Clare English

Clare English, BBC Presenter and Journalist

Clare is an experienced broadcast journalist who has undertaken a variety of roles covering topics from politics and current affairs to cooking and eating disorders. She covered political reporting at Westminster interviewing senior politicians and MPs and covered news and current affairs for BBC Radio 4. More recently Clare worked with Glasgow Life on a digital story telling project in the run up to the Commonwealth Games. This involved training/ inspiring many Glasgow Life staff to make innovative and eye catching films. Clare currently works as a broadcast journalist with BBC Scotland.


Challenges to Growth: Building your team

John Ferguson

John Ferguson is a senior consultant at Future Proof Learning.  John has worked for 20 years in developing individuals and teams across a broad spectrum of business leadership and talent management.  He has worked particularly at board, executive and high-potential recruit levels.
He has experience in a range of sectors including legal, oil and gas, financial services, telecoms, fast moving consumer goods and the public sector.  John places particular emphasis on working with individuals and teams to align them to tangible business goals and to make sure that the organisation is maintaining and developing its skills for the future.

Chris van der Kuyl

How to grow your business

Chris Van Der Kuyl

Chris van der Kuyl is a digital entrepreneur and Chairman and co-Founder of 4J Studios, one of the UK’s most successful videogame developers responsible for Minecraft Console editions. More recently, he became Chairman of Puny Astronaut who are bringing their first game to market.  Chris is also Chairman of TVSquared, a fast growing data analytics company, Chairman of Broker Insights, a start up insurtech company and the founding Chairman of Entrepreneurial Scotland.  Chris sits on many advisory boards and is a board member of several local charities.  Chris has been awarded honorary degrees from many of Scotland’s leading universities in recognition of his contribution to enterprise.

Strathclyde Business School

Routes to Success

John Anderson

John Anderson is Head of SME engagement at the University of Strathclyde Business School.
John will speak about some of the key lessons from the Business School’s Growth Advantage Programme and outline some case studies of SMEs that have gained from the programme noting their key challenges and how they’ve tackled them.

In addition to John’s role at the business school he is also an experienced non-executive chairman and director in growing businesses as a chairman of the Gabriel Investments Angel Syndicate. Former chief executive of The Entrepreneurial Exchange John is also a CA and has worked with many of Scotland’s exciting growth companies such as Atlantech Technologies and Awards PLC.

Stephen Whitelaw


Stephen Whitelaw

In 1988 Stephen Whitelaw founded Buchanan International Inc in Silicon Valley and 10 years later spun out Actis Technology Ltd. He has a proven track record of managing and growing technology businesses through strong financial and personnel management skills and has often been described as a rebel without a pause!

His highly energetic nature and deep knowledge of the internet has enabled him to travel the world engaging with companies large and small offering consultancy and training on many of the web technologies affecting so many businesses today.

Marcus Pickering

PR & Marketing Panel

Marcus Pickering

Marcus Pickering is Co-founder of the eponymous Pickering’s Gin, established as Edinburgh’s first gin distillery back in 2013. Distilled in the former small animal kennels of the Old (Royal Dick) Veterinary School in Edinburgh, Pickering’s Gin is now available in 17 countries worldwide. Before a fateful Bombay gin recipe came along, Marcus had a varied career turning his hand to everything from building & construction work to Butlering at Skibo Castle, art restoration to arts village management.  Marcus co-founded the four-year old distillery with business partner Matt Gammell who, in his own words, “delivers on my mad ideas that everyone else says are impossible.” From Christmas baubles full of gin, to a miniature Japanese fire engine pumping gin through its hoses, Marcus brings creative flair and an entrepreneurial spirit to everything he does.

Laurna Woods

Laurna Woods is CEO of integrated communications firm Beattie, founded more than 32 years ago in Scotland and now one of the UK’s leading independent agencies, headquartered in London. A former journalist, Laurna has been at the forefront of the communications industry for 24 years, advising the UK’s most recognised names in business including Specsavers, M&S, Merck, Unilever and Apex Hotels as well as some of the most dynamic SMEs across the country. She has also been involved in the handling many of the biggest crises ever to hit Scotland including the world’s worst outbreak of e-coli and the collapse of Europe’s biggest inward investment deal, once destined for Fife.
Riding the crest of the digital revolution, she has shifted Beattie from a pure play PR operator to a truly integrated marketing and communications provider, and last year took the Beattie model global with expansion across Canada.