Media Release: Virtual conference to help rural businesses go global

SECONDARY school pupils the business community across the Highlands and Islands are being invited to take part in an online virtual conference.

Scottish business leaders will explain how it is possible to run a global business from a rural location using recent developments in communication technology to reach an audience across the Highlands and Islands.

Two leading businessmen, director of Microsoft Scotland, Raymond O’ Hare, and Andrew Lloyd, the chair and chief executive officer of internet business application marketing firm, Pivotal Integration Ltd, are to speak at the conference to chaired by Andrew Thin, chair of Scottish Natural Heritage.

The event, called ‘Live Local, Go Global’, takes place on Wednesday June 18 and is being organised by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and the Highland branch of the Institute of Directors (IOD) along with the Highland Council’s education department and the UHI Millennium Institute.

It will be held in the UHI Millennium Institute’s executive office at Ness Walk, Inverness, and broadcast live via the internet. It will be accessible to businesses, students and school pupils wherever they are through a broadband connection. Viewers will be encouraged to email questions in before and during the event.

It is thought to be the first virtual conference of its kind to include youngsters and has been described as a “groundbreaking initiative,” by local authority educational development officer, Janet Lewis, who is based in Dingwall.

She explained the rationale behind it: “When young people from the Highlands and Islands go off to college or university, they tend to go away and stay away. As a result the areas are becoming de-populated and economically less viable. The whole point of this conference is to try to show youngsters that there is another way of doing business.”

Mrs Lewis said that organisers are delighted to have been able to secure two such influential speakers as Raymond O’ Hare and Andrew Lloyd. She said: “We are talking about people who are serious players in the business field. It is incredible that they have agreed to give up their time and come to Inverness.”

An experienced leader and business manager, Mr O’ Hare has over 28 years experience in business, sales and management across a range of industries including finance, the public sector, utilities, aerospace and manufacturing. In his various roles within the IT industry he has dealt extensively with enterprise, mid market and public sector customers as well as with a wide range of global, UK and local Scottish based partners.

Mr Lloyd, who received his secondary education in the Highland capital, is regarded as a strategic thinker, adept at developing innovative business. He is based in Glasgow but his roles have required frequent worldwide travel, virtual team working and an ability to secure business and enhance relations within many industries, countries and cultures.

Anne Ross, senior development manager at HIE, said: “We are working closely with the Institute of Directors on a number of initiatives and are delighted to be involved in this virtual conference which will raise awareness amongst young people about the possibilities of setting up their own businesses in the area.

“The Highlands and Islands economy is being driven forward to a large extent by small companies and this conference will be of interest to existing businesses as well as those who are thinking of starting a business.”

Paul Holden, chair of the Institute of Directors in the Highlands said: “The IoD is delighted to be involved in this initiative. It is critical that we explore and use all technology that will enable us to sustain and grow an economy as diverse as that in the Highlands and Islands.”

The conference starts at 9.30am and will last for two hours with the speakers answering questions both from the floor and via email. Participants will be asked to evaluate the event afterwards.

This is the fifth virtual conference offered through Learningworks – HIE’s online training and learning resource. The last four conferences reached more than 900 participants in total.

To join the virtual conference go to and follow the instructions to register.

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Contact: Graham Young
Phone: (01463) 244 327