The Policy Chamber both informs our focus and acts as validation for our chosen priorities and positions.
In line with the Chamber’s brand DNA, it is action oriented and focused on achieving positive outputs.
The group meets regularly and is made up of experts from across the spectrum of business sectors and specialisms in the North-east including representatives from companies based key Aberdeenshire towns.
In addition, representatives from local authorities, NESTRANS and other bodies may be invited to attend and participate in the activities of the group as appropriate.
AGCC Policy Team
Born and brought up in Aberdeen, dedicated/long suffering (delete as applicable) Dons fan Russell came home to head up the Chamber of Commerce in 2016 after a period of more than 20 years living and working in the ‘other’ North East…. of England. During this time, he worked on a number of key development and regeneration projects that supported the reinvention of that region’s economy.
Immediately before returning, Russell was managing partner of a global marketing agency network based in Newcastle. Prior to this he had a spell as regional managing director for Reach plc’s North East of England newspaper and digital division after founding and growing media, research & communications agency, Press Ahead, over a ten year period.
Russell represents AGCC and its members on various Boards and development forums including Opportunity North East, VisitAberdeenshire and the Regional Economic Strategy group to help realise the aims of the Chamber and his personal passion for making the North East Scotland an even better place to live, work, study, visit, invest and do business.
Creating a place we can be proud of for future generations.
Ryan joined AGCC in 2021 after seven years supporting the UK expansion of a leading Scottish law firm.
He is responsible for promoting the Chamber’s full suite of activities and developing new ways to communicate these to its 1,000+ members and the wider regional business community. He also leads on the vital policy, lobbying and campaign work the Chamber does on behalf of members.
Ryan is a co-founder and director of Sovereign Grooming, the luxury barbering brand with city centre salons in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow. Prior to his move into business, he enjoyed a successful, decade-long media career, holding the positions of chief reporter and latterly business editor at The Press & Journal. He was named Young Journalist of the Year at the Scottish Press Awards in 2009 and Business Journalist of the Year in 2014.
He has also been a director and board member at Aberdeen Inspired since 2018 and was elected as the organisation’s vice-chairman in the summer of 2021.
Fergus works with the Chamber as a Policy Adviser to ensure the region’s business voices are heard at the highest levels of government.
In recent years, the Chamber has spoken up loudly on behalf of business, pointing out the damaging impact on many companies of public health policies.
As we emerge from the pandemic period, it’s vital that we return to a position where we can help to design good policy rather than calling out bad. Fergus will provide a crucial bridge for that work
Between 2015 and 2020, Fergus was the SNP’s Head of Communications and Research during an intense political period covering five elections and the Brexit referendum.
He was brought up in Old Aberdeen and went on to study law at the University of Glasgow and University College London.
Heather graduated from the University of Aberdeen in 2009 with an MA(Hons) in Economics.
She then spent five years working in the third sector organising a range of fundraising events including biathlons, white water rafting, abseils and driving challenges. Following that, Heather moved into politics and for the last seven years has worked for a high-profile local MSP, running the office for the last five, dealing with policy and handling the casework.
Andrew Askew Blain
Senior associate solicitor (rural business) - Brodies LLP
Marketing and brand manager - ONE
UK Country Director - Oilfield Services & Equipment - Baker Hughes
Managing director - Langstane Press
Associate vice principal, business and economic development - Robert Gordon University
Managing Director - First Bus
Partner - Gilson Gray LLP
General manager - Park Inn by Radison
Region Business Development Manager - Hunting
External relations director - Oil & Gas UK
Director - Anderson Anderson Brown
Government affairs manager - bp
CEO - Donald Russell
Head of Communications, VisitAberdeenshire
Director - Aurora Planning
Director of Strategic Land and Planning, Stewart Milne Group
Director - CBRE
Tax partner - EY
Director of projects - Whittaker Engineering Ltd
CPD and Events Services Manager - University of Aberdeen
Commercial Manager, Fraserburgh Harbour
Partner - Ledingham Chalmers LLP
Managing director - SFF Services Limited
Managing Director - TaxAssist Accountants
Director - Siberia Bar & Hotel
Andrew Askew Blain
Andrew is a senior associate solicitor working with Brodies LLP in Aberdeen. Andrew acts for rural businesses across the North-east in a range of property matters and has experience in farm and rural estate transactions, estate advisory work, agricultural tenancies and subsidies, fishings and renewables.
Andrew is passionate about the community and helping to further the development of businesses in our region. He is in regular contact with many diversified rural businesses and has a wealth of experience representing them.
Andrew is ranked as a key lawyer in the Legal 500 UK 2022 and as an "Associate to watch" by Chambers UK 2022 with one client describing Andrew as "always timely and professional as well as supportive and friendly".
Audrey is marketing and brand manager for Opportunity North East (ONE), a private sector catalyst driving transformational change in North-east Scotland's economy. ONE develops and delivers projects to accelerate regional economic diversification and energy transition and helps businesses in the key industry sectors of digital, energy, food, drink, agriculture and fishing, life sciences and tourism, to develop and grow at home and internationally.
Her career began in the food and drink industry, both in the private and public sector. Having spent significant time with Scottish Enterprise working across food and drink, energy and tourism, she moved into the energy sector, working with BP and latterly with the Oil & Gas Innovation Centre before joining ONE.
Phillips is UK Country Director, Oilfield Services & Equipment (OFSE), at
Baker Hughes and is responsible for HSE and delivery performance for the UK
region whilst empowered to make decisions impacting growth in the UK, a region
that covers 4,000 employees.
more than 20 years’ experience in the International oil and gas industry holding
a broad range of roles including Strategic roles, Operations, Commercial, Project
Leadership and Manufacturing. Claire was previously General Manager at Petrofac
before re-joining Baker Hughes most recently as Global Quality Director.
early career in Mechanical Engineering, Claire developed a strong passion for STEM
and is an ambassador for Diversity Equity & Inclusion in Baker Hughes's
inclusive culture acting as Executive Sponsor for Women’s Network and STEM as
part of the company’s Employee and Community Resource Groups.
Born in Aberdeen and educated at Aberdeen Grammar School, Colin followed his father into the family business Langstane Press and became managing director in 1987. Langstane have since developed beyond Aberdeen and are the largest company of its kind in Scotland.
He is a burgess of the City of Aberdeen, a past president of the Rotary Club of Aberdeen, a part president of the Aberdeen Association of Royal Warrant Holders and a Liveryman of The Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers in London.
As Managing Director for Scotland, Duncan leads both the Aberdeen and Glasgow businesses.
Duncan started his career with First as a graduate trainee in 2001. After working in a variety of roles in London and Essex he returned to the north-east and held Operations Director and Managing Director posts with First Aberdeen. After a short period working with Arr Craib in the haulage industry, Duncan re-joined returned to First Glasgow in 2016, the company’s largest operating company where he oversaw huge growth and commercial success during his tenure leading to his promotion to Interim Managing Director of First Bus in Scotland in May 2021.
Duncan was formally appointed as Managing Director of First Bus Scotland in January 2022 and is responsible for more than 2,500 employees across six operating locations in Scotland.
Findlay is a Partner in the Corporate / Energy team of Gilson Gray – one of the fasted growing law firms in the UK. With over 20 years’ experience in the Energy / Oil & Gas industry and 14 years in international in-house leadership positions, Findlay has a wealth of experience advising companies and leadership teams on a vast array of issues impacting business globally and locally.
Until March 2023, Findlay was General Counsel of a number of the global businesses within Baker Hughes. With particular specialism overseeing operations on complex infrastructure projects, Findlay has advised leadership teams and businesses on issues ranging from high value EPCI projects and supply chain negotiations to government relations, joint ventures and localisation.
He has also spent years leading global and local teams in Crisis Management, Enterprise Risk and Diversity and Inclusion, winning multiple industry awards in the process. Findlay currently chairs the Offshore Energies UK (OEUK) Diversity & Inclusion Task Group.
Frank has worked in hospitality since the age of 16, experiencing just about every role the industry has to offer. Currently general manager of the Park Inn by Radison, Frank is also vice-chair of the Aberdeen City & Shire Hotels Association, a UK Hospitality Scotland Committee member, and director of Aberdeen Inspired, the city centre BID.
Frank actively lobbies on non-domestic rates, tourism levy, the potential impact of the Government's Skills Based Immigration White Paper and engages with both Aberdeen City Council and Aberdeenshire Council on NDR, tourism levy and the City' Local Development Plan.
Park Inn by Radison Aberdeen and Harlaw Academy have a strategic partnership in conjunction with DYW North East.
Graeme is a passionate advocate for the digital technology sector and its impact on businesses in the UK and beyond. With a strong belief in the potential of digital technology, Graeme actively promotes the people and companies within the industry, recognising the difference they make to organisations.
Greg is Region Business Development Manager and a key member of the Hunting Senior Management Team, providing effective leadership in developing Hunting’s business activities and revenue streams in new and existing markets within the EMEA region. Greg’s career in the Oil & Gas Industry spans 28 years, with 15 years in sales and business development.
Greg is a born and bred Aberdonian, so has a very strong interest in the local community, and hopes his passion and experience can help the AGCC bring economic growth and future success to the Northeast.
Jenny is OGUK’s external relations director, responsible for stakeholder engagement, membership and events for the organisation. OGUK is the leading representation body for the UK’s offshore oil and gas industry.
Previously Jenny was head of press and leader’s press secretary for the Scottish Liberal Democrats. Based in the Scottish Parliament she worked with the party through the last months of the Lib/Lab Executive, the first minority SNP Parliament and part of the coalition government at Westminster, before moving north to Aberdeen. Outside work, Jenny enjoys running, cycling and skiing and spending time with her husband and three daughters.
Jill is a director within the private client tax team of Anderson Anderson Brown (AAB) and advices predominately unincorporated businesses on all types of transactions together with managing their annual tax compliance requirements. Jill also specialises in advice to non-resident individuals.
Jill was brought up in Fraserburgh and lives in Maud with her husband and two young children. Jill is keen to champion local businesses and in involved with providing support to local businesses through Fraserburgh Enterprise Hub.
Karri is the political and external affairs advisor for bp, working in the UK Government Affairs team based in Aberdeen.
Prior to her role with bp, Karri worked for politicians in both Scottish Parliament and Westminster spanning two years up until the General Election in 2017. Since November 2017, she has been with bp covering politics in Scotland and representing bp’s North Sea oil and gas business. Due to the nature of politics and the wide-ranging businesses within bp’s portfolio, her time has been focused on a broad range of issues politically and within the company, including bp’s new net zero ambition.
Ken Clow is Chief Executive Officer at Donald Russell. Based in the small community of Inverurie in Aberdeenshire, Donald Russell is a family-owned business with a team of around 220 people who go above and beyond to share their knowledge of and passion for quality food and friendly service.
Laura is VisitAberdeenshire’s Head of Communications and leads the Marketing and Communications team. Day-to-day, Laura works with journalists in the UK to promote Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire as a visitor destination. She also works with business and news desks to respond to breaking news.
Laura has more than 12 years’ experience including roles in journalism, in-house communications, PR agency and third sector expertise, and most recently before joining VisitAberdeenshire led the communications activity at Aberdeen International Airport. Laura is a chartered PR practitioner from the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, one of only 400 in the UK.
Maggie is director of Aurora Planning Limited, a specialist town and country planning consultancy providing advice to individuals and public and private sector clients across Scotland.
Prior to establishing Aurora Planning, Maggie was head of planning and sustainable development at Aberdeen City Council, responsible for planning, transportation, environmental and other related services. In that capacity, she represented the Council and the region on a number of national planning and transport policy groups. Currently she is vice chair of Nestrans, the regional transport partnership for the North-east of Scotland, a board member for Grampian Housing Association and represents Scotland on the British Chambers of Commerce Expert Planning Panel.
Marianne is Director of Strategic Land and Planning of Stewart Milne Group where she has worked for nearly two decades. Prior to this she worked in private practice as a Chartered Town Planner. She is also Joint Chair of the Grampian Homebuilders Committee of Homes for Scotland.
Marianne moved to the North-east of Scotland in 1999 and considers the area as home. She is passionate about the area and wants to contribute to the growth of the North-east through the provision of homes and infrastructure in the right places.
Moira is an RICS chartered surveyor and director at CBRE, a global property services company. Located primarily in Aberdeen, she provides advice to ratepayers in the public and private sectors including; developers, investment funds, and local and national businesses.
Having grown up in the area, Moira is passionate about Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire and hopes that her position in the Aberdeen &Grampian Chamber of Commerce Policy Council will assist in making the region become an even better place to live and do business.
Moray is a tax partner at EY based in Aberdeen who will primarily serve the energy sector. He has more than 20 years of experience supporting clients with complex tax issues across a diverse range of sectors, predominately oil and gas.
Moray studied law at the University of Aberdeen and has worked within the Big 4 professional services firms since graduating. He is a Burgess of the city of Aberdeen, chair of Castlegate Arts (which operates the Aberdeen Arts Centre) and he is passionate about championing the North-east of Scotland as a place to live and work.
Murray Whittaker is currently director of projects at Whittaker Engineering Ltd. He began his career at RollsWoodGroup (RWG) as an apprentice gas turbine technician before moving to an independent Rolls-Royce gas turbine company where he worked as a field service rep, traveling and working both offshore in the UKCS and internationally. He then progressed to project engineering position.
Murray is the second generation of his family working in the oil and gas sector with 20 years’ experience. He joined Whittaker in 2011 as a project engineer before progressing to director of projects, looking after the UK business and operations in Mexico. Murray now as a predominantly client-facing role, using his practical field experience.tp help run major projects for Whittaker. He is a GlobalScot and is based in Aberdeenshire, also supporting local schools with STEM events.
I manage a team responsible for developing and delivering commercial events, professional development and conferences from the University to external audiences. Projects are varied e.g. short courses, bespoke commissioned provision, research dissemination, conferences (in person, hybrid and virtual) e-learning and Postgraduate qualifications. The team also provide services to external organisations including other HEIs and commercial companies.
I have a keen interest in my own professional development and recently undertook a Global Leadership course with Curtin University in Australia; I am a workplace coach and am about to embark on an International Coaching Federation course to enhance my coaching skills further.
I represent the University in a range of settings e.g. on the Scottish Universities Group, a sector-wide association; Aberdeen City Council’s Event 365 group and as a member of the Association of British Professional Conference Organisers (ABPCO).
In my spare time I am a keen gardener and motorcyclist.
Pamela is local to Fraserburgh having lived and worked in Aberdeen for 20+ years prior to moving back ‘home’ in 2018. She has an MBA from Robert Gordon University (2009). Pamela's career has been varied encompassing economic development, business development and project management.
Her remit at Fraserburgh Harbour (which is a Trust Port) is to deliver our 'Masterplan For Growth'. Fraserburgh is a busy, diverse port with a lot to offer the region and our Masterplan sets out the vision and strategic framework for the development of our infrastructure over the next 20 years.
Sarah is a graduate of the Universities of Aberdeen and Glasgow and has been a partner with the full service law firm, Ledingham Chalmers LLP, since 2006. For many years she has been working with clients in the sectors which drive the economy in Aberdeen and Grampian, from farming and fishing to food, hospitality, construction and energy. Having lived and worked in the area for the majority of her life, Sarah knows how much talent there is in the area to ensure that the region remains a strong contributor to the local and national economy and that it’s a great place to live and work.
Sarah is a trustee if the Open Space Trust whose aim is to develop a community space in the heart of the city centre. She previously served as a director on the board of another local charity.
A passionate Aberdonian, Steven has shown his commitment to the region with more than 20 years’ service with the Scottish Fisherman Federations (SFF Services). Steven is currently managing director of SFF Services Limited.
Steven graduated from RGU in 2001 and trained as a Chartered Accountant with KPMG in Aberdeen, qualifying in 2004. With a passion for enterprise and entrepreneurship, Steven has led start ups in Property, Recruitment and Finance as well as having key roles in long established international companies.
A dedicated champion of small business as well as the North East of Scotland as a place to live, work and do business, Steven has been a long term member of the Chamber and is delighted to support the development of the region through membership of the policy chamber.
Stuart is one of the directors at Siberia Bar & Hotel in the city centre of Aberdeen. He is not a native to the Granite City but has grown to love it and the surrounding Shire over the past few years.
Stuart is working his way up through the hospitality sector and is now spearheading a new initiative to galvanise the local hospitality sector during the CV19 pandemic. He is always adopting a solutions-based approach to any problem, no matter the scale.