As a journalist and member of the Scottish Business Network, I was keen to start a fortnightly podcast interviewing the big personalities of the Scottish business world. Dip in - you'll hear from some amazing people! Available on Apple Music, Spotify and all the main podcast platforms. If you like what you hear, simply search for 'Scottish Business Network' on your preferred podcast provider and subscribe. Thank you.
Martin Cawley: Champion of communities, inclusion and helping people realise their full potential
Martin Cawley is a popular and influential figure in Scotland’s third sector. From the early stages of his career at the NHS and then at the family support charity Quarriers, he’s been excited by innovation, committed to inclusion, and driven by a desire to help people realise their full potential. Martin's now bringing his experience to Beatson Cancer Care, having successfully steered the Glasgow-based charity through the pandemic crisis. He's also a former CEO of Turning Point Scotland and Scotland’s Director for the National Lottery Community Fund.
Interviewed by Fraser Allen on 13 June 2022.
Ray Perman: Author, entrepreneur & business leader
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.
Professor Calum MacRae: The GP's son from Skye at the heart of Boston's life sciences sector
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.
Damian Riley-Smith: Publishing & drinks entrepreneur
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.
Philip Grant: Chair of Scottish Financial Enterprise & leading Scottish banker
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.
Shona Fleming: Supporting Scots in London
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.