2018 WeDO Scotland Conference Round-Up

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Al Kellock

The 2018 WeDO Scotland Conference took place on the 17th of May at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh.  Guests enjoyed a packed day of outstanding speakers, a fascinating debate with our panel as well as thought-provoking, skills driven workshops.

Our opening speaker was Al KellockScottish Rugby Union, Co-Founder of Finsbay & former Scotland Rugby Captain.  Al shared great analogies between the rugby pitch and business including the importance of creating a winning culture, living the values of your business as a team, being proud of your achievements and the benefits to be gained from constantly striving to improve.  These tips were interspersed with Al’s trademark humour & positivity.

Debate Panel from L to R: Jackie Waring, Tim Allan, Jo Macsween, Paul Atkinson & Belinda Roberts

Mid-way through the morning, we welcomed our esteemed panel who debated “Scotland’s Future:  what lies ahead?”.  Joining us on the panel were:

Jo Macsween – Chair Vistage UK, Women’s Enterprise Scotland Ambassador, Director of Oran Consulting and Scottish Business Task Force member that the Scotland Office.

Tim Allan – President of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, Chief Executive of Unicorn Property Group, Founder & Director of Motor Fuel Group/Murco, Deputy Chair of the Campaign Board at the V & A Museum of Design in Dundee and Non-Executive Board member of the University Court at the St Andrews.

Paul Atkinson – Founding Partner at Par Equity & Executive Chairman of Taranata Group and winner of the inaugural 2017 WeDO Inspiring Leader of the Year Award.

Jackie Waring – Founder & CEO of Investing Women & Managing Director of Blue Horizons (Scotland).

It was fascinating to hear their views on the Scottish economy as a whole, the new taxation system in Scotland, as well as opportunities and challenges for Scottish businesses.  Thankfully Brexit didn’t dominate the discussions although labour shortages were felt be all to be of considerable concern to all of the panel.  It proved to be an interactive session with plenty of questions from attendees and overall, we were left feeling positive about what lies ahead.

Gary Burns

The second speaker was our 2017 New Start Business Award winner, Gary Burns of CarGo Seat.  Gary has been through the mill more than most entrepreneurs starting a new business.  It was great to hear about his business journey to date including the struggles he has faced and overcome.  Delegates were impressed with his passion and his determination to continue to manufacture CarGo Seats in Scotland despite the cost savings offered by China.

Our morning workshops were hosted by Nikki Wyness & Ian McMurdo of Scottish Enterprise – “How We Can Support You & Your Business”, Suzie McCafferty of  Platinum Wave, -“Sourcing & Building a Winning Team to Maximise Growth” and James Williamson of  Moovii – “Video Marketing:  Catapult Your Business into the 21st Century”.

Since the Scottish sun had made an all to rare appearance, delegates enjoyed lunch outside on the terrace where many new introductions were made resulting in a record number of meetings being arranged.

After lunch, Gaynor Turner of Macintyres of Edinburgh and Ambassador in our Edinburgh Executive Team announced and presented Alan Steel of Alan Steel Asset Management with our 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award.  Alan is a phenomenon in the financial services sector and an inspirational, resilient, outstanding entrepreneur of 43 years standing. There aren’t many of us who can say that they’ve been through and survived 5 stock market crashes! Our congratulations again to Alan on an extremely well deserved Award.

Calum Paterson

Our next speaker was Calum Paterson, Managing Partner of Scottish Equity Partners, the venture capital and private equity fund management business headquartered in Glasgow.  With more than 25 years’ experience in the industry, Calum shared his insightful overview of the private equity & venture capital landscapes, including that of the VC/PE £26 billion invested in the past 5 years, 86% of it has been for SMEs.  The SEP portfolio currently has over 5,000 employees with revenues of £1.2 billion and have made 160 investments and exited 300 companies, including Skyscanner.  

Our afternoon workshops followed where delegates attended sessions with Matt Little of  Zonefox – “Cyber Security 101 – Not Alway the Bad Guys from the Outside”, Liz Hoskin of Positive Qualities – “How to Have A Good Day Every Day” and Lynsey Jenkins of Zonefox – “Developing a Measurable Marketing Strategy to Drive Business Growth”.  

Marcus Pickering

 Our penultimate speaker of the day was our 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year Award winner, Marcus Pickering of Pickering’s Gin.  He shared with us the amazing story of how Pickering’s was born when he was given a gin recipe dated 17th July 1947 from a friend of his father’s and he and co-founder Matt Gemmell went from novices in the drinks trade in 2013 to where they are today exporting to 17 countries with turnover of £3.5 million.  A true entrepreneurial success story.

Mollie Hughes

Our final speaker was Mollie Hughes, the youngest woman in the world to have summited both sides of Mount Everest.  Mollie shared with us 4 key factors tying in her experiences of what can only be seen as the ultimate challenge in mountaineering and how they relate to the world of business.  The ability to control fear, the power of self belief, the importance of resilience and perseverance.  Delegates were mesmerised by her story, an outstanding and remarkable young lady.

WeDO members, Edinburgh Communications who had a showcase stand in the breakout area, kindly donated a Samsung tablet to be entered into a prize draw at the end of the day which was won by Andrew Johnstone of Loft Boarding Scotland – not a bad bonus for joining us!

Our thanks to all of our speakers, our panel members, our workshop hosts and of course to everyone who attended without whom the day wouldn’t have been such a success.  Our thanks also to our sponsors BQ & Anything Hosted and to Dynamic Earth for looking after us so well on the day.  2018 will be a tough act to follow for next year but we’re looking forward to it already!

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