The successful accountants behind the food and drinks industry: ICAS Insights 2018

Office innovation and disruption
By Lesley Stewart, CA Today

2 August 2018

“This was a fascinating evening with three very different speakers – all with interesting stories to tell of how they found their chosen careers,” said Laura Lambie of Investec Wealth & Investment, describing the first ICAS Insights event of 2018.

CAs joined inspirational speakers and fellow members for an evening of discussion and thought leadership for the flagship ICAS Insights series, held in association with our Principal Partner Investec Wealth & Investment.

ICAS hosted influential CAs from the food and drinks industry to discuss the major issues which have affected the sector. The sold-out event saw ICAS members enjoy an evening of cocktails and canapes with leading drinks experts Edrington Group, at their unique global HQ in the heart of Glasgow.

CAs driving growth in food and drink

Bringing together three prominent CAs working in the industry today, the business of food and drink was a lively evening, with leading CAs sharing their career stories and discussing how they managed to break into the industry.

The panel of prominent CAs featured:

  • Paul Ross CA, Managing Director at Edrington Group
  • Martin Dundas CA, Finance Director at Macsween
  • Neil Simpson CA, Finance Director at BrewDog

A force for innovation

The panellists gave an insight into the importance of this sector to Scotland’s economy and highlighted that innovation and enterprise are essential for driving both enterprise and growth.

Senior Investment Director Laura Lambie from Investec Wealth & Investment opened the evenings discussions and shared her thoughts on the role of the industry in Scotland’s economy.

Laura, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Securities & Investment, manages investments for individuals, companies, trusts, and charities and works closely with accountancy and financial services advisers to create unique client portfolios.

Laura said: “This was a fascinating evening with three very different speakers – all with interesting stories to tell of how they found their chosen careers in the food and drink industry.

"This is an incredibly important sector, contributing £14 billion to the Scottish economy and supporting tens of thousands of jobs.

“Whisky is the top contributor with many large producers of premium products such as Edrington’s Macallan and Highland Park. The brewing sector is dominated by smaller craft brewers such as BrewDog and family owned Macsween shows that manufacturing is still an important aspect of the Scottish economy.

A great evening was had by all.”

CAs give their industry insights

Paul Ross, Managing Director of Super Premium Brands and Innovation for Edrington Group discussed how to achieve growth for premium brands in a global market.

As well as overseeing the development of premium brands such as Highland Park Single Malt and Snow Leopard Vodka, Paul manages strategic partnerships and the innovation hub for Edrington in New York. Paul was President and CEO of Edrington Americas, managing all American markets, from 2011 to 2017.

Martin Dundas is Finance Director of Macsween, an independent family business specialising in the manufacture and sale of Scotland’s ‘most loved’ haggis and black pudding.

He delivered a presentation on the trials and tribulations of working in the food industry, including his part in shaping the Macsween strategy for new overseas markets. Martin talked the captivated audience through his North America success story before revealing the realities of weathering the commercial impact of a product recall and a PR storm.

Neil Simpson, Finance Director of craft beer brand BrewDog, described his unexpected career journey that his seen him move from partner at accountancy firm Ritson Smith to FD of the revolutionary brewery.

His role in the rebellious startup has been varied – from bringing much needed finance acumen to the entrepreneurial owners, to scouting for hipster venues for their ever-growing empire of city centre bars. He encouraged CAs to take a risk and not be afraid of getting involved in the food and drinks industry.


  • Career development
  • Leadership and management
  • CA life

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