Keynote speaker and panellists

Keynote - Benny Higgins // Formerly Standard Life, RBS, HBOS, Tesco
Keynote - Benny Higgins
Chairman, NED, Trustee
Formerly Standard Life, RBS, HBOS, Tesco

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 COVID19.

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, Markerstudy, Non-Executive Chairman, AAB Wealth (Anderson Anderson & Brown Wealth), Chairman, The Fine Art Society (London & Edinburgh), Chairman, Edinburgh Fringe Society, Trustee of Burrell Renaissance, Non Executive Director of Arabian Centres and Chairman of N4 Partners.

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.

Allan Wernham // CMS Law
Allan Wernham
Managing Director, Scotland

As Managing Director Scotland, Allan is responsible for leading the firm’s ambitious growth strategy in Scotland, building on over 250 years of heritage and a market-leading reputation in the key sectors of the 21st century economy.

Panellist - Kate Forbes MSP //
Panellist - Kate Forbes MSP
Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Economy

Kate Forbes was appointed as Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Economy in May 2021.

Kate Forbes is the Member of the Scottish Parliament for the Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch constituency (which includes Dingwall, the Black Isle and the Great Glen) and Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Economy in the Scottish Government.

Kate 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.

She was successfully re-elected as the constituency MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch on 7 May 2021.

She was formally appointed as Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Economy on 20 May 2021.

Panellist - Iain Docherty // University of Stirling
Panellist - Iain Docherty
Professor of Public Policy and Governance
University of Stirling

Iain Docherty BSc PhD FAcSS FRSE FRSA FRGS FICE FHEA CMILT is Dean of the Institute for Advanced Studies and Professor of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Stirling.

Iain’s research and teaching addresses the interconnecting issues of public administration, institutional change and city and regional competitiveness, with particular emphasis on the structures and processes of local and regional governance, policies for delivering improved economic performance and environmental sustainability, and the development and implementation of strategic planning and transport policies. His total research and consultancy awards exceed £2.5 million.

Iain has worked with and advised a range of private sector, governmental and other organisations including governments and public agencies in the UK, US, Australia, Canada, The Netherlands and Sweden, and the OECD. In 2015 he was appointed by the ESRC and Innovate UK as one of five Thought Leaders working to integrate scientific innovation and social science research across the UK, and subsequently as one of the Co-Investigators and Infrastructure Theme Lead of the £1.2m ESRC Productivity Insights Network bringing together leading social science academics to help address the UK economy’s resilient productivity gap. He is currently one of three senior researchers leading the EPSRC-funded project on the transport and mobility implications of the COVID-19 pandemic. His other current roles include Scottish Ministers’ appointee on the governance boards overseeing the revised National Transport Strategy, Strategic Transport Projects Review and Scottish Climate Assembly.

Panellist - Maggie McGinlay // ETZ Ltd
Panellist - Maggie McGinlay
Chief Executive

Maggie McGinlay is Chief Executive of ETZ Ltd, the Aberdeen based company supporting delivery of the North East of Scotland’s ambition to be a globally recognised centre for energy transition delivering on net zero. Maggie leads the implementation of the flagship Energy Transition Zone project located next to Aberdeen South Harbour which will be at the heart of a sustainable, integrated energy transition cluster. The project is supported by Scottish Government, UK Government and Opportunity North East (ONE). Maggie is an expert in the energy sector and economic development and is a member of the Scottish Government’s Advisory Council for Economic Transformation.

Panellist - Murdo Fraser MSP //
Panellist - Murdo Fraser MSP
Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Covid recovery with in the Scottish Conservatives and MSP for Mid Scotland & Fife

Murdo Fraser has been MSP for Mid-Scotland & Fife since 2001. He is the Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Covid Recovery and sits on the Scottish Parliament’s Covid-19 Recovery Committee.

Murdo lives with his wife and two children in Perthshire. Born in 1965 and educated at Inverness Royal Academy, he graduated LLB from Aberdeen University in 1986, and went on to do the postgraduate Diploma in Legal Studies. He has since worked as a solicitor in Aberdeen and Edinburgh and prior to his election to the Scottish Parliament was an associate with Ketchen and Stevens WS in Edinburgh, specialising in commercial law.

Murdo held the position of Deputy Leader of the Scottish Conservatives from November 2005 to November 2011 and has previously been Scottish Conservative Spokesman on Economy, Health, Education, and Enterprise & Lifelong Learning. He is co-convenor of the Cross-Party Groups on Scotch Whisky and Pakistan.

Murdo is Chairman of Trustees of the National Prayer Breakfast for Scotland, a Trustee of the Guardians of Scotland Trust, a patron of the Conservative Christian Fellowship and a member of the Scotland-Malawi Partnership. Publications include: “The Blue Book: Scottish Conservatism in the 21st century” (2006), and “The Rivals: Montrose and Argyll and the struggle for Scotland” (Birlinn 2015).

Murdo’s interests outside politics include hillwalking (he has climbed Kilimanjaro and more than half of Scotland’s 284 Munros), football, classic cars, travel (especially Africa), and Scottish history.

Panellist - Peter Tipler // Xodus
Panellist - Peter Tipler

Peter Tipler is a director at global energy consultancy, Xodus, and Managing Director of newly established non-profit-making X-Academy which aims to prioritise meaningful impact whilst creating the next generation of energy professionals who will deliver a net zero future for Scotland and beyond.