November 19th 2014 | Our Dynamic Earth, Edinburgh


Keynote speakers

Michael Russell MSP

Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, The Scottish Government

@Feorlean , @scotgov

Michael Russell MSP joined the Scottish National Party in 1974 and held a number of senior party posts before becoming the party's first full time Chief Executive in 1994. Mr Russell was the campaign manager for Alex Salmond's leadership campaign in 1990 and he contested the SNP leadership in 2004.

He was elected to the Scottish Parliament in 1999 as a Regional Member for the South of Scotland, was a founding member of the Parliamentary Bureau and then served as Shadow Minister for Children, Education and Culture. He won 'Debater of the Year' award in 2000 and was short listed for 'Scottish Politician of the Year' title in 2002.

Mr Russell lost his seat in 2003 and returned to a media career but was re-elected for the same region in 2007 when he was appointed Minister for Environment.

He was Minister for Culture, External Affairs and the Constitution, with responsibility for the National Conversation and the White Paper Your Scotland, Your Voice, from February until December 2009 when he was appointed Education Secretary.


Mark Stephen

Journalist and Broadcaster

Mark Stephen is one of Scotland’s most prolific and popular broadcasters. He studied at The Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and Glasgow University.

After a year spent as a commercial producer in local radio he joined the BBC where he spent 20 years on their staff in a wide range of jobs - floor manager, researcher, trails director, newsreader, senior announcer, instructor, producer and presenter. He left the corporation 7 years ago to set up his own multi-media production company, Nevismark Ltd. He and his associates still do a lot of work for the BBC, both presenting and producing programmes.

He lives with his wife Jean and their daughters Rebecca and Jessica on a 10 acre small-holding in rural Aberdeenshire.



Alastair Sim

Director, Universities Scotland


Alastair Sim took up office as the Director of Universities Scotland on 01 July 2009.  Universities Scotland is the representative body of Scotland's 19 higher education institutions.  Universities Scotland develops policy on behalf of the university sector and campaigns publicly on higher education issues.

Previously, Alastair was a Civil Servant with the Scottish Office and later the Scottish Government between 1989 – 2009.  He served in a number of departments, including a time as Private Secretary to Minister for Agriculture and the Environment.  Alastair developed policy and legislation on constitutional reform and protection of the natural heritage and was seconded to the European Commission.

During his career in the Senior Civil Service he was Head of Division, Environment and Rural Affairs; and was seconded to the post of Director of Planning, University of Glasgow; and latterly held the post of Director of Policy and Strategy, Scottish Court Service.

Alastair is a member of various different committees including: Cross-Party Group (CPG) on Scotland’s Universities and Colleges; and the Scottish Council for Development and Industry (SCDI) Executive Committee.

Professor Peter Slee

Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University of Huddersfield

@HUDDVC , @HuddersfieldUni

Professor Slee is the Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Huddersfield. He holds a degree in History from the University of Reading and a PhD in Modern History from Emmanuel College, Cambridge. Professor Slee has published a number of modern history and higher education strategy and management papers and is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. He has previously worked for the CBI, undertaking consultancy with UK businesses and a number of international universities. Professor Slee held senior posts at Durham University and Aston University, and was the Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Northumbria University prior to his move to the University of Huddersfield in January 2010.

Dr Diane Harbison

Managing Director, BioCity Scotland


As Managing Director of BioCity Scotland, Diane is responsible for managing the BioCity Scotland team and for developing and delivering BioCity's plans for growth and development of the site. This includes the establishment of a new med-tech incubator.

Prior to this, Diane was the Head of Business Development at Edinburgh BioQuarter. She led a team responsible for commercializing IP from the University. Under her leadership, collaborations were established with top 10 pharmaceutical companies including GSK, AstraZeneca, Biogen and Lilly.

She was previously an Associate Director in Pfizer’s business development team, responsible for the negotiation and alliance management of several collaborations with Universities, SMEs and pharmaceutical companies; including Bioprint, the DSTT collaboration and a stem cell treatment for AMD.

Her earlier career was at the EBI working on the EMBL database. She has a PhD and a BSc in Molecular Biology from Glasgow University and a MBA from Henley Business School.

Pam Tatlow

Chief Executive, million+

@millionplusCEO , @million_plus

Pam Tatlow has been Chief Executive of the university think-tank million+ since 2007 having been appointed as CEO of the Campaign for Mainstream Universities in 2004. Pam is a qualified teacher and has worked in education, health and in public and parliamentary affairs and has served as a lay judge on the Employment Appeal Tribunal since 2002. She participates in a number of stakeholder and policy groups related to higher education. Under her leadership million+ has published reports on a wide range of issues related to higher education funding and the contribution of universities and their graduates to society and the economy.

Alison Johns

Chief Executive, Leadership Foundation for Higher Education


The Leadership Foundation for Higher Education provides high quality higher education leadership development programmes for universities and higher education colleges. These offer invaluable opportunities to reflect on practice and explore recent thinking on leadership. The Leadership Foundation also offers consultancy and tailored in-house development programmes providing expert advice and support.
Alison has worked in higher education for over 20 years and she has held a number of senior positions.  Prior to her current role she was head of Policy for Leadership, Governance and Management (LGM) and also had responsibility for the internal HR and organisational development function at the Higher Education Funding Council for England (Hefce).   

She holds a MA in Management Learning from the University of Lancaster and speaks regularly on the subject of Leadership, Governance and Management of Higher Education nationally and internationally. Prior to higher education Alison worked in the private sector as a management consultant and before that was a career civil servant.  


Jen Rae

Senior Researcher, Innovation Policy, Nesta


Jen Rae is a policy advisor on innovation and economic growth for Nesta’s Policy and Research team. She is responsible for producing evidence-based policy from Nesta’s wide range of research to advocate for the importance of innovation to economic development in the UK.

Prior to joining Nesta, Jen worked for regional organisations in the North East of England including One North East, the Regional Development Agency, undertaking a variety of policy roles from economic inclusion and regeneration to regional economic policy.

On behalf of the RDA network she led on national policy work with the Department of Communities and Local Government and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. She has also worked for the Arts Council.

Jen holds a BA (Hons) in Psychology from the University of Durham.

Anne Marie Graham

Head of Programme, Outward Student Mobility, UK Higher Education International Unit

@ArquerosUK , @InternationalUt

Anne Marie Graham is the Head of Programme, Outward Student Mobility at the UK Higher Education International Unit. She leads on the implementation of the UK Strategy for Outward Mobility, which aims to increase the proportion of UK domiciled students accessing international opportunities during their studies. Anne Marie has managed projects in UK and European higher education in the fields of languages, communication and intercultural skills. She is the author of several research reports, including labour market intelligence for the British Academy, the University Council of Modern Languages and Skills CfA, and a review of public service interpreting and translation training in higher education for HEFCE’s Routes into Languages.  In addition to her work in the higher education sector, Anne Marie has over 10 years’ commercial management experience in the language services industry.

Dr Camille B. Kandiko Howson

Senior Lecturer and Head of Student Engagement, King's Learning Institute, King's College London


Dr Camille B. Kandiko Howson joined King's Learning Institute in 2008. She is working on King’s College London curriculum enhancement initiatives and is leading on a cross-College student experience enhancement team. She also leads the King’s Experience Internship scheme for undergraduate students. Her research focuses on international and comparative higher education, with areas of interest in the student experience, student engagement and the curriculum; interdisciplinarity and creativity; academic motivation and prestige; PhD supervision and developing the use of concept mapping in higher education. Supporting this research are notions of networks in higher education; the role of student engagement in the student experience and the environment for learning; and intersectionality as a methodological approach to exploring student and academic identities.

Camille holds a first degree in English and Classics from Cornell University (USA) and a Master’s degree in Higher Education Administration from The University of Pennsylvania (USA). She was awarded her PhD by Indiana University (USA) in 2007. Before taking up her post at the Institute, she was Project Associate at IU working on the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). She has co-edited the recently released, The Global Student Experience: An International and Comparative Analysis (London: Routledge)

Lesley Cannon

EU Funding Manager / Head of Scotland Team, Scotland Europa


Lesley Cannon is the EU Funding Manager of Scotland Europa a membership-based organisation that promotes Scotland's interests across the institutions of the European Union and to the representatives of Europe’s regions and Member States.

With over 25 years experience in the design, development, delivery, measurement and monitoring of EU funding programmes and projects, working in Scotland with a focus on innovation, economic, rural and tourism development.  She heads up the Scotland based team helping Scottish organisations foster successful European relationships, providing guidance on European policies and funding.

Lesley is involved in the development of the Scottish European Structural and Investment Funds programme and participates in the Scottish Research and Innovation Steering Group, Interreg Network and LIFE focus group, providing expert advice on European Funding and engagement.

Lesley has an MSc in Entrepreneurial Development from the University of Stirling.


Dr John Rogers

Director of Research and Enterprise, Research and Enterprise Office, University of Stirling


John has worked in Higher Education management and administration for over 20 years. He is currently Director of Research and Enterprise at the University of Stirling where he has responsibility for an integrated portfolio covering strategy and policy, grant and contract funding, research assessment, researcher development, research governance and integrity, knowledge exchange, intellectual property and commercialisation.  He is a member of the Scottish Funding Council Research and Knowledge Exchange Committee and Chair of the Board of Stirling University Innovation Park. 

Prior to joining Stirling, John worked at the University of Manchester, where he was responsible for student recruitment, public relations, international relations and research support. John’s earlier career was spent as the national manager of the 2001 Research Assessment Exercise and before that at the University of Aberdeen in a variety of roles.


Jonathan Harms

Executive Director of Partnerships, Pearson UK


Jonathan Harms serves as Executive Director of Partnerships at Pearson Higher Education Services UK.  Immediately prior to this role, Jonathan was Managing Director at Pearson Embanet North America, responsible for the organisation’s largest business unit and partnering with Top 200 US News and World Report Ranked Universities.  His core focus in the UK is launching high-quality, online distance learning programmes in strategic partnership with select top-ranking universities.  Jonathan brings with him a truly global background, his career spanning regional leadership roles in Asia-Pacific, Europe, Africa, and North America.  He currently resides in London and his personal interests include off-the-beaten-path travel, tennis and watersports.

Alyssa Hampton

Course Design Consultant, Pearson UK


Alyssa is a Course Design Consultant for Pearson UK Higher Education. She enjoys how this role gives her the opportunity to engage with university leaders and Pearson's specialists to determine how best to customise students' learning experiences. In order to do so, Alyssa draws from her current pursuit of a UK Master’s degree and her background working in four Pearson North America departments (change management, technical product development, product management, and learning design) and teaching secondary school.


Ruth Sinclair-Jones

Director Erasmus+ UK National Agency, British Council

@erasmusplusUK , @BritishCouncil

Ruth Sinclair-Jones is Director of the UK National Agency for Erasmus+, which is the British Council in partnership with Ecorys UK.  Ruth leads on the UK implementation of this €940bn EU programme, delivering benefits to thousands of individual participants and organisations across the UK through education, training and youth activities and partnerships. 

Ruth has extensive experience at the British Council in international cultural relations and in the development and management of large-scale programmes in the fields of Education, Society, English and the Arts.  Since joining the British Council in 1987, Ruth has worked in Thailand Belgium, Brazil, Austria, Poland and the UK. 

Before joining the British Council, Ruth graduated with an M.A. degree in Classics from the University of Oxford and qualified as a Chartered Public Finance Accountant with the London Boroughs of Westminster and Hammersmith & Fulham.