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From humble but happy beginnings in north London, Ray Perman has been a popular and much admired figure in the Scottish business world since permanently moving to Edinburgh in 1975. The former Scotland correspondent for the Financial Times, went on to found the successful Business Insider publishing group before becoming Chief Executive of Scottish Financial Enterprise, Chairman of Social Investment Scotland and Chairman of the James Hutton Institute – as well as many other roles. But you may know him better as the author of a gripping book about the 2008 banking crisis called Hubris: How HBOS Wrecked the Best Bank in Britain – plus two more excellent books about the pioneering environmentalist John Lorne, and the financial history of Edinburgh. Interview by Fraser Allen on 17 May 2022. www.allencomms.co.uk
Professor Calum MacRae, a GP's son from the Isle of Skye, has been based in Boston in the USA for more than 30 years and is Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. As well as being a physician and a scientist, he is extraordinarily influential and well-connected in Boston’s buoyant life sciences, medical and technology sectors. And in this interview he casts an expert eye over what makes these sectors tick, how they compare to Scotland and the scope for transatlantic collaboration. This interview by Fraser Allen was originally recorded on 30 March 2022 as part of the Q Events, organised by the Scottish Business Network and supported by the Scottish Government to help build Scotland’s tech ecosystem. www.allencomms.co.uk
Damian Riley-Smith grew up in Norfolk but has strong family connections with Jura – both the island and the whisky. A born entrepreneur, he avoided studies during his time at Cambridge University because he was busy running three enterprises he had started up – a magazine, a nightclub and boxer short business. Yep – it was the 80s! After a brief spell in venture capital, he then moved into magazine publishing, which has been the focus of his career ever since, drawing him back to both Scotland and whisky. He’s the founder of Scotland magazine and Whisky magazine, and has gone on to build a publishing empire based around drinks, hospitality, events and awards – culminating in his renovation of Rothes Glen Castle on Speyyside, turning it into a luxury retreat for whisky lovers. Interviewed by Fraser Allen on 25 February 2022. www.allencomms.co.uk
As a school-leaver, Philip Grant went straight to work in a branch of Bank of Scotland and, 40 years on, his career continues within the same group. He's now Chief Operating Officer for Insurance & Wealth at Lloyds Banking Group, as well as being Chair of Scottish Financial Enterprise. However, despite all that has happened since, Philip still remembers his first piece of advice from his boss: “Never take your jacket off in front of a customer.” He also says that much of his early time at the bank was spent fetching scones and pies for older colleagues, but he clearly had talent that was spotted further up the ladder. At the age of 26, he was parachuted into a full-time MBA at the University of Strathclyde and then steadily rose into senior positions, navigating the global banking crisis and the HBOS/Lloyds merger, and now helping the group to steer a way through the pandemic crisis, economic gloom and market disruption. Down to earth and a natural communicator, Philip tells his story with great humour and hard–earned insights in an interview with Fraser Allen recorded on 4 February 2022. www.allencomms.co.uk
After a happy childhood in South Africa, Shona Fleming was brought back to Glasgow by her parents and found the transition difficult. Life at school became uncomfortable with taunts about her background – her education stalled and Shona abandoned any thoughts of higher education. A series of junior jobs followed, in which she always worked hard, but repeatedly found herself back at square one. By this point, she was by her own admission, developing a chip on her shoulder, but it also provided her with a great sense of motivation. Shona decided to study for a degree in London and discover what she was best at. That determination has since led to her becoming Chief Executive of Scotscare, a charity whose origins stretch back more than 400 years to King James of Scotland and England, and which now looks after Scots in London facing difficulties. And it’s a position she juggles with also being Chief Executive of Borderline, a charity supporting homeless Scots. Shona’s passion for her role, her team and the people they look after shines through and, as we start another no doubt challenging year, it’s good to hear what’s being done for Scots who may be struggling with particularly tough circumstances. Recorded on 16 December 2021.
If you only ever listen to one episode of the Scottish Business Network podcast, make it this one. To round 2021 off, Fraser Allen dips into the archive to unearth some wonderful contributions from guests over the past two to three years. In particular, we hear from people who have shown extraordinary resilience in the face of adversity, as well as others who have found ways to help. There is humour, there are thought-provoking observations and there are some very poignant moments that you'll probably find moving. And all of this packed into just 28 minutes!
When Todd Walker was appointed Principal and Vice-Chancellor at the University of the Highlands and Islands in February 2021, he started the role in the strangest of circumstances. Based in Australia, lockdown prevented his relocation to Inverness, so he spent several months leading the university from a desk at his home on the other side of the world, having to cope with the huge time difference. But Todd is now in situ and very much enjoying the challenge of developing this young and ambitious university that has campuses scattered across an area the size of Belgium. I was delighted to interview Todd in front of a live audience on 2 November 2021 as part of Scottish International Week. Todd tells the story of his career with great thoughtfulness and humour, and it’s a really good listen. If you enjoyed this episode, why not subscribe to the series? Simply search for Scottish Business Network on Apple Music, Spotify or the podcast platform of your choice.
Building on a highly successful business career, Aberdeenshire-born Jackie Waring founded Investing Women, a Scottish community of women angel investors, women entrepreneurs seeking growth, and those who want to help both. Scott Dalgleish takes over the reins from Fraser Allen in interviewing Jackie for this fascinating episode, exploring the unexpected growth in angel investment during the pandemic crisis and the powerful role that woman are playing in the growth of the Scottish economy.
To mark the opening of Scottish International Week on 2 November 2021, Fraser Allen considers the global Scottish diaspora and interviews a fine example of this inquisitive and adventurous breed. When Argyll-bred Caroline Finkel first visited Turkey as a student in 1971, she fell in love with the country and has spent much of her life since then living in Istanbul, developing a career as a leading Ottoman historian. We discover how this happened, her horror at the environmental catastrophe unfolding in parts of Turkey and how her relationship with Scotland has changed and strengthened over the years. Recorded on 15 October 2021. www.allencomms.co.uk
Aberdonian Iain Anderson began his career working as a journalist for the Courier and the Herald before becoming a founding shareholder of Incisive Media, a B2B publishing company that has evolved into digital media and events. It was a wise move as his shareholding grew considerably due to a subsequent sale and flotation. That enabled him to found Cicero Group, which rapidly established a reputation as the market leader in financial sector lobbying. As a result he and his team have helped numerous big blue chip clients navigate change – and major events such as the global banking crisis, the Scottish independence referendum, Brexit and, of course, the pandemic crisis. He has also been an advisor to Kenneth Clarke MP, is a non-executive director of St Andrews University and, shortly before our interview, was unveiled as the Government’s first ever LGBT Champion. As you’d expect from a masterful communicator, Iain is wonderful to listen to as he explores some of the milestones in his career and explains why he’s watched All The President’s Men 30 times. The interview was recorded on 21 September 2021, at the first ever Scottish Business Network hybrid event, comprising myself and Iain with an online audience, brought together with two physical audiences in Glasgow and London. www.allencomms.co.uk
Honorary Scot Liz Barclay has a long history of campaigning for consumer justice and financial inclusion through her days at Citizens Advice, a distinguished career as a journalist and BBC Radio 4 presenter, and her seat on the Financial Inclusion Commission. Then in July 2021, Liz was revealed as the new UK Small Business Commissioner. The commission is an independent body set up by the UK Government to support SMEs by tackling the late payment practices of all too many big businesses. It's a huge problem for many smaller companies, with levels of late payment across the UK now totalling around £50bn. Liz Barclay is the perfect person to listen to on this topic, and a highly entertaining interviewee too. We also hear about her brushes with Duncan Bannatyne and Philip Green, her colourful Scottish connections and her truly extraordinary lockdown project. For the first time in 19 months, this Scottish Business Network podcast interview was recorded in front of an audience of real people in an actual room. It took place at London Scottish House on 7 September 2021, with Christine Esson expertly taking the interviewer's seat. www.allencomms.co.uk
In 2012, a 21-year-old Aberdeen University student called Blair Bowman created a global celebration called World Whisky Day. Hundreds of thousands of people got involved, and the initiative continues to flourish. Meanwhile Blair has gone on to establish himself as one of the UK’s leading writers, experts and consultants on whisky. As we begin an occasional series of episodes exploring key sectors of the Scottish economy, who better to give us a fascinating overview of the state of play of the Scotch whisky industry. Slàinte! Interview recorded on 24 August 2021. www.allencomms.co.uk
It’s often been said that, here in Scotland, we underestimate just what a wonderful place this is to live and work in – particularly compared to many people looking on admiringly from overseas. Take the fintech entrepreneur Gopal Hariharan. He was so impressed by the Scottish business eco system that he moved his Black Arrow app start-up from Sydney to Glasgow. Furthermore, he and his wife have moved to Glasgow too, attracted by the culture, the scenery of the Highlands and – get this – the weather! Their only complaint so far has been the unusual warmth of this year's summer. A self-confessed maths geek as a child, Gopal was born to be a problem solver and has built a very successful career on understanding the full spectrum of money trails and fintech architecture. He’s a charming and thoughtful listen, and I thoroughly enjoyed the interview, which was recorded on 20 July 2021. www.allencomms.co.uk
Growing up on a Californian farm, Eric McAfee’s horizons were broadened by global travel, including extensive tours playing trumpet in a band. Yet running parallel to this, he and his brothers started a business at an early age called McAfee Farms managing agricultural properties. And at the tender age of 23, while he was still at college, Eric was part of a trio that staged a leveraged buyout of a $20m business. He’s never looked back and Eric very quickly established himself as a highly successful venture capitalist. Yet money is not the main motivation. Eric is driven by a desire to create a legacy of businesses that deliver significant global benefits through renewable energy solutions. Hearing him talk openly about this motivation and his approach to venture capital is fascinating. Eric is a great example of the powerful contributions being made by the Scottish diaspora across the world – and he also discusses his family connections with auld country and the isle of Colonsay. Interview recorded on 15 July 2021. www.allencomms.co.uk
We now hear the phrase ‘mental health’ in the media just about every day, but it wasn’t always that way. People – and businesses – have become far more comfortable discussing issues such as stress, anxiety and depression – even more so in the wake of the pandemic crisis. And while a lot of people are understandably keen to throw themselves back into a more normal way of life, others are feeling anxious about emerging from lockdown. Who better to speak to then than Fiona McKinnon, co-founder of The Moment Company? Fi built up a highly successful global career in digital media and marketing before the crazy hours and endless long-haul flights caught up with her and she decided to re-boot her life. This ultimately led her to get together with kindred spirits Alex Strang and Charlie Cadbury to launch The Moment Company and their 'mental fitness product' the Moment Pebble. I asked Fi to provide some advice for anyone who might be struggling with lockdown-related anxiety. She offered some great practical tips and tells the story of her life and career to date beautifully. Well worth a listen. Interview by Fraser Allen on 26 May 2021. www.allencomms.co.uk
David Brown may well be Scotland's most successful fintech entrepreneur. However, in a Glasgow accent undimmed by many years of living in London and the Middle East, he self-deprecatingly describes himself as a 'lunatic'. Well, if that's the case, he’s the lunatic behind the hugely successful Oxygen Finance and now Hi55 Ventures, which is revolutionising payroll for the benefit of employees and employers. And all of his start-ups have a strong social enterprise element inspired by the sense of community he appreciates from his upbringing in Drumchapel. In this fascinating interview, David also tells us about his business adventures in Saudi Arabia, and his early days as a music and fashion promoter in Glasgow, hanging out with the likes of Spencer Railton, Craig Ferguson and his old schoolmates Wet Wet Wet. He also explains the importance in life of 'jumping on the bus'. This interview with Fraser Allen was recorded in front of a live Scottish Business Network audience on Zoom on 19 May 2021. www.allencomms.co.uk
Dr Marie Macklin is on a mission. As the driving force behind the ambitious regeneration of the old Johnnie Walker bottling plant in her home town of Kilmarnock, Marie has developed a new model for creating vibrant communities for the benefit of everyone – and it’s a model she’s set on taking well beyond Scotland. The founder of HALO Urban Regeneration is a hugely energetic and charismatic businesswoman, but success has not always come easily to her, having struggled with undiagnosed dyslexia and almost losing her life in her twenties through endometriosis. Yet, inspired by caravan holidays in Aberdeen, the music of the Simple Minds, and a pair of black killer heels that she spray-painted gold, Marie has a great story, and it's beautifully told. Interviewed by Fraser Allen in front of a live audience on Zoom on 27 April 2021. Subscribe to the series by searching for 'Scottish Business Network' on Apple Music, Spotify or the podcast platform of your choice. www.allencomms.co.uk
In this special episode, entrepreneur and Scottish Business Network co-founder Russell Dalgleish quizzes podcast host Fraser Allen about seven key leadership insights that he's gathered from interviewing 60+ Scottish business leaders in the series to date. Recorded in front of a live audience as part of the Scottish Business Network's celebration of Tartan Day.
For rugby fans of a certain age, the abiding memory of David Sole is of the Scottish captain leading the team out for the 1990 Grand Slam triumph against England. Yet as well as an outstanding rugby career, that also encompassed a World Cup semi-final and a victorious Lions tour of Australia, David has built a highly successful business career. He is now Managing Partner of The School For CEOs, a senior coaching business that he set up with Patrick Macdonald, recently appointed Chair of the Institute of Directors. In this extended episode, David shares insights into his rugby and business experiences, including the importance of humility and emotional intelligence in our leaders. We also hear about his recent adventure in the world of rearing chickens, why his Grand Slam celebrations were cut short and how, for a period at Diageo, he was the biggest buyer of alcohol in the world. David was interviewed by Fraser Allen on 30 March 2021. www.allencomms.co.uk
At the age of just 23, Louise Worrall was a navigator in the Royal Navy, guiding a minehunter around the globe. It was her dream job. But just a year so later, her naval career was cut short by Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. Previously undiagnosed in Louise, the effects of this disability rapidly escalated before she knew what was happening to her. Louise’s story about the impact this had on her, and how she now approaches life in a new role as a financial advisor is – and for once the word is justified – inspirational. Louise was interviewed by Fraser Allen in front of a live Scottish Business Network audience on Zoom on March 16 2021. www.allencomms.co.uk
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