Benny Higgins (Chairman)
Benny Higgins believes passionately in the transformative power of the arts and music. Benny has held a number of senior executive roles in the banking sector, including with Standard Life, RBS, HBOS, and becoming Chief Executive of Tesco Bank in 2008. Under his leadership, Tesco Bank grew to serve more than 6 million customers with over 4,000 staff in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Newcastle. Benny was also Group Strategy Director for Tesco plc. He retired from Tesco in February 2018. In June 2018, Benny was appointed by the Scottish Government as strategic adviser for the establishment of the Scottish National Investment Bank. He is also Chairman of the National Galleries of Scotland, Chairman of Kyckr Ltd, a non-executive director of Glasgow Life, trustee of Burrell Renaissance, non-executive director of the Buccleuch Group and and non-executive director of Arabian Centres. He is a visiting professor at Strathclyde University and the Edinburgh Business School based in Heriot-Watt University. Benny is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
Kezia Dugdale was born in Aberdeen and studied Law at the University of Aberdeen, before completing a Masters’ degree in Public Policy at the University of Edinburgh. She previously served as Scottish Labour’s Deputy Leader, Shadow Minister for Youth Employment and as Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning. She was an MSP for Lothian region from 2011 to 2019, sitting on the Economy, Jobs and Fair Work Committee as well as the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body. She was leader of the Scottish Labour Party from 2015 to 2017. In April 2019, she was appointed Director of the John Smith Centre for Public Service at the University of Glasgow.
Dr Lois Fitch joined the Sistema Scotland Board in June 2020. She is Assistant Principal of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, providing academic leadership for the Conservatoire's curriculum in learning, teaching, research and knowledge exchange as well as ensuring the robustness of quality assurance and policies and procedures. A musicologist, Lois pursues research interests in New Music, and the interdisciplinary relationships between music and other performing arts. Lois has nearly 20 years' teaching experience in higher education, including as Deputy and then Head of Undergraduate Programmes at the Royal Northern College of Music. Lois is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and Member of Council of the Royal Musical Association.
Angiolina Foster CBE
Angiolina Foster CBE has been a Board Member of Sistema Scotland since June 2018. She is an experienced public service leader who has worked in Local Government, National Government and the Third Sector, as well as the NHS. Prior to her retirement in 2021 she was Chief Executive of NHS 24. Throughout her career, she has drawn inspiration from the local communities that she has served, as well as from the dedicated colleagues with whom she has worked. This is very much the case in her work with Sistema Scotland also. Angiolina received a CBE in 2011 for her contribution to public services in Scotland.
In addition to her role with Sistema Scotland, Angioina is a Trustee with Playlist for Life, a UK Charity dedicated to the understanding and adoption of the benefits of personally meaningful music for people with dementia.
Hornist Fergus McWilliam was born in Scotland and has been a member of the Berlin Philharmonic since 1985. In addition to the orchestra’s Principal Conductors Herbert von Karajan, Claudio Abbado and Sir Simon Rattle, Fergus has performed with Leonard Bernstein, Carlos Kleiber, Günter Wand, Carlo Maria Giulini, Raphael Kubelik, Bernard Haitink, Eugen Jochum, Klaus Tennstedt, Sergiu Celibidache, Seiji Ozawa, Riccardo Muti, Pierre Boulez, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, James Levine and Daniel Barenboim. Other historical figures with whom he performed, collaborated, or by whom he was personally influenced include Aaron Copland, György Ligeti, Leopold Stokowski, Mstislav Rostropovich and Glenn Gould.
He was active in orchestra politics for over 23 years, chairing and serving on committees responsible for the Berlin Philharmonic’s famous self-administration, and as a member of its Board of Trustees.
Fergus is an active teacher with students from around the world; he gives master classes at leading music schools in many different countries, and is the author of a popular book on horn pedagogy. He has also enjoyed a decade-long involvement with the Venezuelan El Sistema’s wind and brass programme.
Catherine Muirden is a People Director who specialises in Business Change. After graduating from Edinburgh University, her management career began at Marks and Spencer, where she held senior HR positions including Group Head of Recruitment. After 6 years as Human Resources Director in the Retail Bank at Barclays, in 2014 she was brought into the Co-operative Group as a leader in the turnaround of the Food business, where she was People Director until her retirement in December 2019. She maintains a keen interest in youth employability, leadership development, and culture change in business.
Catherine is a current board member of Scottish Ballet, a Trustee of the National Galleries of Scotland, a former Chair of The Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh and former non-executive director of the Crieff Hydro Group of Hotels.
Paul Philbert MBE
Born in London, Paul Philbert MBE displayed his musical propensity early in life, studying at the Purcell School of Music, and further, at Trinity College of Music. He then established himself on the professional stage as the founding Principal Timpanist of the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra in 1998. Paul has appeared as a guest performer with many renowned ensembles in the UK and Asia, including the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, the Philharmonia, BBC Symphony, the Hallé, Qatar Philharmonic and Seoul Philharmonic, to name but a few.
In 2015, Paul became the founding Principal Timpanist of the Chineke! Orchestra. He was also appointed Principal Timpanist of the Orchestra of Opera North, a position he held for three years before moving to Scotland where he is now the Principal Timpanist and a Player-Director with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, a Timpani Tutor at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, and continues his role with Chineke!
Irene Tweedie left BBC Scotland in 2006 after 12 years as Head of Finance, Property and Business Affairs.
Educated at Stirling University, she is a mathematics graduate who taught in secondary schools before moving to industry and training as a Chartered Management Accountant.
She gained broad experience working in London in the contracting and oil exploration industries then returned to Scotland to work in silicon glen before spending 6 years with Price Waterhouse as a management consultant.
As part of BBC Scotland’s Board, Irene has a proven track record in strategic planning and building and leading teams. Irene lives in Bothwell and is on the boards of three charities which support people with learning disablities: ProjectAbility, Indepen-dance and Glasgow Disabled Scouts. She is also a board member of the Citizens Theatre.
Over the last 25 years Andrew has become a well-known figure in business and public life as an economist, former politician and communications strategist. After graduating with a degree in politics and economics from the University of Strathclyde, Andrew began his career in the civil service in the Government Economic Service. He then worked as researcher and economist for the SNP before a short spell as a business economist at RBS.
He was elected as a member of the first Scottish Parliament in 1999. There, he served as Shadow Minister for, variously: Finance, Economy, Transport and Lifelong Learning. In 2003, Andrew re-joined RBS as Deputy Chief Economist. During the banking crisis, he served as Head of Group Communications and was intimately involved in the bank’s high-profile engagement with the City and the UK Government during those tumultuous times. In 2012, prior to the launch of Charlotte Street Partners, Andrew joined global marcomms giant WPP Group in a client strategy role working with agencies and group across the full range of services including media and advertising. Andrew writes and broadcasts regularly.
He is a Trustee of the John Smith Centre for Public Service and the Edinburgh International Culture Summit and a member of the David Hume Institute and Institute for Fiscal Studies. In September 2016 he was appointed to chair the Sustainable Growth Commission, which reported to the First Minister in May 2018. He was also a member of the Independent Commission on Referendums based at UCL's Constitution Unit, reporting in July 2018.