September 12th 2019 | Dynamic Earth, Edinburgh


Willy Roe CBE

Trustee, British Council, and Chair, Scotland Advisory Committee

Willy Roe is an independent consultant in public service reform, leadership development, service design and innovation, and education and training. He was recently appointed a Trustee of the British Council which works in 140 countries around the world, including the countries of the UK, on the whole range of educational and cultural opportunities, currently focussing on building a stronger global network on vocational training and skills. He is also Chair of the British Council’s Scotland Advisory Committee amongst other achievements, including being awarded a CBE for public service in the Highlands and Islands, and an Honorary Doctorate by The Open University for his work on social work reform.

Sally Charles

Business Development Manager, Robert Gordon University

Sally joined Robert Gordon University (RGU) in 2016 with responsibility for developing a Graduate Apprenticeship (GA) model at the University.  RGU had initiated this project in response to the national need for advanced vocational learning as identified by the Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce Commission and the subsequent expansion by Skills Development Scotland of the apprenticeship family to include degree level progression.

Sally joined RGU from Aberdeen City Council where she had held a number of roles related to opportunities for young people, most recently as DYW Development Officer within education. DYW (Developing the Young Workforce) is the Scottish Government’s implementation plan in response to the Commission’s report.

Prior to working with the Council, Sally had run her own business for nearly a decade during which time she had been actively involved in educational projects involving Secondary, Further and Higher Education.  Previously she worked in media industry investment and tax and early in her career had experience in Further Education lecturing and in administering Post Graduate Higher Education.

Garry Clark

East of Scotland Development Manager, Federation of Small Businesses

Garry is Development Manager for the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in the East of Scotland, covering Edinburgh and the Lothians, Fife and the Borders.  As experts in business, FSB offers members a wide range of vital business services, including advice, financial expertise, support and a powerful voice in Government. Its aim is to help smaller businesses achieve their ambitions.

Garry graduated in Scots Law from the University of Edinburgh and practised as a solicitor before commencing a career in policy in 1999.  He worked as a researcher in the Scottish Parliament during its early years before joining the Scottish Chambers of Commerce in 2005 as Policy and Campaigns Executive, rising through the ranks to become Head of Policy and Research.  Garry joined FSB in 2018 and is passionate about creating a landscape where small businesses can thrive.

Jamie Hepburn MSP

Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills

Jamie Hepburn is the elected Member of the Scottish Parliament for the Cumbernauld and Kilsyth constituency - representing the area he lives in with his family. First elected to the Scottish Parliament in 2007 to represent the Central Scotland region, Jamie was elected to represent Cumbernauld and Kilsyth in 2011, and re-elected as the area's parliamentary representative in 2016.

Mark Mackay

Graduate Apprentice in Cyber Security at Napier University and Cortex Worldwide

After serving 8 years in the RAF Regiment which entailed four operation tours (including Afghanistan and Iraq), Mark Mackay started his Apprenticeship journey in the Quality Assurance department for Cortex Worldwide but has transferred into Management for Security Policies and Microsoft Security Development cycle (SDL). Whilst working for Cortex, Mark has gained a SVQ Level 6 in IT and Telecommunications, taking his previous medical experience onboard he passed a St. Andrews First Aid course and gained the qualification. Since September 2017, Mark has been a Graduate Apprentice in Cyber Security at Napier University and Cortex.

Susan Mackay

Managing Consultant, SQW

Susan is a Managing Consultant at SQW, one of the UK’s leading economic and social research firms. She has 15 years’ research and consultancy experience, focussed predominantly on building the evidence base to inform investment in skills, careers and employer-led skills initiatives.

Susan managed delivery of the first set of Regional Skills Assessments, as well as updates to the evidence base for a series of sectoral Skills Investment Plans, all on behalf of Skills Development Scotland and partners. Other recent work includes in-depth research into young people’s experiences of education and training and an evaluation of the Developing the young Workforce Regional Groups, both on behalf of the Scottish Government.

Elsewhere, Susan is managing delivery of a Best Practice Programme for the National Careers Service in England and the provision of Evaluation Services to the Careers and Enterprise Company, which aims to improve young people’s transitions from education to employment through increased exposure to employers and the world of work.

Prior to joining SQW in 2013, Susan worked for SDS where she led the development of the first Evaluation Strategy for the organisation. She previously worked for Slims Consulting specialising in economic and labour market analysis for sectors and regions.

Gillian McBride

Process Capability Lead and Former Apprentice, Diageo

Gillian started an engineering apprenticeship with Diageo at the Kilmarnock ‘Johnnie Walker’ factory and at that time, she was the first female engineering apprentice in Diageo.  Throughout her apprenticeship and beyond she has been sponsored by Diageo through higher education, gaining an HNC in engineering systems and a BEng in Engineering Management.  After becoming time served and working on the factory floor as a maintenance electrician for a couple of years, she moved into the Process Capability team where she was responsible for testing and approving component and pack changes whenever they were requested, such as during brand change projects, material supplier moves and capex delivery.  She then moved to the Leven site where she was the Deployment Manager on the Gordon’s gin redesign project, the operational lead for the replacement of two production lines with one high speed line and the introduction of a new Gordon’s gin pack. In her current role she manages the Process Capability team at Leven, a team of technicians working across four production halls.  

Dylan Murray

Business Insurance Team Leader, AXA Insurance

I am a current team leader with AXA insurance and a previous modern apprentice.

I joined AXA 4 years ago and completed my modern apprenticeship within 2 years and was offered the position of a business insurance advisor. I have just recently accepted the position of team leader with AXA.

Through the modern apprenticeship I managed to get my foot in the door at a worldwide organisation and could study and gain skills and experience. I gained my Certificate in Insurance and Institute of Customer service award as well as the SVQ Level 3 in financial services.

The apprenticeship programme has been key to my success in the industry and I am now helping my colleagues run this and coach our new apprentices

Peter Proud

Founder & Managing Director, Cortex Worldwide

Peter Proud is the Founder and CEO of Cortex Worldwide, a former WPP agency that has a strategic partnership with Microsoft. The two companies have jointly developed a new cloud-based marketing solution built on Azure, enabling you to quickly build, localise, secure and centrally manage your entire digital real estate. Prior to this, Peter held the role of Managing Director of Strategic Accounts and Partnerships for Accenture Interactive Digital Practice, providing integrated marketing, technology and analytics solutions for the digital world. Before joining Accenture, Peter worked at Microsoft for 14 years managing accounts for some of the world's leading household names and was integral in the establishment of Microsoft's ‘One Microsoft’ initiative. A passionate advocate for the digital technologies industry, Peter sits on both the ScotlandIS Board and Edinburgh Napier University’s Graduate Level Apprenticeship Advisory Board.

Lynn Reid

People Development Team leader, AXA Insurance

I have worked for AXA for over 17 years and have developed myself through different roles within the business, starting all those years ago as a Customer Service Advisor, moving into Sales, progressing onto Underwriting and developing my skills for a few years and decided that Team Leading was for me which has been my role for the past 11 years, most recently I was successful in becoming People Development Team Leader where I co-ordinate and facilitate the training and development of our new and existing staff. Alongside this I am responsible for recruiting for our business. 

People Development is my passion and that is why this role suits me perfectly. It allows me to be involved with our Foundation and Modern Apprentices throughout their programmes and it is a delight to see the achievement, successes and life skills that these programmes provide them. My role also provides me with the privilege of assisting in the development of our existing staff and getting the best from our people as well as developing myself in the process. 

Suzanne Sherry

Early Careers Manager, Arnold Clark

Suzanne Sherry has been with Arnold Clark since 2010, joining the Group after 19 years in corporate banking. Initially recruited in an administration role, she’s progressed through the business and now leads the company’s Early Careers team as Early Careers Manager.

Suzanne is a passionate advocate of young people and apprenticeships and has been a leading force behind the Group’s apprenticeship programme since September 2013, when she became Work Experience Coordinator for the Group.

Her team works closely with secondary schools in 32 local councils to promote work experience opportunities at Arnold Clark. In 2018, Suzanne led a company-wide rebrand of apprenticeships and spearheaded the launch of an interactive mobile apprenticeship experience that travels across the country promoting apprenticeship opportunities at Arnold Clark. Over the years, she’s forged and fortified partnerships with organisations including the Prince’s Trust, Developing the Young Workforce and Skills Development Scotland. She derives great satisfaction from giving young people their first opportunity in the working world and is motivated by helping them secure a bright future.

Suzanne lives with her partner Alan and has a little girl, Gracie. Outside of work she enjoys spending time with friends and family, going to the cinema and reading.

Dr Gill Stewart

Director of Qualifications Development, SQA

Gill Stewart is the Director of Qualifications Development within SQA with responsibility for the development of qualifications and services to meet the needs of schools, colleges, training providers and employers. Gill has led a number of successful large scale developments in education and skills, including vocational reforms and international projects. Currently Gill is working with SDS in a range of projects in the skills area including developing Foundation Apprenticeships and the future shape of National Occupational Standards.

Previously Gill worked in the University sector. Gill holds a BSc (First Class) from Edinburgh University, a PhD from the University of Glasgow and a range of leadership qualifications including the IoD Certificate in Company Direction.

Julie Strachan

Head of Learning and Teaching Development, Robert Gordon University

Julie is Head of Learning and Teaching Development at RGU with responsibility for leading on the delivery of priority actions in learning and teaching in support of the University’s strategic ambitions; aligned to this, Julie has been closely involved in the development of RGU’s Graduate Apprenticeship programme.  An experienced academic, Julie was also a Senior Lecturer in HR & Organisational Behaviour within RGU’s Aberdeen Business School and Programme Leader of the BA (Hons) Management Programme where she was responsible for the design, delivery and development of six degree courses.  Julie also has recent private sector experience, having returned to RGU in March 2017, following a number of years working as an HR Manager within the Oil & Gas Industry where she supported the rapid growth of a technology company via an intensive recruitment programme and expansion of the company’s learning and development provision. 

Jan Thomson

Director of Business Development, Fife College

Jan has over 23 years’ experience in the college sector across a number of roles including Lecturer, Business Development Manager, Head of Business School at both Carnegie College and Edinburgh College, and Head of Business Development at Edinburgh College.

In July of last year, she took up the post of Director of Business Development at Fife College, which also includes Managing Director of Carnegie Enterprise (the College’s commercial company).  In her first year, Jan led the commercial team in the achievement of a commercial Income target of over £3million that included managing the MA contract with 18 Frameworks and an annual value of over £1million. In her current role as Managing Director of Carnegie Enterprise, she has responsibility for the commercial portfolio of over £1.5million that includes the Educational and Training Portfolio.

Jan has managed a number of projects including large learning and development projects for Scottish Enterprise and Fife Council. She is a member of the recently formed College Development Network’s Commercial Steering Group, and represents Fife College on both the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Deal Skills and Innovation, and Higher and Further Education Groups. She is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. 

Rosie Wilkins

Scotland's Apprentice of the Year 2017

My career in hospitality started at The Torridon Hotel, I joined the team as a seasonal member of staff, but after being asked if I would like to join the Scottish Apprenticeship in Hospitality I decided to stay. It is a three year programme and I have worked my way through four different departments to now be the Front of House supervisor. I really enjoy what I do and have discovered my passion for the hospitality industry. Of all four departments front office has been my favourite, and I am now studying my SVQ level 3 with a focus on this. My ambition is to become a general manager. I feel very privileged to have started my career at The Torridon and to have been part of such an amazing apprenticeship scheme, I have learnt from the best and have been fully supported and inspired throughout my apprenticeship.

Steve WIlson

HSE & Training Manager, Score (Europe) Ltd

Steven has been working with Score Group plc (Score) since 2014 with responsibility to recruit and support apprentices to the company’s award winning apprenticeship programme. Score have over 250 apprentices at various stages across a variety of disciplines.  Score have recently celebrated their 30th year of training apprentices in the North East. Steven is aware of the recent drive toward Foundation and Graduate Apprenticeships and is working with RGU to develop the route as part of the company’s apprenticeship offering. Steven is well placed to understand apprenticeships having worked for twelve years with NESCol, Fraserburgh (formally Banff and Buchan College) as Curriculum Leader in Mechanical Engineering where Steven was involved in the provision of apprenticeship training to a wide variety of employers through the SDS contract held by the college. The client base included some very small companies recruiting one apprentice every second year through to large employers like Score who have intakes between 60 and 100 per year. The need to develop industrial relationships between the college and employer was paramount in the growth in modern apprenticeship offering by the college during this period.

As a graduate of RGU, Steven achieved a BSc in Electronic and Electrical Engineering in 1995 as the first 2+1 student to follow the articulation route from Banff and Buchan College. Steven has since achieved MEng in Electronic and Electrical Engineering on a part-time basis through RGU while working full time.

“The provision of clear, achievable and sustainable articulation routes toward degree level offered to employed students is essential to the development of Score as much as it has been to my own career.”  Steven Wilson

Graeme Hendry

SDS National manager - Development and Delivery, Foundation and Graduate Apprenticeships, Skills Development Scotland

Graeme manages a team of Regional Partnership and Delivery Managers whose role is to support partners to embed Foundation Apprenticeships as a mainstream option for senior phase pupils in Secondary Schools across Scotland. 

Graeme has worked for Skills Development Scotland in various roles including as a Team Leader in the Careers Information Advice and Guidance teams and as an Employer Support Executive to shape the employer engagement strategy supporting parts of the Employability Fund delivery.

Graeme also had 10 years as a Glasgow City Councillor between 2007 and 2017 and had various roles including sitting on the Council’s Executive Committee for most of that time.

David Scott

Curriculum Leader, New Lanarkshire College

David has been involved at NCL since 2011 building and developing the Modern Apprenticeship in Electronic Fire and Security Systems. Over two years ago he was internally promoted to curriculum & quality leader with the responsibility of approx 450 students and 20 staff.

In June 2018, David was recognised as 3rd most influential person in the World in the system design, installation and integration of electronic fire and security systems. This title was awarded to David due to his continued hard work and determination to improve the fire and security industry through the provision of quality training.