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Chris Giles

It is 20 years since Chris joined the insurance industry and he maintains his passion for it still burns brightly. The Giles Group currently employs more than 1,200 people in 45 branches across the UK. Earlier this year, Giles Insurance was sold for £185 million to the Charterhouse private equity group, which granted £500 million capital for the company to use. Jim Boyle, head of entrepreneurial business for Deloitte in Scotland, said: "Over the last few years, Chris has led the business through a significant number of acquisitions, and the secondary private equity transition in 2008 resulted in Gresham quadrupling their investment in less than two years, a remarkable return by any measure. "Chris is clearly not one setting his sights low and is now looking to build a business with an enterprise value of £500 million and with a gross written premium of £1 billion. "Chris is very much from the 'sales-led' school of growth and is heavily involved in driving the business forward.Chris is an Oxford Graduate and has an MA in English Literature & Language and became an Associate of the Chartered Insurance Institute (ACII) in 1990 and a Fellow of the Chartered Insurance Institute (FCII) in 1993. Chris is married to Audrey with 3 children, Madeleine, 11, Kingsley, 8 and Oskar, 3.

Chris and his family relocated to London in August 2006

Jim McColl, OBE 

Jim left school at 16 to take up an engineering apprenticeship with Weir Pumps at Cathcart in Glasgow.  After six years having studied part time for City & Guilds Ordinary National and Higher National Certificates, he left work to take up full time study at Strathclyde University for a BSc Degree in Technology and Business Studies.  After graduating with an Honours Degree in 1978 he returned to Weir Pumps where he remained for three years while studying part-time for a Masters Degree in Business Administration. In 1981 he moved to a senior management position with Diamond Power Speciality Limited, an engineering company supplying equipment to the power industry worldwide.  During this time he studied part-time for a Masters Degree in International Accounting and Finance. In 1985 Jim was headhunted by Coopers & Lybrand as a senior consultant involved mainly in "corporate care" assignments.   This meant working in various companies who were in financial difficulties and in need of turnaround.    In 1986 he left Coopers to become a self-employed "company doctor" and, after two successful turnarounds, in 1992 he bought 29.9% of a small Scottish engineering company, Clyde Blowers PLC, which had a full listing on the London Stock Exchange.   Turnover at that time was around £4 million, with a loss making core business subsidised by investment income.   The company was the smallest of eight companies doing what it did in the world market.  Over the following five years Jim acquired six of the remaining competitors, consolidating seven companies into one.  Clyde Blowers now has over 55% of the world market in its original product line, and has expanded into other growth engineering sectors.    On Tuesday 8th May 2007, over 135 years after the Weir brothers founded their business, Jim McColl announced the acquisition of Weir Pumps (Glasgow) from The Weir Group plc.  As a result of this transaction, the diverse portfolio of technologies, process knowledge and expertise generated by Weir Pumps was incorporated into a newly created company, Clyde Pumps Ltd saving 600 jobs and an important part of Scotland’s engineering heritage. In September 2008, Jim led the largest transaction in Clyde Blowers’ history by acquiring the entire Fluid  & Power Division of Textron, an American Fortune 500 multi-industry company in a deal worth over $1 billion. Jim recognised that this particular division of Textron offered a range of complementary technologies to Clyde Blowers existing portfolio of companies, as well as the opportunity to expand its presence in the global pumps market. The acquisition, which was uniquely structured including a debt package from a club of four major banks, comprised of four separate businesses. These are Maag Pump Systems, David Brown Gear Systems, David Brown Hydraulics, which now operate as separate portfolio companies within the Clyde Blowers Group, taking the number of such organisations to seven, and Union Pumps, which is being integrated with Clyde Pumps, creating a powerful global provider of pumps to the oil & gas, water, conventional power and nuclear power markets. Over the past 10 years Clyde Blowers has developed into a truly global portfolio of 83 Companies in 27 different countries, employing 5,000 people around the world, with an annual turnover in excess of £1.4 billion. 

Alan Bonner

Prior to joining the telecoms industry Alan Bonner was sales director for BUPA, responsible for growing the sales distribution from 34, to 523 sales people inside four years, contributing revenues of £35 million per annum.

He left BUPA to set up a telecoms consultancy in 1996, during that time he also held the position of National Sales Manager for Atlantic Telecom plc, before founding Pinnacle Telecom Plc in 1998.

Alan aims to build a £50 million business, which creates solutions that join together a company's three core networks (IT network, telephony network and mobile network).

Pinnacle is a fully licensed Public Telephone Operator, has its own telephone network and interconnects with BT, Virgin Media and THUS. As well as this, it has its own hosted voice (VoIP) platforms and engineers.

It is also Scotland's oldest ISP (and a founder member of Nominet), operating from its data centre in Glasgow, which amongst others manages services for Loganair, Flybe, Salon Services and Holiday Inn Express.

By utilising traditional telephony and existing IT and mobile applications, coupled with next generation and DataStream services, Pinnacle is creating bespoke solutions for organisations, which increase efficiency, reduce cost and provide disaster recovery contingencies for customers.

Pinnacle has prospered through organic growth, targeted acquisitions and disposals. Today; Pinnacle Telecom Group plc is listed on the London Stock Exchange with its shares traded on the AIM and Plus markets, Pinnacle is one of Scotland's leading providers of converged telecom solutions, bringing together fixed and mobile telephony, VoIP, broadband, IP and telematics solutions, all bundled and serviced wrapped to the client on one bill.


Comms Business Channel Entrepreneur of The Year

Deliotte Technology Fast500 EMEA (69th)

Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of The Year (Finalist)

Deliotte Technology Fast50 (4th)

The Sunday Times Tech Track 100 (7th)

Deloitte Technology Fast50 (4th)

Comms Channel Awards Winner

The Sunday Times Tech Track 100 (22nd)


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Venue information

Howard Hotel, Edinburgh 34 Great King Street

0131 557 3500

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Mr Alan Bonner, Pinnacle Telecom, www.pinnacle-tele.com


  • Mr Chris Giles, Giles Insurance Brokers, www.gilesinsurance.co.uk
  • Mr Jim McColl, OBE, Clyde Blowers, www.clydeblowers.co.uk
Read the biographies

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