20 – 21 February, 2020
Radisson Blu Hotel, Glasgow

"Inclusive growth is growth that creates opportunities for all and distributes the dividend of increased prosperity fairly"
- Scottish Government

Headline Sponsor


Speakers are listed as they appear on the agenda.

Julie Welsh, Director, Scotland Excel

Julie Welsh is the Director of Scotland Excel, the Centre of Procurement Expertise for local government. As the organisation’s senior officer, she provides leadership and strategic direction to ensure its services are aligned to the needs of the sector. Since taking up her post in September 2014, Julie has implemented strategies to extend the range of services provided by Scotland Excel, extend the influence of the organisation in the wider public sector landscape, and secure its future as a leading shared service.

Julie has more than 20 years leadership and procurement experience in the public and private sector. Before joining Scotland Excel, she spent five years with Renfrewshire Council where she was Head of Procurement and Business Support. Prior to this, she held senior procurement roles at Glasgow Housing Association and Scottish Power, and has worked within the manufacturing, higher education and transport sectors. Julie holds an MBA from Glasgow University and has been a Member of the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply since 2001.

Dr Gary Gillespie, FAcSS, Chief Economic Adviser, Scottish Government

Gary was appointed Director and Scottish Government Chief Economist in 2011. He joined the civil service in 2000 from the Fraser of Allander Institute (University of Strathclyde) where his research interests included Scottish economy, regional economic modelling and foreign direct investment.

His current role in providing economic advice to the First Minister is one of the most visible within the public sector in Scotland. He publishes regular assessments of the State of the Economy and analysis of key impacts on changes in the Scottish and UK economies. He is a regular participant in economic discussion across Scotland, the UK and internationally.

He was made an Honorary Professor at Glasgow Caledonian University in January 2011 and was appointed to the role of Visiting Professor at the University of Strathclyde in 2015. He was also appointed a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in 2017.

Councillor Joe Cullinane, Leader, North Ayrshire Council

Councillor Joe Cullinane was elected as a Labour representative for Kilwinning at the May 2012 and May 2017 local government elections. He was appointed Leader of North Ayrshire Council on 30 August 2016 and on 17 May 2017 following a change in Administration. In September 2019, it was announced that Councillor Cullinane would join the Scottish Labour Party Shadow Cabinet, leading on Campaigns and Party Engagement.

Since becoming Leader he has been appointed Chair of the North Ayrshire Community Planning Partnership and the Ayrshire Shared Services Committee. He also sits on the Economic Development & Regeneration Strategy Board and is a non-Executive Board Member of NHS Ayrshire and Arran. Councillor Cullinane is also a member of the Kilwinning Locality Planning Group.

At COSLA, Councillor Cullinane sits on two Executive Groups; the Resources and Capacity Executive Group and the Strategic HR Management Group as well as attending COSLA Leaders’ and COSLA Convention.

Born and raised in North Ayrshire, he studied politics and history at university and graduated with a 2:1 degree in 2008.

Graeme Sutherland, Project Account Manager, Scotland Excel

Graeme holds a broad range of procurement and supply experience having carried out variety of roles in his profession and in several sectors including local government, oil and gas, marine defence and electronics.

Graeme’s main specialism industry is construction. He is a structural building designer to trade and has delivered several national construction contracts while at Scotland Excel.

Professor Russel Griggs OBE, Chair, South of Scotland Enterprise

Professor Russel Griggs started his career in marketing in the pharmaceutical industry and then moved to the consumer flooring industry before becoming CEO of an industrial textile company in England in the 1980s. In 1990 he joined Scottish Enterprise (SE) in a business development role and became an Executive Director of SE where he ran the investment banking and business development arms, as well as spending some years in the USA looking at outward investment for Scottish companies.

Since then he has held a number of non-executive positions in the private, public and third sector, as well as undertaking a variety of strategic work for public bodies and private companies. From 2007 to 2010, Professor Griggs was Chair of the CBI’s UK SME Council and of various other government committees. He was also until recently a Board member and Chair of the Audit Committee of Visit Scotland, a Board member of Scottish Enterprise, a Non-Executive Director of the Scottish Government and a Board member and Chair of the Audit Committee of the Department for Employment and Learning in Northern Ireland.

He currently chairs the Scottish Government’s independent Regulatory Review Group who advise and work on better regulation in Scotland. In 2011 he was appointed jointly by the banks, industry, and UK Government as the Independent External Reviewer to the task force for clearing banks in the UK to ‘audit’ their new appeals process for businesses appealing against credit being declined.

He is honorary Professor of the University of Glasgow. He was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list in 2008 for services to Scottish industry.

Vanessa Robertson, Perth & Kinross Council

Vanessa is Team Leader in the Corporate Procurement Team at Perth & Kinross Council, leading a team with responsibility for supporting the delivery of Community Benefits through the Council’s procurement activity. Vanessa has over 20 years public sector experience and joined the Procurement Team in 2008 to deliver the Councils e-Procurement project. Since then, Vanessa has worked in a variety of procurement roles working with teams across the Council to enhance their existing processes and deliver benefits to the Council through better procurement. She has extensive knowledge of both pre and post-contract activity. Vanessa is currently studying for her final exams to gain her full Chartered Status and MCIPS qualification.

Lynette Lees, Head of Finances & Corporate Services, Clydebank Housing Association

Lynette Lees FCCA, Head of Finance and Corporate Services, graduated from Glasgow Caledonian University with a BA (Hons) in June 2001. She completed her professional accountancy exams and became fully qualified in June 2005 to become a member of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants and became a fellow member in 2011. Before joining the CHA senior staff team in August 2007, she was responsible for auditing a wide range of Housing Associations and Local Housing Organisations in the Glasgow area. As well as heading up the finance and administration team responsible for production of short, medium and long term projections and regular monitoring and reporting thereof, Lynette oversees and monitors all aspects of procurement and asset management and aims to ensure high performance and value for money is achieved in the delivery of CHA services, contracts and capital purchases. Lynette takes the lead in administrating our CHA Power and Radnor Park Homes subsidiaries and ensures compliance with appropriate statutory, regulatory and accounting requirements alongside high levels of governance.

Jillian Gibson, Training Officer - Participatory Budgeting, COSLA

Jillian works in the Participatory Budgeting (PB) Team at COSLA working with and supporting Scotland’s local authorities in their strategic approach towards meeting the 1% Framework Agreement; which outlines that councils agreed to commit at least 1% of council budgets to participatory budgeting by the end 2021. Since joining COSLA in 2019 Jillian has been working on profiling and promoting PB as a mechanism for enhancing participation and engagement; developing training and support materials for Elected Members and council staff; thematic work to bring PB and Procurement and PB and Education closer together, alongside work to progress and develop CONSUL, a digital platform for citizen participation and engagement. Prior to working at COSLA Jillian spent 16 years in local government working for Argyll and Bute Council and Stirling Council.

Wendy Davies, Commercial Director of Bendcrete Leisure Ltd

Wendy is the Commercial Director of Bendcrete Leisure Ltd and is passionate about getting the nation active and involved in recreational activities and sport. Bendcrete is not only one of the country’s leading concrete skatepark builders, but is also involved in providing climbing facilities, parkour, scooter parks and concrete table tennis tables. With over 20 years’ experience carrying out public consultations, Wendy is an expert in what works to produce the best community facilities and can help community groups develop their initial ideas into a masterplan for their park that encourages and engages the community to participate in getting active. Wendy is also a level 2 British Triathlon Coach and Triathlon GB-Age Group Athlete at World and European level and uses these skills and energy when working with youth and community groups.

Nicola Denegri MA, CIPD, ILM, Principal Consultant and Head of Coaching, Kissing With Confidence

Nicky is an experienced learning and development professional who joined Kissing With Confidence in April 2012, after a decade spent in the legal sector in the City of London.

With a degree in modern languages from the University of Edinburgh, she started her career in learning and development fifteen years ago, honing her skills with Scottish Equitable, Kingsley Napley, and then moving to the legal sector joining Reynolds Porter Chamberlain LLP, where as Head of Learning & Development she led a team focused on designing and delivering strategic change and leadership development programmes.

In her most recent role she spent a significant amount of time dealing with development of new and aspiring partners through both development programmes and one-to-one coaching. She has worked with hundreds of lawyers and partners, helping them navigate the choppy waters of career transition and enhance the key management and leadership skills required as they progress.

As a coach and trainer this interest around helping people define “What next?” and “How do I get there?” is conducted with a weather eye to a hard-edged, outcome-focussed approach, whilst building relationships and trust quickly along the way.

Nicky delivers training and development in areas such as influencing, impact and business development. She works with people at all levels of the organisation in both the design and delivery of training, enjoying the “rough and tumble” of the training room and the challenging questions people throw at her.

Chris Oswald, Equality & Investment Manager, Regional Economic Development, Scottish Government

Chris joined the Scottish Government Cities Team in September 2019 where he focuses on equality and investment ensuring that the opportunities presented by Scotland’s City & Regional Deals is shared by women, ethnic minorities, disabled people and people living in our most deprived communities.

Prior to joining the Government Chris worked with the Equality& Human Rights Commission in Scotland for ten years as the head of Policy & Communications, having occupied similar roles with GBs statutory bodies on race and disability in the 2000s. In a varied career Chris has worked with homeless people, youth work, and the NHS always with a focus on social justice and equality issues.

Colin Taylor, Housing Services Manager, Scotland Excel

Colin Taylor is Housing Services Manager at Scotland Excel leading a team with responsibility for Associate Members and recently delivering the Procurement Improvement Programme to housing associations for Scottish Government. Colin regularly speaks at events to promote the importance of procurement in delivering social value back into every community. Colin joined Scotland Excel in 2008 providing support to Scotland’s councils before taking up this role in April 2017.

Alistair Kerr, Director & Chair of the British Association for Supported Employment (BASE) Scotland

Alistair was a Member of the AFSE - NASE network from 2002 until the merger with the BASE network in 2006.

The BASE network supports disabled & disadvantaged people across the UK and Europe using sustainable procurement legislation and supporting an inclusive growth strategy to transform lives. Alistair has held various board positions within the three bodies. He is recognised by UK governments as a champion of the Social Model of Disability – Sustainable Procurement.

In 2012 Alistair supported the First Minister to launch the Supported Business Advisory Board in partnership with senior procurement officials from the Scottish Government’s Procurement Directorate. The same year, Alistair supported the First Minister to launch a ground-breaking social enterprise in Scotland in response to thousands of disabled workers being made redundant in the UK.

Alistair enabled the Scottish Government’s Sustainable Procurement Strategy & Duty to be enacted for those who meet EU procurement definitions and the Scottish Government’s two-part test to tender for public and private sector contracts. He also enables supported businesses and social businesses to employ disabled or disadvantaged people across Scotland.

Co-developer of three Supported Business Procurement Frameworks – for Scotland Excel, Scottish Government Procurement and NHS Strategic Procurement.

Neil Findlay, Head of Social Bite

With a background in Sales and Management, Neil joined Social Bite in June 2018 to manage corporate relationships in Glasgow for Social Bite's unique 4 cities-on-one-night 'Sleep in the Park' December event. The Glasgow event took place alongside simultaneous events held in Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen on a very cold December night in 2018.

Following the success of the 2018 events Neil went on to head Social Bite's catering delivery service and oversee their growth and operations across Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. With their production kitchen facility in Livingston, not only do Social Bite supply their own delicious handmade food for team meetings and events; they also supply their products for retail sale in staff canteens and student refectories - with customers including Napier University, Aberdeen City Council and Scottish Enterprise.

Having recently been recognised as a 'Supported Business' Neil is keen to raise awareness of Social Bite's services and engage more closely with more public sector customers.

Cleland Sneddon, Chief Executive, South Lanarkshire Council

Cleland Sneddon was appointed Chief Executive of South Lanarkshire Council in January 2020 following a successful period as Chief Executive of Argyll and Bute Council. With over 30 years’ experience in local government, Cleland maintains a strong focus on developing links with communities and industry to encourage new sustainable employment that recognises the unique opportunities in South Lanarkshire.

Originally from Wishaw in North Lanarkshire, Cleland haws spent the majority of his career in Lanarkshire, working for a number of local authorities including Motherwell and Clydesdale District Councils, Strathclyde Regional Council, South Lanarkshire Council, Midlothian Council and Argyll and Bute Council before arriving back at South Lanarkshire Council in 2020.

He has held management posts across a range of service areas including Education, Social Work, Housing, Leisure and Communities as well as HR, corporate policy and operations. Cleland also has a BA in Public Administration from Robert Gordon University, an MBA from the University of Glasgow and an MSc in Local Government Management from the University of Strathclyde.

Rhoda Grant, MSP for Highlands and Islands & Co-Convenor of the Scottish Parliament Cross Party Group on Human Trafficking

Born in Stornoway, brought up on the south shores of Loch Torridon in Wester Ross and now living in Inverness, Rhoda has experience of living in both rural and urban areas of the Highlands and Islands, giving her the knowledge to understand the various challenges faced by our communities.

Rhoda has worked in both the public and private sectors in the Highlands. Employed for a number of years with the public sector trade union Unison and The Highland Council, then as a Member of the Scottish Parliament between 1999 and 2003, then again from 2007.

Rhoda has held many Shadow Cabinet roles including Rural and Connectivity Cabinet Secretary, Shadow Women and Equalities Spokesperson, Shadow Health Minister, Business Manager and Whip. She is currently the Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Finance, and Shadow Minister for Economy.

Bridget Lambert, Strategic Procurement Manager, Renfrewshire Council

Bridget joined Renfrewshire Council in 2014 and took up the post of Strategic Procurement Manager in 2016. She manages a skilled team of procurement professionals, responsible for all of the Council’s external procurement spend.

Bridget started her career in public sector procurement in 2006 with the Authorities Buying Consortium. Previously a contracts manager in the private sector the move to public sector brought new opportunities including the opportunity to complete her CIPS qualifications, achieving full MCIPS Status in 2012.

Bridget is the Chair of the Scottish Local Government Procurement Forum and represents the local authority sector on the Scottish Government Procurement Policy Forum.

Laura Neill, Assistant Economic Development Manager (Employability), Renfrewshire Council

Laura has worked in economic development since 1992, delivering and managing programmes and initiatives offering opportunities for unemployed people to secure sustainable employment. Educated at the University of the West of Scotland, Paisley, Laura achieved a BA Business Management graduating in 2001. She is committed to delivering opportunities which create economic impact and contribute to changing lives and is currently employed by Renfrewshire Council as an Assistant Economic Development Manager. Laura currently is the manager of Renfrewshire Council’s Employability Hub and manages a team that deliver training opportunities and job outcomes for unemployed people looking for employment.

Nicola Deans, Procurement Officer, South Ayrshire Council

After graduating from the University of Strathclyde, Nicola joined South Ayrshire Council in 2014. Over the last two years, Nicola has worked within the Contract and Supplier Management team to embed a contract monitoring process across council services. In addition, a key part of Nicola’s work has been to implement a unique, collaborative approach with colleagues in Community Engagement to see community benefits being delivered within the local area. These approaches have been recognised in the sector as best practice.

Stuart Calderwood, Community Benefits & Sustainable Procurement Manager, Aberdeen City Council

Stuart is Community Benefits & Sustainable Procurement Manager for the Shared Service with more than 21 years’ local government experience – six of those in a procurement role relating to sustainable procurement and community benefits. Stuart is passionate about community benefits, equalities, environmental and socio-economic value and the inclusive participation of the third sector in public procurement.

Donnie MacRae, L&D Project Manager, Scotland Excel Academy

Donnie is a proven Learning & Development and Operational Manager with more than 25 years’ multi-sector experience. He has expert knowledge and application of all aspects of the training cycle with significant experience in embedding new/start up client campaigns, including the associated regulatory and compliance frameworks. And he has extensive experience in driving operational performance within both established and start up business operations.

David Kerr, Senior Procurement Specialist, Scotland Excel

David Kerr is Senior Procurement Specialist for Scotland Excel’s ICT frameworks. He has a BEng in Electronics from Paisley College of Technology, as well as a degree in Maths and Physics from the Open University which has fuelled a passion for sub particle physics, quantum mechanics and Stochastic systems. David is the Scotland Excel representative on the Scottish Government Climate Change Forum.