Responding to COVID-19: insight, support and guidance

Our speakers

Scotland’s Collective Challenge 2020

Scotland Collective Challenge

Ben Macpherson MSP, Minister for Public Finance and Migration

Ben MacphersonBen is a qualified solicitor and has worked in a number of roles in the private, public and third sectors, including as a commercial lawyer. His previous employment also includes working in the renewable energy sector, a school, hospitality, financial services and for an NGO.

He studied at both the University of Edinburgh and the University of York.

Ben, who is from Edinburgh, was elected as MSP for Edinburgh Northern and Leith in May 2016.

Martin Booth, Senior Vice Chair, CIPFA Scotland

Martin BoothMartin is Executive Director of Finance at Glasgow City Council and has been in post since May 2018, after spending eight years as Director of Finance and Corporate Services at Glasgow Life. Prior to this Martin worked for COSLA where he led on negotiations with the Scottish Government over financial settlements and drafted the Concordat.

Martin was previously Managing Director of Isoplan and also worked in management consultancy for IBM and PWC. Martin started his career as a trainee accountant with Glasgow District Council and worked for a number of local authorities before being part of the Senior Management Team that opened HMP Kilmarnock. Outside of work Martin is a keen golfer, having served as Captain of Whitecraigs Golf Club, and is also a Rugby referee.

Paul Cairney, Professor, University of Stirling

Paul CairneyPaul Cairney is Professor of Politics and Public Policy, University of Stirling, UK (@Cairneypaul). He draws on studies of policy and policymaking to explain the use of evidence, in one book (The Politics of Evidence-Based Policy Making, 2016), several articles, and many blog posts:

Nick Davies, Programme Director, Institute for Government

Nick is the Programme Director leading the Institute for Government’s work on public services, outsourcing and infrastructure. Before joining the Institute, Nick worked for a variety of charities and as a parliamentary researcher for an MP. Nick has been a commentator for print, radio and TV, for outlets including Sky News, Newsnight, BBC Breakfast, BBC Radio 5 Live, the Guardian, the Times and the Telegraph. 

Kezia Dugdale, Director, John Smith Centre

Kezia DugdaleKezia Dugdale is Director of the John Smith Centre. Based at the University of Glasgow, the non-partisan centre exists to make the positive case for politics and public service through the promotion of civilised debate and high quality research. It also seeks to support people with the talent, but not the means, to access politics and public life.

Prior to joining the John Smith Centre, Kezia was a member of the Scottish Parliament for the Lothians region for eight years, during which she led her party through four national elections and the EU referendum. Beyond her working life, Kezia serves on the board of Shelter UK and Sistema Scotland.

John Kelly, Director Client Investments, CCLA

John KellyJohn Kelly is responsible for managing relationships with CCLA clients and has over 30 years of experience in investment markets. He joined CCLA in 2007 from Abbey, where he was Director of retail channels with investment responsibility for the pension fund. 

Previously, John was the investment director for Barclays Unit Trust business in the UK and overseas. John is a chartered MSCI.

Fiona Kordiak, Past Chair, CIPFA Scotland

Fiona Kordiak

Fiona has been Director of Audit Services in Audit Scotland since 2006 and is a member of the management team. She has overall responsibility for the in-house annual audit team and the Professional Support Team which provides professional and technical support to Audit Scotland staff and the firms.

Fiona has been with Audit Scotland and its predecessor body since 1987 and qualified with CIPFA in 1989. She is a member of LASAAC, FRAB, the FRC Audit and Assurance Council and is the past chair of CIPFA Scotland.

Brian Roberts, Chair of CIPFA Governance & Financial Management Panel

Brian RobertsBrian was appointed finance commissioner for Northamptonshire County Council in 2018 and is the former director of corporate resources and deputy chief executive at Leicestershire County Council. Previously, he worked at Staffordshire County Council, Hampshire County Council, the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, Hart District Council and Merseyside County Council.

Brian qualified as an accountant in 1980 and was CIPFA President in 2016. He was a member and past president of the Society of County Treasurers and he has also been an LGA core finance adviser and past president of the Association of Local Government Treasurers. Brian is currently a national council member of CIPFA and a trustee of the Centre for Public Scrutiny.

Brian is Chair of CIPFA Governance and Financial Management Panel.

Alan Ross, Senior Risk Management Consultant, Zurich


Alan has over 15 years' risk management experience. While with Zurich he has delivered a range of risk and resilience consultancy services for our customers. Invariably this means working with senior managers on risk and resilience, and includes projects on enterprise risk management, business continuity, crisis and incident management, supply chain risk, and horizon scanning.

Alan is trained in facilitation, training others, and PRINCE 2 project management. Previously Alan worked for 2 blue chip companies, spending five years in financial services and telecoms, as well as a short time in the charity sector.

Alan Sinclair, Author

Alan SinclairAlan has only recently recovered from being born in Bellshill. His book Right from the Start: investing in parents and babies came out in 2018.

He set up Heatwise Glasgow - which later became the Wise group- which he led for 17 years. They pioneered an approach that combined work and training that got thousands of long-term unemployed people into work.

For five years he was the Senior Director for Skills and Learning in Scottish Enterprise. His responsibilities included modern apprenticeship, youth employment programmes, Career Scotland and the creation of Scottish labour market intelligence. He has been on advisory groups in Westminster and Holyrood and held non-executive positions on charitable and private boards. Each year he spends a number of weeks advising and training senior staff in a global consultancy firm.

In 2000 he was awarded a CBE for his work with training unemployed people. He has a passion for supporting parents and children and supports a number of people in local authorities, government and charities who are engaged with parents and children.

Donella Steel, Chair, CIPFA Scotland

Donella SteelDonella Steel has been the Director of Finance and Performance of Historic Environment Scotland since 2017 and is the current Chair of CIPFA in Scotland. Donella has responsibility for a range of corporate functions including finance, procurement, grant schemes, corporate analysis and performance and information governance.

Donella has worked in the public sector for more than 20 years including senior finance roles for Scottish Natural Heritage and the Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service.

In 2014, she received the Iain Doig CIPFA award for her contributions to innovation, leadership and support to CIPFA.

Jill Young MBE VLL, Chief Executive, NHS Louisa Jordan

Jill Young

Jill was appointed in March 2020 as Chief Executive to design, build and manage the NHS Louisa Jordan Hospital, Scotland’s only 1100 bed COVID-19 hospital with full operational functionality to include ICU, Diagnostic and Pharmacy departments in the SEC Conference Centre Glasgow.

This commission was delivered in just over two weeks. The hospital remains ready to stand up in seven days for complete mobilisation to care for COVID-19 patients from all over Scotland. Currently the hospital is being used to see elective out-patients, diagnostic x-rays and CT scans to assist the NHS in clearing the backlog due to COVID-19. It is also being used for training, skills and educational programmes for doctors, nurses and a range of other NHS staff.

Due to the success of the NHS Louisa Jordan build, Jill was also asked to lead Scotland’s COVID-19 Testing Programme which has seen testing capacity go from 250 tests per day to over 30,000 per day and will continue to increase to more than double this volume over the coming months. She also works closely with SAS to mobilise 18 mobile testing units to outbreak areas around Scotland (recently Military run), coordinating numerous drive through test centres and various laboratory and academic hubs to process tests. This is an exceptional programme being delivered at a scale and pace never  seen before - to protect Scotland’s community and the NHS.  

Her previous substantive post was as Chief Executive for the NHS Golden Jubilee Foundation for 14 years. As a unique ‘flagship’ NHS Board for Scotland, it comprises the Golden Jubilee National Hospital, a 4* conference hotel, a research institute and the National Innovation Centre.