September 12th 2019 | Dynamic Earth, Edinburgh


Professor Alan Alexander

Academic, Writer, and Public Servant

Alan Alexander is a Scottish academic, writer, and public servant. He was General Secretary of the Royal Society of Edinburgh between 2013 and 2018.

Alan had a distinguished career in local government and academia. He retired from the University of Strathclyde in 2000 and was immediately awarded the title of Emeritus Professor. 

Since 2016 he has been Chair of the Advisory Council of the University of St Andrews Management School. In October 2018, Alan was appointed to the Board of Audit Scotland as an independent non-executive member.

Alan was awarded an OBE in the 2010 New Year Honours List. 

Jamie Hepburn MSP

Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills

Jamie Hepburn was appointed Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills in June 2018.

Jamie was educated at Hyndland Secondary and the University of Glasgow, graduating with a degree in Politics and History.

He served as National Convener of the SNP's student and youth wings, was MSP for Central Scotland between 2007 and 2011 and has been MSP for Cumbernauld and Kilsyth since 2011. He was appointed Minister for Sport, Health Improvement and Mental Health in November 2014. Jamie Hepburn was appointed Minister for Employability and Training in May 2016

Gordon Nelson

Scotland Director, Federation of Master Builders

Gordon has 15 years’ experience working for membership organisations in Scotland and joined the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) in 2014. Prior to this, he worked at the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) and for Unilever in business development, membership management and business-to-business marketing roles. Gordon has a degree in Politics and a Master’s degree in Marketing. As the Director for FMB Scotland his remit includes public affairs, media relations, member engagement and governance. Gordon is the Secretary of the Cross-Party Group on Construction in the Scottish Parliament and is a member of Site Safe Scotland – the principal committee for construction health and safety in Scotland.

Professor Douglas Bourn

Professor of Development Education and Co-Director of the Development Education Research Centre, UCL Institute of Education 

Douglas Bourne is author of Understanding Global Skills for 21st Century Professions (2018). For the past decade, global skills has been one of Douglas' main areas of interest following research in England for a range of vocational educational organisations.  Author of numerous articles and book chapters on the themes of global learning, global perspectives within higher education, global citizenship education and sustainable development education. He is also a former advisor to the UK Government in areas such as development education, education for sustainable development and global citizenship. 

Tracy Black

Director, CBI Scotland

Tracy Black was appointed Scotland Director on 1 January 2018, having first joined the CBI as Deputy Regional Director for Scotland in April 2017.
A recognised thought-leader within the Scottish business community, Tracy regularly appears on platforms alongside Scotland’s foremost political and business leaders and has a growing reputation as an essential economic commentator.

Alongside a varied and distinguished career in the financial services sector, where she worked with top tier global financial institutions like Goldman Sachs International and UBS AG, Tracy has experience of working with a range of SMEs and entrepreneurial start-ups, particularly spin-outs from the higher education sector.

Tracy has also provided advisory services to a range of start-ups and financial services companies and is currently co-owner of Carter Vintners Limited, a company producing high quality Australian wines. 
She also sits on the Board of Skills Development Scotland.

Chris Brodie

Head of Skills Planning and Sector Development, Skills Development Scotland (SDS)

Chris Brodie is Head of Skills Planning and Sector Development at Skills Development Scotland. 
Chris leads a team of more than 40 staff who are responsible for developing a robust, industry informed evidence base to inform the skills system in Scotland.
His team support skills planning across all regions and across growth and other key sectors to drive stronger alignment of the skills system with the needs of the economy. 

Chris joined SDS in 2012 and has 20 years’ experience in economic and skills development, previously as Managing Director of Slims Consulting and with UK economic and regeneration consultancies.  

Charlie Cameron

Business Support Director, AquaTerra Group

Chalie's expertise lies within strategic leadership and business management in the training and education sector, and now more broadly in the energy sector. He has over 15 years’ experience in skills, apprenticeships, and education. Formerly a Curriculum Manager at Angus College, HMIe associate assessor, and SQA External Verifier, Charlie has been with AquaTerra since 2011. AquaTerra is a supporter of the DYW and Skills Development Scotland.

AquaTerra currently has 180 people working offshore in the construction sector and the separate training arm delivers training to approximately 10,000 candidates around the world each year. He graduated from RGU in Business Management and the University of Dundee in Teaching in Further Education. Charlie started his working life in 1989 as an apprentice painter and decorator. 


Tom Clark

Managing Director, Your Future In

Tom has been a teacher and Head of Department of Subject with over thirty years teaching experience in both the private and state sectors. He has always been recognised for his innovative ways of engaging his students in their learning and teaching from regular class interaction through to developing the delivery of the exam structures as they progressed over the years. 

Tom's educational skills were recognised by an invite from the Scottish Government to be a member of The Physical Education Review Group, 2001, which was tasked with improving the provision of Physical education within all Scottish Schools.

Tom Clark’s career reflects his willingness to be innovative in his engagement of his students, and this was clearly highlighted by the introduction of Sports Leaders Awards UK. Northfield Academy was recognised as a “Model of Excellence” within Scottish Education.

Penelope Cooper

Chief Executive

Born in Wales, Penelope made her home in Scotland in 1994. She has since lived and worked in Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. Penelope is a Chartered Manager and a CIPD qualified Organisational Coach. She has considerable experience in managing organisational change in the Private, Public, and Charitable sectors. She believes passionately in the value of developing skills to improve quality of service and job satisfaction.

Penelope has been the Chief Executive at the Scottish Public Pensions Agency since July 2017. She is also a  Non-Executive Director of the Wise Group.



Russell Gunson

Director, IPPR Scotland

Russell leads IPPR Scotland, IPPR’s dedicated thinktank for Scotland. Russell set up and has grown IPPR Scotland from scratch to become one of Scotland's leading policy organisations. Before joining IPPR in 2015, Russell worked across government, parliament, and the voluntary and private sectors. Most recently, prior to moving to IPPR Scotland, Russell was director of the National Union of Students (NUS) Scotland, working on a cross-party basis within Scottish politics. Russell has taken part in a number of Reviews and Commissions in Scotland including as a commissioner on Scotland's independent Commission on Widening Access. He was a founding director of Safe Deposits Scotland, the only non-profit tenancy deposit protection scheme based in Scotland.  Russell has experience across the full range of public policy issues in Scotland

Alison Houston

Member of the Skills and Talent Steering Group, Scottish Financial Enterprise

Alison has worked in financial services for nearly 30 years and is the Head of Professional Development at RBS. Alison has a wide role with responsibility for raising standards of professionalism across the Bank. Most recently Alison has developed and launched the RBS Professional Career Development Programme, leveraging apprenticeship programmes to fully embed professional practice across the wide range of roles that exist in financial services. 

Alison is a Chartered Banker, a member of the FiSAB Skills & Talent Group and the International Compliance Association Training Advisory Board. 

Ian Hughes

Strategic Partnerships Director, CITB Scotland

A Graduate from the University of Glasgow, Ian has some 25 years Executive experience within both the private and public sectors, ranging from delivering infrastructure projects in West Africa, to Property Development across the UK within both the housing and commercial sectors.
He has worked for organisations such as the European Union and Scottish Enterprise, is a past winner of the UK Social Enterprise Entrepreneur of the Year Award, and was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts Manufacture and Commerce in 2010 for services to Enterprise.

In 2016 Ian was appointed Partnerships Director of CITB in Scotland.

CITB is the industry training board  for the construction sector in England, Scotland and Wales.
It’s our job to help the construction industry attract talent and support skills development. Annually, with a budget of £350m, we facilitate the training of over 1million people.

Funded primarily via a construction training levy, we are an executive non-departmental public body in charge of our budget and activities. Sponsored by the Department for Education, we are also accountable to government ministers, and ultimately Parliament.

Melinda Matthews-Clarkson

CEO, CodeClan

Melinda Matthews Clarkson is an experienced technology leader and CEO of CodeClan.

Melinda has lead a wide range of businesses from small, high-growth organisations  to large international sales teams within IBM.

She combines her passion for people, business skills and a positive ‘can do’ attitude, with experience in sales, business development, marketing, partnerships, supply chain and IoT.

Melinda has a BS degree in Sales and Marketing Education; certifications in Leadership, Executive Coaching and Mentoring. She was recognised  in the Top 100 Women in CRN Software in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Melinda is a champion for inclusion, diversity and inspiring  women to be the best they can be. When not at work, she can be found in her garden, on her yoga mat or in the kitchen.   

Stuart Millar

Head of Apprenticeships and Work Based Learning, Ayrshire College representing Colleges Scotland

Stuart has responsibility for college provision aimed to service industry needs for all sectors of Ayrshire’s economy with a focus on apprenticeships. The College will train almost 1000 apprentices each year with the majority of these in the engineering, manufacturing and construction industries.

With a background in engineering design in the automotive sector, Stuart joined Ayrshire College in 2009 to manage a project that developed the College's Aerospace Centre of Excellence. Ayrshire College was awarded the 2017 SEMTA Training Partner of the Year award for its support for the regional aerospace industry.

Stuart is a member of the Scottish Apprenticeship Advisory Board’s Standards and Frameworks Group. He also supports community and economic development and regeneration activity across Ayrshire and beyond.

Professor Wayne Powell

Principal and Chief Executive, Scotland's Rural College (SRUC)

Professor Wayne Powell, Principal and Chief Executive of Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), is leading SRUC’s  transformation into a 21st Century Enterprise University at the heart of the rural economy.

His previous roles include Chief Science Officer CGIAR, a global agri-food partnership and Professor and founding Director of the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) at Aberystwyth University.
He is a senior Fullbright Scholar and worked for the DuPont Company in Wilmington, Delaware, USA. 

Wayne is a member of the Science Advisory Council of DEFRA, the Scottish Science Advisory Council and Convenor of the Research and Knowledge Exchange Committee of Universities Scotland.
He is a Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales and the Royal Society of Edinburgh.  

Nora Senior

Chair, Enterprise and Skills Strategic Board

Executive Chair UK Regions/Ireland of global corporate communications consultancy, Weber Shandwick, which has 127 offices in 81 countries.
Part of EMEA operations leadership team heading up business and international affairs, advising blue-chip companies across the UK, North America, Middle East and Pan-Asia.

A former Businesswoman of the Year, she was previously Managing Director of Saatchi & Saatchi (North.) and is immediate Past President of British Chambers of Commerce and Scottish Chambers of Commerce  
She is a current Board Member of the International Chambers of Commerce and a Regional Adviser to the London Stock Exchange

As non-executive Chair of the Scottish Government’s Strategic Board for Enterprise and Skills, she has responsibility for the development of cross agency strategic planning and oversight of the performance and impacts of skills and development agencies towards improved and inclusive economic growth and ROI on £2.2 billion invested in five public sector agencies across Scotland.  The Board of 22 comprises representatives from across business, trade unions, social enterprise and local government.

She was honoured with a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2017 for services to UK businesses