What is striking when you read the thoughts of our contributors, is the scale of change, volatility and unpredictability with which they are dealing. The commentary across Scotland and the rest of the world is one of unprecedented upheaval as governments, populations and organisations grapple with a general discontent. One of the great privileges of my role here in Scotland is that I am able to discuss with and learn from a wide range of sectors, organisations and people, with insightful and contrasting interpretations of Scotland, its position in the world and its future.
This led me to ponder a question, “Is the level of change taking place in Scotland and Europe in political, economic, social and cultural spheres likened to a second Enlightenment and if so, what should be our response”?
The approving views of the likes of Voltaire and Benjamin Franklin on Scotland, in parallel with Scotland’s own immense Enlightenment figures, was testament indeed to the relevance of this small country in the world. The Enlightenment challenged deeply held beliefs and routines and some would say caused chaos at a time when the order of things was simply defined by God. It took a special group of people to challenge centuries-old thinking and present an alternative.
Scotland seems to have developed, once again, a national persuasion to challenge the established order, making sense of an alternative and embracing the need for change.
But what of our response to this opportunity? The comments made by one of our contributors Lesley Franklin, the future Principal of George Heriot’s School, Edinburgh, on the importance of education, immediately resonate. In the 18th century, Scotland had one of the highest levels of literacy in the world and this undoubtedly contributed to its influence at the time. The need for Scotland to once again dominate the international league tables in education is now more important than ever. And so we come back to the calibre of the people leading such organisations, be they educational, charitable, political or commercial. Three of whom we are grateful to have been able to interview for this edition of Canvas.
The ability of individuals to thrive and see opportunity when others see only chaos, is an essential attribute and is increasingly sought by organisations. The leadership of companies and institutions will set the tone for how we approach this time and ultimately how we experience it. Sharing insight and experience will continue to develop a culture that stimulates the thought of a second Enlightenment.
So let us hope Scotland maintains ‘a great faith in progress or the belief that the present is better than the past and that the future will be better than the present’, whatever that may be.
Peta leads the Consumer and Retail practice. She came to the firm with over 20 years retail experience across Store Operations, Human Resources and international Recruitment and Development. She joined Tesco PLC as a graduate and held a number of senior roles including Store Director, with P&L accountability and the operational development and growth of the hypermarket format in Scotland and North England. She then developed her career reporting to the Executive Board as Group Talent Director, accountable for the recruitment and leadership development of Functional & Country COO’s and CEO’s. In 2012 she was approached by Asda Walmart to join as their Group Talent & Diversity Director reporting to the Executive Board, accountable for executive and board recruitment, professional development, diversity strategy, colleague training & development strategy and advisor to Walmart for the international Talent strategy.
Peta has a BAHons degree in Business studies and Post Graduate Diploma in HR Management from Napier University in Edinburgh. She is a member of the Red Cross committee for Edinburgh and the Lothians.