Northern Star Business Awards

The 2018 Northern Star Business Awards took place on September 27 at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre.

Key dates for the 2019 awards will be announced shortly.


With an audience of around 600 guests, the Northern Star Business Awards recognise the exceptional accomplishments of organisations across the North-east.

From pioneering innovation and outstanding customer service to excellence in people development, environmental outlook and marketing prowess, the Northern Star Awards provide the a high-profile platform for showcasing success.


“A big part of our role is leading the celebration of our city region as a great place to live, work, study, invest and do business. Companies of all sizes, from all sectors and across the length and breadth of this fantastic region are renowned for their innovation and entrepreneurial spirit and these awards provide a great stage to showcase and celebrate this. If we’re not prepared to talk ourselves up, no-one else is going to do it for us. The Chamber congratulates the winners and finalists who have again raised the bar across a whole range of disciplines from exports and marketing to their commitment to staff development and impact on the community. We should draw inspiration from everything we saw and heard during these awards and redouble our efforts to create the economic conditions that will ensure the long-term success of the North-east.”

Russell Borthwick, chief executive of the Chamber


principle sponsor:

Principle sponsor



Each year we work with five member organisations (registered charities) to be the beneficiaries of envelope donations made on the night.

Through the generosity of attendees, the Northern Star Business Awards have raised more than £30,000 in the last five years towards helping local charities

For the 2018 Awards, Dial-a-Bus, Me Too!, Marie Curie, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation and Mental Health Aberdeen have been nominated as charity partners.

Dial-a-Community Bus

Dial-a-Community Bus is a social enterprise which focuses on reducing social exclusion through the provision of high quality community transport delivery and support services.  It is a community owned Company Limited by Guarantee and Scottish Charity which has been operating for over 20 years



 Asthma and Allergy Foundation

Asthma and Allergy Foundation is an Aberdeen based charity that provides evidence-based health information, confidential advice and support to people with asthma, their families, carers and friends across the north-east of Scotland. As the only asthma charity in Scotland, our aim is to ensure that all those who turn to us for support get the help they need so they or their loved ones can live a healthier and active life.


Marie Curie

Marie Curie are here for people living with any terminal illness, and their families. We offer expert nursing care, guidance and support to help them get the most of the time they have left. Our Nurses bring light into the darkest hours.



Mental Health Aberdeen 

Mental Health Aberdeen is a local charity delivering person-centred counselling for both young people and adults, free at point of delivery, for anyone experiencing challenges to their emotional wellbeing. They campaign for better mental health provision and an end to stigma.Mental-Health-Aberdeen-Northern-Star-Charity

Me Too!  

Me Too! was founded in Summer 2015, by a local parent, frustrated with the fragmentation of information in Aberdeen City and Shire when looking for activities for her disabled son. The idea was to produce a free, quarterly “What’s On” Guide for her community and to empower other parents. Today, Me Too! Magazine distributes to a readership of 28,500 in North East Scotland and is widely recognised as the leading organisation of “Relaxed Sessions” in the area - making events and sessions accessible to people who may otherwise find it challenging due to sensory considerations. 


Meet the judges


Meet the panel of judges for this year's Northern Star Business Awards.


Suzanne Robertson, business development executive, Aberdeenshire Council.

Suzanne joined Aberdeenshire Council in 2013 taking up the role of Business Development Executive providing advice and support to individual business as well as business groups and community associations in the Buchan area. 

Prior to this Suzanne held a number of senior roles within the Food & Drink and Engineering industry. Recently in her engineering role Suzanne held the position of Operations Director for Power Jacks where she focused on increasing capacity and efficiency within the operations team. Previous to that, Suzanne worked as the Account Manager for Marks & Spencer for the Fisher Foods Group based in Fraserburgh. Suzanne’s contributions centred on business development and increasing the profitability of the account.

Outside of work Suzanne is a keen golfer and enjoys taking part in amateur golf competitions as well as keeping fit.

John Brebner, director, Brebner Consulting Ltd

In 2016, John established his own consultancy business Brebner Consulting Ltd focusing on business advisory services, targeting a mix of direct Board appointments (executive and non-executive) as well as project based advisory work.

This followed a 34 year career with Clydesdale Bank where he undertook various senior roles, latterly head of Regional Business & Private Banking Centre – East Scotland and Regional head of Specialist & Acquisition Finance – North of Scotland.

Derren McRae, managing director, CBRE

Educated at University of Aberdeen, Derren joined commercial property advisers CBRE in July 2009 and was appointed MD of the Aberdeen office in 2012.

Derren has been involved in a number of major commercial developments across the city including Marischal Square, The Silver Fin Building, Union Plaza and Union Square.

Derren is also a board member of both AGCC and Aberdeen Inspired and a Director of local hospitality operator, The McGintys Group.

Stephen Hepburn, head of customer banking, Clydesdale Bank

Stephen Hepburn is a chartered banker and a graduate of both Napier University and The University of Glasgow Business School where he completed an MSc in Organisational Development.

He has more than 25 years’ experience in banking and over the last 15 years has held senior leadership positions in retail, private and business banking across Scotland with Clydesdale Bank.

He is currently a member of the Banks Senior Leadership team in Scotland via his role as Head of Customer Banking based in Aberdeen where he has responsibility for implementing a local Banking strategy for the City and Shire across all customer segments.

Rachel Elliott, manager, Developing the Young Workforce North East Scotland

Rachel joined in September 2016 as manager of the Developing the Young Workforce team, the industry-led group which has been set up to facilitate more engagement between businesses and education. Rachel has day-to-day responsibility for delivery of the initiatives and programmes being devised by the team and is a passionate advocate for apprenticeships.

Rachel was previously policy executive at the Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce, and was responsible for delivery of the Chamber’s policy work which included engagement with politicians and civil servants and policy development with Chamber members. She also spent four years working in the world of politics, supporting a North East MSP on local campaigns, research and media relations.

In her spare time Rachel is a leader in a local Girls’ Brigade company and is also part of the Scotland-wide training team, supporting trainee Girls’ Brigade leaders through their leadership programme.

Tom Sanders, senior audit manager, EY

Tom is a Senior audit manager at EY Aberdeen with over 8 years’ experience in the industry. Tom has a varied portfolio of clients including oil and gas operators as well as others in different sectors. In addition to his role, he leads recruitment activities for EY Aberdeen and hosts various technical forums. Tom is also a member of the AGCC policy council and participates in the Vanguard series. Tom is also passionate about promoting the region as a vibrant and dynamic area.

Bruce Spence, committee member, IOSH

Bruce currently works as HSEQ Lead, Europe & Africa, for a subsea-related company in the Oil and Gas sector. He has a wide area of expertise across health, safety and environment covering line operational roles, leading teams and consultant to management teams. Bruce is a Chartered member of IOSH and has been a member of IOSH for over 25 years. He has been on the North of Scotland Branch Committee since January 2016.

Keeping fit is the main activity outside work as well as playing golf, cycling and watching football and rugby.

Dr Deborah A. O'Neil, chief executive Officer, NovaBiotics Ltd

Deborah is the founder & CEO of NovaBiotics, a leading global biotechnology company developing anti-infective drug candidates for medically unmet infectious diseases. Deborah is editor of the European Biopharmaceutical Review & International Pharmaceutical Technology, a member of the Scottish Life Science Industry Leadership Group, Advisory Board of the Scottish Life Sciences Association, the Life Sciences board of Opportunity North East & a proud Trustee of Crohn’s in Childhood Research Association.

Pádraig McCloskey, external relations manager, Shell U.K. Limited

After graduating from Imperial College in 2002, Pádraig joined Shell, initially working on the Pernis Refinery in the Netherlands in a technical role. After three years in Holland Pádraig made a significant career move into communications when he moved back to Ireland for the first of two spells working on the Corrib Gas Project. Pádraig has subsequently worked in the US and Canada before moving to Aberdeen in 2012. 

Pádraig believes the North-east has great potential and is excited by the opportunity to support the Chambers vision for the region.

Angela Greenhalgh, commercial manager, Skene House HotelSuites

With over 20 years’ experience in the Hospitality industry, working with both Chain and Independent hotels across the UK, Angela joined Skene House HotelSuites in 2014, just as the downturn took effect.  With a degree in Hospitality Management, as well as her experience, Angela has aided Skene House through this challenging time using her knowledge of the market, hotel systems and revenue experience. Recent implementation of a new business model that she created has resulted in a better product offering for longer term guests, which is proving to be in high demand in the City.

Steve Nicol, chief financial officer, Wood

Steve Nicol is Wood’s Asset Solutions, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia, chief financial officer with responsibility for all aspects of finance and administration including Commercial, IT & S, Real Estate and Legal Services.

Steve has more than 20 years’ oil and gas experience with an in-depth knowledge of reporting, auditing, mergers and acquisitions, and financial management.  He is a key member of the Wood’s Leadership Team and sits on the Board at Aberdeen Grampian Chamber of Commerce.

Murray Alexander, managing director, XIC

Murray Alexander is managing director at XIC, an Aberdeen-based creative print specialist. He has worked in graphics, print and communications since leaving school, holding various production and operational positions prior to moving into managerial and – ultimately - director-level roles. Murray now leads a team of 19, who service the design, print and digital requirements of companies across Scotland.

Jill Webster, co founder and a director, Rubberatkins

Jill Webster, co founder and director, Rubberatkins

Jill is co founder and a director of Rubberatkins and its international group of companies. The group has grown to become a technical leader in the design and manufacture of elastomer technological solutions to the oil and gas industry and has bases in the US, China, Middle East and England as well as in Aberdeen.

Jill was an Aberdeenshire Councillor for 14 years and held many prominent roles including Provost of Aberdeenshire and vice chair of Infrastructure Services Committee. She served on the Boards of Grampian Police and the North East of Scotland Transport Partnership.

She is currently a Board member of Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce and is a Governor of Albyn School.


Business of the Year

Is your company the true star of the North-east for 2018? This award is for that one company who has shown excellent practice and inspiration to all businesses by being a market leader.

Customer First

The award is designed to celebrate those exceptional companies who put the interest of the customer at the heart of everything they do.

ECO Hero

Is your business passionate about the planet? If your business actively reduces impact to the environment to make a change, you should be in the running for this award.

Family Business

Are you a fantastic family run or owned business? We are looking for a beacon of a North-east family business with an outstanding reputation and true integrity.

Going Global

Has your business made an impact overseas? This award will go to a company that has been successful in growing internationally. 

Inspiration from Innovation

This award will be rewarded to the company that is at the forefront of latest thinking and is using technology or innovation to drive the future.


Making the Difference

Does your company have a big heart? Are you committed to positive change within the community? Celebrate this commitment by entering this category.

Marketing Magic

This award is for the company that has created a successful marketing campaign that has driven customers through the door or grown exposure.

Rising Star

Do you have a future star in your organisation? Are they destined for great things with your business? If you or a colleague has made a significant impact in your organisation apply for this award today.

Staff Matter

For organisations who take care of their people so their people take care of their business.

Student Placement 

This special award recognises the important contribution business makes to student through their participation in RGU’s student placement programme.

Inspiring Futures

This award is for a school and business who have worked together in partnership to deliver either work inspiration, work practice, work experience and jobs (or them all) to ensure young people are moving into work.