MacKay Hannah

12th Annual Conference and Award for Executive Secretaries and PAs in Scotland (ACES 2020): A New Decade - It's all about the cloud...


Carolyn Currie

Chief Executive, Women's Enterprise Scotland

Carolyn has enjoyed an extensive career at a senior level in financial services working with a variety of client groups from large corporates to the SME and not for profit sector. Roles undertaken include Head of Business Lending at RBS where she managed the multi-billion pound lending book and delivered new digital operating platforms. An advocate of continuous improvement, she achieved industry recognition and awards for work on new product development.

Now the Chief Executive of Women’s Enterprise Scotland, Carolyn has guided the development of global-leading standards for gender-equality in business advisor training and digital platform content. She has given evidence to Parliamentary Committees on economic matters and is a founding member of the UK Women’s Enterprise Policy Group. Carolyn has contributed policy papers to the World Economic Forum in Davos and is a member of the T20, the think tank of the G20.


Joan Serafini

Managing Director, Equator Events and Public Affairs and ACES 2020 Judge

Few people understand the importance of looking after high-profile figures than Joan Serafini. She spent over 22 years working for Government, firstly in the Scottish Office and then the Scottish Executive. As well as working in a variety of departments like Scottish Enterprise, Historic Scotland and the High Court in Edinburgh, Joan was latterly Private Secretary to former First Ministers, Henry McLeish and Jack McConnell.

With years of experience dealing with high-profile visits, including those of royalty and Prime Ministers, 2002 was the year in which she decided to put her talents to good use in the business world by starting Equator Events, a subsidiary of the Equator (Scotland) Group – the number 1 full service digital marketing agency in Scotland – owned by her cousin, John McLeish.

Joan’s ability to transfer the skills she used as a Private Secretary in Government to her business, meant that she was successful in securing clients such as The Big Lottery Fund, RBS, the Shanghai Govt, the Thai Govt, Korean Biotech Association, MTV Europe, VisitScotland, Xerox, Sony, PA Consulting Group, Erskine, Enable & Tomorrow’s People charities to name but a few.

Her own personal claim to fame was when she organised possibly the most glamorous event ever to hit Scotland – the world premiere of the Braveheart Movie in Stirling. As the Scottish co-ordinator for 20th Century Fox, Joan had to liaise with the likes of BAFTA and essential services such as local police & the council, to ensure that the event for some 1,000 guests, went smoothly. And the highlight for her was when she was rewarded with a dance & a kiss from Mel Gibson, even though according to Joan, she “had to stalk him” to get it!

Joan’s obvious enthusiasm, experience and the good relationships she has built up over the years are reasons why so many businesses entrust high-profile, big budget events to her company.
Blue Twitter Bird@EquatorEvents

Gail Welsh

Retired Executive PA

Gail Welsh, founder of ESPA (Education Sector PAs network) was winner of the ACES Scottish PA of the Year award in 2014.  Heriot-Watt University is where Gail’s career started, after being awarded Best Commerce Student at college.  The rest of Gail’s secretarial/PA time in Edinburgh was spent at The Scotsman newspaper, a market research company and an environmental design company.  

Gail moved to Stirling just before the Millennium and for the next 15 years worked in Colleges Scotland.  After a sabbatical, in March 2015 Gail took up a 4-week temporary assignment as PA/Administrator in the School of Social Sciences at Stirling University where she remained until her retiral in early 2019. 

In her spare time, Gail is continually networking.  She is also known for her passion of foreign travel and living the good life with her husband.

Steve McPherson

IT Learning Consultant, Appetite for Business

Steve is a Learning Consultant with a Training & Productivity Coaching background in all Microsoft Office products within industries such as Oil & Gas, Legal, Financial, Media and Pharmaceutical.

Steve’s motto is work smarter not longer and his mission is to help people not just be more productive in their digital workspace but to own it and get them excited about IT!

Appetite for Business is an award winning technology consultancy that has been working with clients to build digital solutions and provide training on Microsoft technology for over 17 years.

Dave Stokes

IT Learning Consultant, Appetite for Business

Alan Hughes

CRM Manager, University of Edinburgh

A change and innovation manager who has worked in the voluntary, public and private sector in the UK and Ireland, Alan’s areas of expertise are Education and Business Improvement. A skilled facilitator and trainer Alan has developed a programme of training and development in Lean business improvement. His Lean implementation skills were developed managing Business Improvement Techniques in the engineering sector for Scottish Enterprise and enhanced with acknowledged global leaders McKinsey in the challenging environment of the RBS group.

Alan worked for the Scottish Funding Council and was responsible for setting up the joint skills committee with Skills Development Scotland. While at the Funding council he managed the Skills Utilisation Pilot projects roll out for the council on behalf of the Scottish Government Skills Utilisation Leadership group. As a consultant he has led business change initiatives in diverse sectors including financial services, further education and Health.


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I can't wait until next year so I can come back, what a wonderful conference. I left Edinburgh zoo buzzing, what a wonderful way to start the weekend.

Sheena Stewart - Argyll and Bute Council,
Delegate at ACES 2016

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