International speakers offer cross-sectoral 'view from the bridge' at New Era of Business conference

A former communications director in the United States Senate and a special adviser to the United Nations will be among the high-profile international speakers sharing their views on the future of work, business and society during a conference in Aberdeen next month.

Organised by the University of Aberdeen Business School, the New Era of Business conference on June 8 is open to senior business leaders from across Scotland to discuss the key issues and share ideas around the core themes of the economy, communication, environmental social and corporate governance, third sector and research post-pandemic.

Speakers will include Dr Robert Traynham who has been at the intersection of communications, technology, politics and public policy for nearly 25 years. Credited with revolutionising the integration of data-driven communications, he served in the United States Senate as a communications director and deputy chief of staff for nearly a decade, was a chief spokesperson for an incumbent United States President and a spokesperson for Wal-Mart and the Comcast television network.

Now a member of the University of Aberdeen Court, he will be joined by Paul Watchman, special legal adviser to UN’s Net Zero Insurance Alliance, UNEPFI. An internationally recognised pioneering lawyer who has been influential in the development of policy, business and financial practice, national and international legal norms and voluntary codes and standards, he is a highly respected thought leader in Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG), climate change and environmental law and policy, sustainable finance, business and human rights.

Delegates at the half-day event will also hear from Tracy Black, Scottish Director of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI). Alongside a varied and distinguished career in the financial services sector where she worked with top tier global financial institutions like Goldman Sachs International and UBS AG, she has experience of working with a range of SMEs and entrepreneurial start-ups and sits on the Board of Skills Development Scotland among others.

Edel Harris OBE, chief executive officer of Mencap, the UK’s largest charity working with and for people with a learning disability, will look at the role of charities in a post-covid world. A former Institute of Directors North East Director of the Year and Scottish EY Entrepreneur of the Year, she started her career in the Metropolitan Police and spent several years working within NHS Grampian.

Completing the panel is Professor Keith Bender, SIRE Professor of Economics at the University and Business School and the Director of Research. Originally from the US, his research is in the field of labour economics where he has examined such areas as the effects of institutions on labour market outcomes, the causes and effects of educational mismatch, and subjective well-being in work and in retirement. Currently, he is investigating the impact of performance-related pay on health.

Chairing the discussions will be journalist Rona Dougall, host of STV’s news and current affairs programme Scotland Tonight and columnist for The Scotsman.

Professor Norman Hutchison of the Business School said: “We have five very different and prominent speakers who will each provide a forward-thinking ‘view from the bridge’ for their respective sector. Hearing from them will not only make for a very interesting afternoon, but we hope it will also provide tangible intelligence to illuminate, inform and inspire business leaders to look at the future of their own operations and develop robust strategies for growth in the new era we find ourselves in.”

A New Era of Business Conference 2022 takes place from 12.15pm on June 8 at Kings College Conference Centre. To register to attend visit here.

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