 2019. His role focuses on guiding Consumer Goods companies on shaping and executing their transformations and guiding the internal product development for the industry.
He previously worked at British American Tobacco for 16 years in various Commercial and Technology leadership roles. He was instrumental in shaping and driving key transformations in the Route-to-Market (B2B) and D2C areas, underpinned with Salesforce Technology.
Vivek is passionate about bridging the gap between great ideas around Digital Transformation and tangible execution and outcomes in large enterprises.
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.
Dr Iain MacRitchie
Founder and Chair, MCR Pathways
Iain is the founder and chair of MCR Pathways, an award winning school-based mentoring programme, which supports 2,500 disadvantaged young people across Scotland each week.
Iain, a Glaswegian, previously advised over 100 businesses internationally and acted as executive chairman/CEO in leading the transformation of 18 different companies during his career. It was Iain’s leadership role of 3 failing care organisations, with 90 children’s homes, 5 schools and foster agency, that now drives him. Despite the transformation in the quality, operations and financial stability, Iain could not reconcile that it made no difference to the outcomes of the young people in care. Despite being at the peak of his business career Iain decided to use his time and resources to help the young people, disadvantaged through no fault of their own, to be determined by their potential and never their circumstances. In 2007 he set up his charitable foundation and has now dedicated 7 years as a full-time volunteer to establish MCR Pathways nationally.
Iain’s work in supporting the country’s most disadvantaged young people has been recognised by a number of awards including Glasgow’s St Mungo Medal, The Lifetime Achievement Award in The Diversity Awards 2019, and being named as one of the 2019 Class of Influential Leaders worldwide by AACSB International. He also became visiting professor at the University of Strathclyde in 2020 and a regional IOD Scotland winner and Third Sector Director of the Year.
Dr Gillian Murray
Deputy Principal (Enterprise and Business), Heriot-Watt University
Dr Gillian Murray is the Deputy Principal (Enterprise and Business), Heriot-Watt University. Gill joined Heriot-Watt University in October 2016 to lead on the development and implementation of the University’s Enterprise and Business Engagement Strategy, mobilising the University’s intellectual and capital assets to effect greater impact regionally, nationally and globally. She was previously at the University of Liverpool, where she built innovative new models for Business/University collaboration, transforming the city region through strategic partnerships and supply chain development. Whilst at Heriot Watt, Gillian has led a number of major innovation and skills initiatives including, positioning the University as a leading provider of Graduate Apprentices in Scotland, building a global innovation ecosystem and partnership network (GRID), transforming online education and creating new flexible upskilling opportunities in key emerging sectors. She is a founding member of the Centre for Work Based Learning, working with partners in Scotland to enhance opportunity through work based learning; a member of the Enterprise & Skills Strategic Board for the Scottish Government (created in 2017, the Strategic Board aligns and co-ordinates the activities of Scotland's enterprise and skills agencies: Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Skills Development Scotland and the Scottish Funding Council); a member of the Confederation of British Industry Scotland Council.
Co-Founder, Drylaw House
Nicki has worked in communications for over 20 years in London and Scotland across a variety of sectors. She has utilised her corporate skills and insights to build two businesses from scratch and take them both to exit within four years.
She established her own marcomms consultancy and built an enviable portfolio of hospitality, tourism, food and drink clients, alongside this she and her husband transformed their home into an exclusive use venue.
Nicki’s attention to detail and ambition to deliver a five star product put Drylaw House on the map as the perfect venue for special occasions and celebrations.
Robin Watson CBE
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’.