Graeme Lowdon (38) graduated from the University of Newcastle with an MBA and from the University of Sheffield with a Masters degree in Mechanical Engineering (M.Eng). From 1984 he worked in the power industry, including several overseas assignments in Singapore and Malaysia. From 1989 to 1993, he was a systems engineer with NEI ABB Gas Turbines Limited, following which he moved to ABB Power Generation Ltd in Switzerland to become Manager for South East Asia Power Station Sales. In 1995 Graeme founded Industry On-Line Ltd, which was sold in 2000 to J2C plc for £21.9m. Graeme completed a stock market take-over of J2C plc in 2002. In 2001, Graeme co-founded Ion Holdings (www.ionap.co.uk) (www.uknomad.com) to develop companies with high growth opportunities such as Nomad Digital Ltd. Ion Holdings has also invested in the manufacturing sector, acquiring a company manufacturing high technology, polymer based products mainly for the automotive industry. Nomad Digital Ltd was co-founded by Graeme Lowdon and Nigel Wallbridge. The company is focused on wireless data communications and has pioneered the development of Wi-Fi in the UK market with a number of firsts including the sale of the first commercial Wi-Fi hotspot kits in the UK, the first roaming deals with mobile network operators and the first demonstrations in the UK of WiFi on moving trains. Graeme has been an enthusiastic supporter of the Scottish Entrepreneurial Exchange for several years and is also a member of the Entrepreneurs Forum. He is closely involved in professional motor sport having founded a successful racing team and enjoys also skiing. He lives near Newcastle with his wife and daughter.
Ian Johnstone originally qualified as a pharmacist. He went on to grow Harry Cockburn Chemists Ltd from two outlets to eight before exiting in 2001 and now has a range of investments. He has a joint investment vehicle with John Reid, with interests in several print and graphic arts businesses including J & R Reid Print and Media Group Ltd. He has a number of investments in other companies including a small IT company, a tailoring company and is involved in a spin-out from Glasgow Caledonian University. He is non-executive chairman of a small insurance company, and is still involved in the pharmacy industry. Ian also has a range of investments in commercial and residential property.
The evening will be chaired by Liz McAreavey Chief Executive of Hurricane Restaurants Limited. Liz formerly Managing Director of Le Bistro Hospitality, built the business up from a small sandwich bar/delicatessen, with a turnover of £200,000 to Scotland’s leading independent caterers with an annual turnover approaching £7 million, employing over 150 full time staff and catering at a variety of contracts and locations. Liz sold the Business to Azure Support Service in March 2001. Earlier this year Liz opened the first Bar and Grill of the Hurricane Business Plan in Edinburgh. Liz is passionate about entrepreneurialism and sits on the Board of The Entrepreneurial Exchange of which she is a great supporter and is Chairman of The Entrepreneurial Exchange’s Spring Conference, undoubtedly the most prestigious Conference in Scotland.