March 20th 2018 | Sheraton Hotel, Edinburgh


Chairwoman: Pennie Taylor

Broadcaster and Journalist

Pennie Taylor is an award-winning freelance journalist and broadcaster. BBC Scotland’s first Health Correspondent, she has also worked on the newsdesks of a number of newspapers including Scotland on Sunday and the Sunday Herald, a title that she helped to launch.

Pennie regularly commentates for radio and television on current affairs. A former Head of Communications for the-then Lothian University Hospitals NHS Trust, Pennie has inside knowledge of how the public sector works. This gives her a uniquely informed perspective from which to approach and stimulate debate.

Professor Phillip John

Executive Chair, SCHOLAR Forum

Phillip John BSc, PhD, DSc is Professor of Chemistry and former Senior Dean at Heriot-Watt University.  He has over 180 publications, managed over fifty research grants, supervised over thirty PhD students and given numerous invited lectures at international conferences.

Apart from his teaching, research and administrative duties he has, since the inception of SCHOLAR headed the academic development team and, since 2003, been Executive Chair of SCHOLAR ( which currently provides innovative online courses to all 32 Education Authorities, 5 Regional FE colleges and 32 independent schools in Scotland.

Recently SCHOLAR has completed a major multi-million pound enhancement to 33 courses at National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher level in Maths, Sciences, Languages and Business subjects. A complete suite of National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher English courses was published in August 2016.

SCHOLAR is continuing to attract international attention as one of the world’s largest e-learning programmes for schools.

Irene Johnson

Head Teacher, Thornton Primary School

Irene has been the HT of Thornton since 2004. Her professional experience includes teaching and leading in the primary, secondary and special educational sectors. It has been her vision to raise aspiration in the community and particular achievements as a leader are i. the increase in numbers of gypsy traveller children attending nursery, primary and secondary school; ii. extensive partnership working with the University of St Andrews, the Robertson Trust and local businesses; iii. the development of academic programmes in Science and now STEM; v. a well-established ethos of inclusion and v. family engagement in learning. Irene is committed to inclusion and equity and is currently working on programmes which will help to develop a holistic approach to gender equality across schools building on the work which led to the school’s success in the Scottish Education Awards.

Sinead O Donnell

Head of HR, Power & Control, Raytheon UK

Sinead O’ Donnell is Senior HR business Partner for Power & Control business, Scotland. As a member of the HR LT, she proactively participates on HR Projects and deliverables across Raytheon UK to understand the business needs and enabling   real value in all streams including through our People Strategy, Strategic Workforce Planning, Talent Development, Business Opportunities and Learning and Development

Upon successful completion of her BA (Hons) in Computing in 1996, Sinead joined a Graduate Programme as a Computer Programmer.  In 1998, Sinead joined an international software organisation IMR Global (NI) as a Software Manager and successfully managed multiple programmes for programmes for international clients.  Sinead gained a wealth of experience in leading effective cross-site multi-disciplined teams, contract negotiations, requirements capture, and Risk and Opportunity management.

Sinead joined Raytheon UK as a Software Team Lead in 2000 and was instrumental in setting up the green field site.  In this role she built excellent customer relationships both internal and external to Raytheon and was effective in leading and developing the project teams that reported into her. In 2003 Sinead worked at Harlow facility as Programme Manager for CMMI change programme and successfully delivered CMMI Level accreditation for Raytheon UK in 2004

In 2005 Sinead was asked to undertake the RTN UK Learning and Development Manager Role to promote Learning and Development throughout Raytheon UK.  During this time Sinead deployed a Learning and Development Council across RSL supported by the RSL Leadership. Sinead was the Raytheon UK representative at the Raytheon Learning Forums. 

Sinead's HR career developed as she undertook more responsibility promoted to Central Services Manager and HR Business Partner.

In 2009 Sinead relocated to RSL Glenrothes to take the role of Senior HR Business Partner and joined the Glenrothes Leadership Team. Sinead has developed her leadership and coaching skills in managing and strengthening multiple teams based on her development of Leadership Development Coaching through Insights Discovery Coaching delivering this as part of the HR team of practitioners both across UK and internationally.  

Sinead has supported both Raytheon Malaga and Raytheon Elcan leading the local HR team members and partnering with the business leaders.

Sinead began studying for a post graduate qualification in Human Resources in 2008.  Sinead received Chartered Membership of CIPD (Chartered Institute for Personnel Development).

In 2011 and has recently received Chartered Fellow. Sinead has recently completed Raytheon Leadership Excellence Programme.

Sinead has been involved in Raytheon UK Women’s Network, Raytheon UK Diversion & Inclusion and recently spoke at UK STEM event (Science Technology Engineering Maths) as an ambassador to encourage the involvement of school children in career choices in these sectors.

Margaret Craw

Physics Teacher and responsible for Developing the Young Workforce, ‎Dalziel High School

Margaret Craw graduated from Glasgow University with a Bsc(Hons) Degree in Physics. Margaret then worked in the Space Industry as a Technical Consultant in Satellite manufacture. Working for many of the leading companies in the sector, Aerospatiale, Alcatel Space Industry and working along with the European Space Industry in various locations within Europe. She stayed in this sector for 16 years.

A departure from this sector saw Margaret embark on a Career in Teaching. Having taught abroad in Italy, Margaret returned to Scotland 9 years ago and has been working in Dalziel High School in Motherwell as a Physics Teacher. She has actively put together a strong STEM programme that is delivered with the help of industry partners such as Amec Foster Wheeler. In the last year Margaret has been involved in setting up the Developing the Young Workforce within Dalziel High School.

Vivien Crummey

Marketing Manager, Digital World

Vivien has worked in marketing for over 25 years. Her experience spans senior roles in financial services, charity, the arts and more recently the public sector. Vivien is currently in charge of the marketing of Digital World, the careers campaign for Scotland’s ICT/Digital technologies sector which launched in October 2015 through partnership working between Scotland’s tech sector and Skills Development Scotland.

The campaign has seen great success and has over 10k followers on social media, over 200k web sessions and an encouraging 50/50 male / female split in visitors to the website,

Professor Ian Allison

Dean of the School of Engineering and Computing, University of the West of Scotland

Professor Ian Allison, Dean of the School of Engineering and Computing at University of the West of Scotland is an experienced practitioner and leader in both the academic and commercial sectors.

Professor Allison's academic achievements include a PhD for a thesis entitled “Software Process Improvement as Emergent Change: a Structurational Analysis” and a Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching in Higher Education.

His academic role has grown over 20 years, initially through course and subject leadership, and then with School-wide responsibility for academic quality and standards at Nottingham Trent University. From 2007 Professor Allison was Head of School at Robert Gordon University (RGU).

A Fellow of the British Computer Society, with Charted Engineer and Chartered IT Professional status Professor Allison is also a member of the ScotlandIS Board.

He has maintained a commercial outlook to his work through consultancy, knowledge-transfer and applied research projects in manufacturing, software, oil and gas, and engineering companies and is now Chairing the Digital Skills Partnership to help to address the skills shortage in Scotland.

Ian C Ritchie CBE

Non-executive Chairman of Iomart plc, Computer Applications Service, and Krotos

Ian founded OWL in 1984 which pioneered hypertext application development (a forerunner to the world wide web) and sold the company to Panasonic in 1989. Since then he has been involved in over 40 start-up high-tech businesses.

He serves on the board of Red Fox Media, the Edinburgh International Science Festival, the National Theatre of Scotland, and Chairs the Board of Our Dynamic Earth, Edinburgh's Science Centre. He is a Trustee of the Saltire Foundation and The David Hume Institute. 

He was a board member of Channel 4 TV (2000-2006) deputy Chairman of the Edinburgh International Film Festival (2002-2011), Vice President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (2012-2016) and Honorary Treasurer of the Royal Academy of Engineering (2012-2016). He was awarded a CBE in 2003 for services to Enterprise and Education.
He has a degree in Computer Science from Heriot-Watt University (1973) and has been awarded Honorary Doctorates by Robert Gordons, Abertay, Heriot-Watt and Edinburgh Universities. He was widowed in 2001 and has two grown up children.


Claudette Millar

Skills Development Scotland

Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP

Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science, Scottish Government

Educated at Kirkcaldy High School, she then graduated from the University of Strathclyde with a BA (Hons) in Economics and Politics (1996), followed by a Diploma in Housing Studies at the University of Stirling and a Diploma in Public Relations from Queen Margaret University College.

She has worked as a parliamentary researcher, a Policy and Public Affairs Officer at the Chartered Institute of Housing and as a Media and Campaigns Officer at the Royal College of Nursing.

Shirley-Anne was previously an MSP for the Lothians region from 2007 to 2011, and returned to the Scottish Parliament in 2016 as MSP for Dunfermline.

Stuart McDonald

Seric Systems

As founder and Managing Director of IT security & infrastructure firm, Seric Systems, Stuart knows that it’s vital to roll with the punches. He explains, “In IT the grass grows quickly under your feet: four years from now, 80% of our business might well be coming from something that’s only just reaching our radar now.”

It’s this insight and adaptability that has helped Stuart build Seric into one of the UK’s largest independent security and fraud prevention firms.

His business aside, much of Stuart’s focus these days includes mentoring young people. Encouraging entrepreneurship amongst schoolchildren is another passion, both as a board member of Young Enterprise Scotland and with SmartSTEMs, an organization he set up which encourages girls from P6/7 and S1-S2 to get involved in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

Stuart also sits on the School of Computing’s Industry Advisory Board, helping to ensure that UWS students get a degree that is as relevant as possible to the demands of industry. 

Paul Beaumont

Head of Section, Scottish Education Research Centre


Paul Beaumont has been at SSERC since 2008 and is Head of Section (Biology and Chemistry).  Having graduated with a PhD in photobiology and radiation biology Paul taught secondary school chemistry before a move to the University of Texas (Austin) for postdoctoral work.  In 1983 Paul returned to the UK and became Head of Science at the North East Wales Institute.  In 1998, Paul was appointed Head of Natural and Applied Sciences at Edge Hill University College and was responsible, inter alia, for PGCE Secondary Science training.  Between 2001 and 2008, Paul was Director of Science and Plants for Schools a charity which aims to interest young people in plant science and molecular biology.  Paul has presented the RSC Worthington Schools’ Lecture as well as contributing to the Royal Institution’s Schools Lecture Programme.  Paul has wide experience in the development and delivery of CPD activities across primary and secondary sectors.

Evelyn Walker

UK & Ireland Project Management Lead, Hewlett Packard Enterprise

Evelyn Walker, UK & Ireland Project Management Lead for all Project Managers and PMO teams at Hewlett Packard Enterprise. Evelyn has previously co-introduced and co-led the HPE UK&I Graduate programme supporting 450+ graduates at 10 different sites in the UK and Ireland.

With over 25 years’ experience in the IT and drinks industries, Evelyn has held a variety of national, regional and global positions in operational and program management. Each role has presented unique challenges operating across many geographies and time zones and including management of culturally diverse and dispersed teams.

On a personal level, Evelyn’s passion is the support and education of others. She is Chairperson of Skills Development Scotland; Digital Technologies Skills Group - Gender Gap initiative; and mentors and coaches primary and secondary school students and undergraduate students at UWS. Evelyn also works closely with Young Enterprise Scotland, where she is a Business Advisor to the Teachers and Students.

Based in the South Side of Glasgow, Evelyn lives with her husband and two sons and in her spare time loves to spend time at her home on the little Island of Millport as this allows her to indulge in her passion for photography and cycling.

Derek McInally

Principal Teacher of Technology, Webster's High School

Derek McInally has been a secondary school teacher for 30 years working in secondary education across the Central belt and Tayside regions.   His discipline subject is Business Education and presently he is working as a Principal Teacher Curriculum (PTC) in charge of Business, Computing Science and Technical Education.  As a PTC, Derek is responsible for:- curriculum planning and development, assessment in BGE and Senior Phase, monitoring and tracking of pupils progress and Quality Assurance and Improvement Planning within his curriculum group.  

He has recently taken on the role of STEM coordinator within his current school of Webster’s High School, Kirriemuir in Angus.

Derek recognises the importance of STEM for the future prosperity of the Scottish economy and equally its significance in releasing the potential of our young people.

Derek has considerable experience of working with the Scottish Qualification Authority (SQA) having fulfilled the role of Senior Verifier and Senior Examiner for Business Management.   He has worked with Chinese colleagues in Beijing and Shanghai to support the SQA delivery of exams in this emerging market.

Andy Nagel


Amanda Gray

Scottish Stemette, Regional Associate, Stemettes

@stemettes @amanda_gray6

 Amanda is responsible for expanding the award-winning social enterprise Stemettes into Scotland - with the goal of bringing more free, fun and food-filled events to girls and young women across the region. Her passion and enthusiasm for STEM gender equality shows in the success of her work –most recently garnering an audience of more than 25,000 pupils across the UK & Ireland to watch new documentary 'Eat. Sleep. STEM. Repeat.' at school screenings. They'll be experiencing a powerful medium showing that girls do STEM too.

She is also a qualified Petroleum Geologist with two years’ experience in the oil & gas industry. She worked on projects in the North Sea, Tanzania and Uruguay, and visited an onshore oil rig in Kazakhstan! Her work has been presented at the Geological Society of London and has been referenced in the journal Marine Geology. She has also accepted a place to completed a PhD at Heriot Watt University.

Phil Worms

Scotland IS

Phil has enjoyed a very varied career having started as a Corporate Catering Executive and Special Events Manager with BT. Phil eventually moved from Special Events into mainstream BT Marketing, where he was responsible for the creation of a face to face and events sales channel.

In 1993, and recognising the emergence of the internet, Phil left BT to create his own online gift delivery business, a venture that resulted in him winning the inaugural Daily Mail UK E-commerce award. Following the successful sale of the business to a competitor, Phil joined Texas based Telco VarTec before moving his family to Scotland to join cloud computing firm iomart Group plc to roll out the UK’s first consumer broadband service. Phil’s iomart career spanned 15 years culminating in the role of Chief Marketing Officer before he left in 2016 to pursue his dream of creating a skills academy and social hub in his hometown of Helensburgh.

Phil has joined ScotlandIS as a project lead to develop a framework that will support Scotland wide extracurricular ICT initiatives for young people.

Keith Neish

Project Manager, Amec Foster Wheeler


Keith is a Chartered Mechanical Engineer with vast design engineering experience in the offshore oil and gas sector, from small modifications through to major capex and highly complex projects.  Having worked at Amec Foster Wheeler for over 10 years, he has worked his way from the graduate scheme to running the Mechanical engineering discipline where he managed engineering teams to deliver against technically challenging demands.  In his current role as Business Project Manager, Keith is leading a project to increase standardization and efficiencies across employee competence which will be adopted by both Amec Foster Wheeler and the wider oil & gas industry. 

Keith is an active IMechE mentor assisting developing engineers to achieve chartered status, and in 2012 he won the Oil & Gas UK award for Overall Excellence.  In his spare time he enjoys badminton, yoga and long walks with his dog, Archie.

Madeline Johnston

Computer Games Technology student, University of the West of Scotland

When I was in school, the games industry was not considered a serious career option and I was provided with very little information. Following some research relating to my course options I came across Computer Games Technology; the combination of technology and creative skills appealed to me.

I was expecting very few female students on the course as it seemed like a mainly male dominated industry. I was pleasantly surprised to find other girls on the course; they inspired me to keep going and pursue my ambitions.

I have been building my skills over the past few years; I have progressed from commencing my university studies without any programming experience to confidently preparing for my honours year. My subject discipline allows me to study a range of options when I achieve my degree. I would like to work in the “Serious Games” industry with a main focus on educational games and the medical field.

Joanne Jarvie

 Science Teacher, Thornton Primary School

Joanne began teaching at Thornton Primary School in 2007 and in 2009 started teaching Science as a discrete subject throughout the school. She was an Edina Trust Science Consultant between 2010 and 2014, distributing £220,000 to schools across Fife and helping them to develop their own Science programmes.

In 2013 Joanne was a Cluster Mentor as part of SSERC’s Primary Cluster Programme in Science and Technology and in 2014 she developed and wrote the Beyond the Panda Primary Resource Pack for the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland.

In 2015 Joanne became a College Fellow of the Primary Science Teaching Trust, after receiving one of their Primary Science Teacher Awards, and is hoping to get funding from them to develop a new parent and pupil programme called STEAM For All!

In the same year she began to develop and write the STEAM Learning Journey resource for Fife schools and, in partnership with SSERC, the resource was launched across Fife in October 2016.

Joanne was recently asked to become one of the Trustees of the Edina Trust and will take up this post in the near future, helping to distribute funds that will enhance the teaching and learning of science throughout the UK.

Tom Caira

Senior Lecturer, School of Engineering and Computing, University of the West of Scotland

I am passionate about education in all its various forms. I see education as a panacea for a lot of the ills that beset this great country of ours. It is my passionate belief that calculated, considered and continuous investment in education - in all its various forms - can lead to a reduction in demand on the welfare state; a reduction in alcohol and drug abuse; a reduction in violence and crime; an increase in tolerance, integrity and fair-play; an increase in opportunity for enterprise and entrepreneurship; an increase in employment prospects for school, college and university leavers;  a positive impact on the NHS; and a better standard of life for all.

I spent the first part of my career working in the private sector as a computer programmer and business systems analyst and the last 23 years in academia at the University of the West of Scotland. I have worked in a range of organisations from large multi-nationals right through to very small local businesses. I have also been involved in setting up and running five computing and IT consultancy companies. I have remained in close contact with industry throughout my time in academia and feel it is essential for universities and industry to work in close partnership. I chair the UWS Industrial Advisory Board for Computing which currently has around 70 industry members, ranging from large multi-nationals (IBM, Microsoft, Cisco, Oracle, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Dell, Lenovo, Morgan Stanley, Thermo Fisher Scientific) through to small and medium-sized West/Central Scotland based organisations.

I see a great need to prepare graduates properly for employment and to encourage them to consider opportunities for creating start-up companies, dreaming big and pushing themselves out of their comfort zone. It saddens me greatly to see graduates in the final year of their studies, saddled with debt and desperately wondering how they can get a job. What I really want is to see them wondering is "How can I change the world?" I do everything I can to change that mind-set and to motivate and encourage them to become the business leaders and independent thinkers of tomorrow

Jennifer Davidson

Teacher, Thornton Primary School

Jen Davidson has been teaching for nearly 20 years, after gaining her BEd (Hons). She is currently teaching P6/7 at Thornton Primary School having gained experience across all stages. She is an active member of school leadership groups, shouldering responsibility for i. First Chances Programme in partnership with St. Andrews University; ii. Development of STEAM skill-based learning across Social subjects planning; iii. Implementation of active numeracy plans as a result of pedagogical review.

Jen is also the school’s Expressive Arts co-ordinator and successfully leads the Glee and Drama clubs, having forged meaningful relationships with the community and embedding family participation. She has responsibility for the school’s House System, involving pupils, parents and the community in events throughout the year.

Jen has also led Cluster initiatives, developing CfE programmes such as the Open Top Tour programme (an active Social Studies pack). 

Stephanie Graham

Vice Principal Educational Leadership, West College Scotland

Stephanie is the Vice Principal Educational Leadership at West College Scotland. This is the largest college in Scotland with around 25,000 students and 1,200 staff and situated in the main towns of Paisley, Greenock and Clydebank. Stephanie’s role is to lead the curriculum, quality and student support services delivery and development across the College. This includes ensuring the curriculum is continually enhanced to meet student and employer needs. The last few years have been very focused on restructuring and establishing the new West College Scotland, after its creation in 2013, following the regionalisation of the College sector and merger of Reid Kerr, Clydebank and James Watt Colleges.

Stephanie has had almost 30 years in Further Education, starting her career teaching design in Falkirk College and later moving to management positions there, in Anniesland and Clydebank Colleges. Her previous work for Education Scotland as an Associate Assessor and currently as a Board member of the College Development Network Committee has involved her in working with colleges across Scotland.