Bill McFarlan has spent his working life in the communications industry. In the mid to late 70s, he was a reporter on four local papers. In the early 80s, he became a newsreader at Radio Clyde then moved to Scottish Television to report and present for Scotland Today. A 10-year association with the BBC followed, in which time he presented Reporting Scotland, Sportscene, Grandstand from Scotland, Worlds Strongest Man and Breakfast News from London. In tandem with his broadcasting career, he set up a media consultancy with BBC colleague Alan Douglas in 1989 largely training business leaders in how to deal with the media. Since then, he's presented more than a thousand courses throughout Britain and across the world. Our other speaker for the evening is Maurice Smith, TVI. Maurice Smith is Managing Director of The Value Innovators (TVI), a leading Scottish based marketing and communications business specialising in the technology, finance and enterprise sectors. The company provides strategic communications planning, tactical PR and media services to a variety of organisations including Voxar, VIS entertainment, Scottish Financial Enterprise and the Scottish Institute for Enterprise. Maurice spent 10 years in newspapers, latterly with the Glasgow Herald, before joining BBC Scotland as Business Editor in 1989. He travelled on more than 30 foreign assignments worldwide for BBC news and business programmes from 1989-97 before taking over several management projects including BBC Scotland's planned headquarters relocation to Pacific Quay, Glasgow. He continues to write for several specialist publications and the Web. Maurice has published two books, on the Scottish media and the family business sector. He also co-owns a copy-writing and Web content business, Gemini Vision Ltd.
The Chairman for the evening is Alastair Balfour, Chairman, The Company Creators. Alastair is an experienced entrepreneur, private investor and writer. He began as a business journalist (The Scotsman, Daily Record, Sunday Standard) and went on to co-found Scottish Business Insider in 1984 after being made redundant with the Standard's closure. He was editor between 1986-1990, then Insider Group's editorial director, managing director (93-98) and finally deputy chairman. With Insider Group's £3m sale to Trinity Mirror Plc in September 1999, Alastair left the company to pursue other interests including private investment and start-ups. He is now chairman of The Company Creators, a business formed in partnership with Stuart Genet, Elie Chilton and Bob McKinven, to get start-up teams to investor-ready status. He is also an investor and non-exec director at Vestech Plc, the Edinburgh-based consultancy which is the UK's first specialist IT Due Diligence service business. Balfour has made several more investments on an arm's length basis in Scottish private companies. He also acts as adviser to the owner-managers of several other businesses. He has co-written a book on Working From Home, published in the US, UK and Australia by Dorling Kindersley. Alastair has written a weekly column on Scottish business matters for 14 years, firstly with the Herald, then The Scotsman and now Business AM. Alastair is a Founder and Director of The Entrepreneurial Exchange.