Speakers at Scotland 2017 Conference

Leading commentators and speakers at Scotland's leading public finance event in 2017

CIPFA Scotland Annual Public Finance Conference

CIPFA Scotland Public Finance Conference 2017, Fairmont St Andrews | Join the discussion: #cipfascot Follow the conversation on Twitter

Derek Mackay MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Constitution 

Derek MacKay Derek is currently SNP Business Convener (Chairman of the Party), responsible for chairing Conference, the National Executive and the management and administration of the party. He was appointed cabinet secretary for finance and constitution in May 2016.

Elected to Renfrewshire Council in 1999 at the age of 21, he was the youngest male councillor in Scotland at the time, becoming a national figure in local government leading the SNP group at COSLA (Convention of Scottish Local Authorities) from 2009 to 2011. He served on the Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board as a non-executive director and chair of Renfrewshire Community Health Partnership (2007 to 2011).

MSP for Renfrewshire North and West since 2011, Derek previously served as minister for transport and islands and minister for local government and planning.

Keith Aitken, journalist, author and broadcaster

Keith AitkenKeith Aitken is an award-winning journalist, and an author, broadcaster, podcaster and one of Scotland’s busiest events facilitators. His career began with more than 16 years’ service on The Scotsman in senior editorial roles. Since launching his successful freelance business in 1995, Keith has written for numerous UK and overseas publications, and has been a regular columnist for The Scotsman, The Herald, Scotland on Sunday, and Holyrood Magazine. He currently writes a weekly column, now in its 18th year, in the Scottish Daily Express. Keith is also Scotland correspondent for Public Finance magazine.

John Carnochan OBE QPM (hon.) LLD FFPH, consultant and former police officer 

John CarnochanJohn was until February 2013 a detective chief superintendent with Strathclyde Police. He was a police officer for almost 39 years working mostly as a detective and was involved in various roles in the investigation of serious crime, in particular as senior investigating officer in murder inquiries. He was deputy head of the Criminal Investigation Department. In January 2005, together with a colleague, John established the Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) with the aim of developing a strategy that would bring about sustainable reductions in violence within Strathclyde. In April 2006 the VRU assumed a Scotland-wide role and continue to be supported by the Scottish Government. Their fundamental tenet is that “violence is preventable – not inevitable”. In June 2014 John 'retired' and now works as an independent consultant and adviser on violence prevention, effective partnership working and leadership.

Colin Cook, Acting Director Digital, Scottish Government

Colin CookColin has recently been appointed as acting director digital at Scottish Government. This follows previous roles as head of the digital public services and business transformation division which included responsibility for Scottish Government’s Civtech incubator, digital transformation service and national ecosystem unit and as head of the digital strategy and programmes division where he was responsible for the delivery of superfast broadband, promoting digital skills and tackling digital exclusion.

Outside of Scottish Government, Colin’s experience includes spells as marketing director, British Army and both marketing director and service specification director of Royal Mail’s core letters business. Colin is a trustee of The Poppy Factory, a charity dedicated to helping wounded, sick and disabled ex-service people back into work and a regular speaker on digital, marketing and IT issues.

Harry Gaskell, Senior Partner – Chief Innovation Officer, EY

Harry GaskellHarry is EY’s UK and Ireland Chief Innovation Officer and a member of EY’s UK and Ireland leadership team. He ensures that EY uses digital technologies to support its clients’ transformations and to launch new innovative services.  He has over 30 years' consulting experience focused on helping organisations make major changes to their business, culture or organisation. Harry has experience of designing and leading major change and transformation programmes involving strategy, process, people and IT. These have included organisation redesign, major outsourcing, cost reduction and new business creation.


Robert Herdman, Clinical Hypnotherapist and Success Coach

Frank McAverty web

Robert has been working as a clinical hypnotherapist and success coach over the past ten years and is the author of three books on the subjects. He has travelled throughout the world learning his craft and has trained with and studied some of the most influential trainers and coaches in personal development and hypnosis. He has studied the top performers in business and sport and has taken fundamental principles of all high achievers in their field and packaged these principles into his own unique corporate training programme, helping businesses and companies develop the mindset of their workforce. 

Michael Johnson, Research Fellow, Centre for Policy Studies

Michael Johnson

Michael is a research fellow at the Centre for Policy Studies (CPS). He trained with JP Morgan in New York and, after 21 years in investment banking, joined Towers Watson, the actuarial consultants. Subsequently he was responsible for the running of David Cameron’s Economic Competitiveness Policy Group. Michael is the author of a number of pensions-related papers for the CPS, sometimes supported by both Conservative and Labour peers. In 2010 (Simplification is the Key) he proposed scrapping the annuitisation requirement ('freedom and choice') and unifying ISAs and pension products; in 2013 he proposed (dashboard) aggregation and the pooling of the LGPS’s funds, and he was instrumental in the introduction of the Lifetime ISA and bonus. More recently he detailed proposals for a Workplace ISA to compete with occupational pension products, residing within the Lifetime ISA. Michael is occasionally consulted on pension reform by serving ministers, shadow ministers and the Cabinet Office. He has given oral and written evidence to select committees in both Houses of Parliament.

Laura Lee, Chief Executive, Maggies Centres UK

Laura LeeLaura worked as a clinical nurse specialist in Edinburgh, where she gave chemotherapy to Maggie Keswick Jencks; Laura shared Maggie’s vision of a cancer support centre housed in a non-clinical and uplifting environment where anybody affected by cancer could visit to access practical information and psychological and emotional support to help them build a life beyond a cancer diagnosis. There are now 20 centres with plans for future centres both in the UK and overseas. Laura is a member of the British Architectural Trust Board. In 2016 Laura was awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor from Queen Margaret University.


Frank McAveety, Leader, Glasgow City Council

Frank McAverty WebCouncillor McAveety was born and raised in Glasgow and has served as an elected representative of the city since 1988, first elected as a member of Glasgow District Council, and later serving as leader of Glasgow City Council from 1997 to 1999. He was elected to the Scottish Parliament for the Glasgow Shettleston constituency in 1999, serving in the Scottish Executive in a number of ministerial positions. During his tenure as minister he established the National Theatre of Scotland and successfully campaigned to bring the headquarters of Sportscotland to the East End of Glasgow. On his re-election in 2007, he was appointed convener of the Public Petitions Committee of the Parliament. In 2012, he was elected to Glasgow City Council for the Shettleston ward, convening the Sustainability and Environment Policy Committee and taking on special responsibility for cycling. Councillor McAveety was again elected as leader of Glasgow City Council in September 2015.

Alastair Muir, NATS Director Prestwick

AMuirAlastair Muir is the Director for the NATS Prestwick Air Traffic Control (ATC) Centre that provides ATC services to the Northern UK and North Atlantic, one of the largest airspace responsibilities in Europe. In 2016 Prestwick managed over 1 million aircraft and with the Southampton centre NATS controlled over 2.5 million. Muir has been in the industry for over 30 years in a variety of operational, technical, political and senior management positions in the UK, France and Belgium. He has chaired multiple European industry groups and is currently chair of the UN aviation organisation (ICAO) North Atlantic Implementation Management Group. He is also a member of Court for the University of the West of Scotland and is a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society.

Esther Roberton, Chair, NHS 24

Esther RobertonEsther was appointed as chair of the NHS 24 board in April 2015 and is also a member of the board of the Scottish Ambulance Service (since July 2014) and served as a non-executive director with the Scottish Government from February 2014 to January 2017. From 1999 to 2009 she was a non-executive director of the Scottish Council for Development and Industry (SCDI) and was appointed a Fellow of SCDI for outstanding service. She was a founder member of the Scottish Further Education Funding Council and chair from 2001 until the council was wound up in October 2005. From 2000 until 2004, she was chair of NHS Fife and served as a member of court at the University of Dundee (from 2001 until 2007).

Nicky Waters, Senior Managing Consultant, C.Co

Nicky WatersNicky is part of C.Co, CIPFA’s new consultancy service. Following a ten-year career in the events and communication industry in Scotland, she entered local government through the National Graduate Development Programme after gaining a Master's Degree. Her passion for communication has remained while working in partnership with local authorities and national government to transform public services in England, Wales and New Zealand. As a change leader and programme manager, Nicky has delivered award winning change in both the private and public sectors. She went on to become the programme lead for a unitary authority’s change and transformation programme before moving into consultancy. She continues to work with a wide range of subject matter and in a variety of context from children’s service to bio security, community budget pilots to spin out organisations

Christopher Wroath, Director of Digital Transformation, NHS Education For Scotland

Christopher WroathChristopher is a public sector information specialist, having worked across the health, culture and communication sectors. While employed by the Cabinet Office Christopher worked with the newly formed Government Digital Service and their development and application of Cloud and Agile based services. Currently working in the Scottish NHS transforming a complex information landscape into a unified environment putting individual members of the NHS and social care workforce at the centre of wholly redesigned services. This involves defining and delivering the NHS Education for Scotland (NES) vision for a comprehensive digital transformation by implementing dynamic change through agile approaches to technical, cultural and organisational challenges by leading the design and in house build of Turas, the NES digital platform.