Keith Aitken, Journalist & Broadcaster (Master of Ceremonies)

Keith Aitken is a writer and broadcaster. Born and educated in Edinburgh, he spent 15 years in senior editorial posts at the Scottish and Fleet Street offices of the Scotsman. Starting as a graduate trainee, he rose swiftly to be, in succession, parliamentary correspondent, labour correspondent, industrial editor, economics editor and chief leader writer.

Since turning freelance in 1995, Keith has been a columnist for The Scotsman, the Herald, Holyrood Magazine and Scotland on Sunday. He currently writes a long-running weekly column in the Scottish Daily Express, for which he also compiles a hugely popular weekly prize crossword and reviews opera.

He is known to radio listeners as a presenter of such long-running programmes as BBC Scotland’s Head Lines and Newsweek Scotland, and has written and presented numerous documentary programmes and series for Radio Scotland, Radio Four, and the BBC World Service.


Nick Shields, Director, Scottish Manufacturing Advisory Service

Nick Shields has 30 years’ experience working in both SME and multinational manufacturing businesses such as Polaroid and Digital Equipment Corporation and smaller Scottish engineering businesses.

Nick’s experience has been gained through senior management roles in areas such as: operations management of high volume FMCG responsible for restructuring the global manufacturing operation across US, UK and Far East; engineering manager in a capital equipment manufacturer responsible for new product development and product development within the electronics industry.

Nick was appointed Director of SMAS in June 2011. SMAS work directly with manufacturing firms to increase productivity through targeted improvement projects which deliver quantifiable change whilst embedding a culture of change. With the demand to ever increase business productivity accelerating, the digital age offers great opportunities to manufacturing business, enhancing their competitive edge and driving new value streams.


Richard Hill, Head of Manufacturing and Automotive, Natwest

Richard Hill is Head of Automotive and Manufacturing at NatWest, responsible for developing strategic partnerships with customers and driving sector growth.

He is a prominent figurehead in industry, representing the RBS Group and the banking sector on key bodies such as the UK Automotive Council, Innovate UK and The ScaleUp Institute, and provides thought leadership across a number of channels including academia, trade and Government.

Richard is passionate about the critical need for a globally competitive manufacturing base. Graduating in Business Studies, his career has revolved around the Auto and Manufacturing sectors.

He joined the RBS Group in 2005 as Head of Sales at Lombard Vehicle Management; and subsequently led the Automotive Corporate Sectors team from 2010.  Prior to this, he headed up Group Sales for Manheim Europe, the world’s largest provider of vehicle remarketing solutions.  He has also held various senior sales and marketing positions with BMW Financial Services Group and Rover Group.


 Charles Joel, IoT Director & Advanced Analytics Director, Gardner Denver

Charles has been developing and executing IoT (internet of things), digital business strategy, engineering systems management and Industry 4.0 related technologies for nearly 20 years.

This includes the development of IoT product and services in multiple vertical marketplaces. Past success stories include connected cars, smart factories and intelligent pubs.

Prior to business life, Charles was an aircraft engineer in the Royal Air Force serving on Tornados and Harriers across the world. He is  passionate about IoT in business and, while admitting to be a ‘gadget nerd,’ he relishes the challenges new technology adoption brings to the industrial sector.


Alan Norbury – Industrial CTO, Siemens PLC

Alan Norbury is the CTO for Siemens UK industrial activities – a leading global supplier of industrial plant and software, manufacturing automation and drive technologies to industrial customers across the UK and Ireland.

Alan started his career as an apprentice in Siemens Congleton in 1978 moving into the role of Technical Specialist for Siemens automation and low voltage products.

In 1992 Alan spent time in Germany acting as Global Account Manager for key accounts such as Philip Morris & ICI.

He later became the UK Product Specialist for a number of advanced automation technologies, developing into the role of Applications Specialist primarily focusing on the UK OEM market.

Alan established a team of Application Specialists in 1997, a team of pre-sales technical consultants positioned across UK and Ireland their main focus being to provide advice on the best use of Siemens Industrial technologies to optimise processes, reduce costs and increase productivity.

Since 2011 Alan has worked closely with the High Value Manufacturing Catapult Centres.

He is now Siemens Industrial CTO dedicating his time to developing leading technology innovation to benefit Siemens UK manufacturing facilities and Siemens industrial customers.

Alan is a regular Industry 4.0 keynote speaker, sits on the IET Design and Production Sector Executive Board, Digital4Industry Leadership Group, Northern Robotics Network Advisory Board and the LCR4.0 Advisory Board.


Dr Ali Ziaee Bigdeli, Senior Research Fellow, The Advanced Services Group 

Dr Bigdeli is a Senior Research Fellow at The Advanced Services Group, the centre of excellence in research and practice on servitization and advanced services within Aston Business School, Aston University.

His interests lie in the organisational change and business model innovation brought about when organisations move towards providing capabilities rather than just selling products on a transactional basis. In the past two years, he has been extensively engaged with both multinational and small/medium sized manufacturing firms in order to understand servitization in practice, and help the acceleration of the adoption and implementation of advanced services.


Dr David Stewart, Manager of Circular Economy and Digital Manufacturing, High Speed Sustainable Manufacturing Institute 

Dr. David Stewart is the Manager of Circular Economy and Digital Manufacturing for the High Speed Sustainable Manufacturing Institute (HSSMI) in Scotland. HSSMI are an independent research and innovation institute that collaborates with manufacturers, academic institutes and solution providers to deploy innovative technologies, tools and methods to support the UK manufacturing sector.

He is responsible for growing the HSSMI business unit and team in Scotland through the development and delivery of cross sectoral projects. He joined the organisation 4 years ago and has held various positions within the company including overall manager for HSSMI’s Circular Value Chains, Manufacturing New Technologies and Data Analytics teams in London. David has a PhD in Remanufacture and Reverse Logistics and a First class BSc (hons) degree in Product Design, both from University of Strathclyde. He has been responsible for the successful delivery of a number of Circular Economy, Electric vehicle and industry 4.0 based projects (both commercial and R&D) and is currently leading the development of various business maturity and assessment tools, including: Scottish Enterprise’s Industry 4.0 tool, HSSMI Supply Chain Readiness Level (SCRL) and HSSMI Remanufacturing Readiness Level tools. David’s other industrial experience includes working as a consultant at engineering private equity firm, Clyde Blowers Capital (CBC) in East Kilbride, in which he worked on the development of business operating models for implementing into CBC’s acquired portfolio companies. He also has experience in the life sciences sector, working as a design engineer at Invitrogen (now Thermofisher) in Inchinnan.


John Scott, Engineering Director – New Technology, Johnson & Johnson

John has worked for J&J for the last 12 years based at their Inverness facility, the world’s largest blood glucose monitoring manufacturing site. John’s current role is Engineering Director – New Technology where he is responsible for the development and implementation of new manufacturing techniques (whether for an existing product or new products coming through the R&D product cycle).

John has a team of engineers based in Inverness and in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico who manage product & process development; machine specification; project management and equipment validation. John has an engineering degree from Napier University in Edinburgh and is a fellow of both the IMechE and the IET.