Our highly experienced judging panel is represented by each of the partners and representatives from the region’s most influential bodies. Judges will score and pick the winners from the individual interviews.

George Elliot
Former Partner Grant Thornton
Chairman of listed and VC backed Tech Companies

George Elliott has a proven track record in profitably scaling technology companies. Since 2007 he has been non-executive chair/director of over 25 companies.

His main achievements centre around building businesses, including four initial public offerings (IPOs) that compete and win on the global stage. Recently he has focussed on working with early stage growth companies.

George is currently non-executive chair of Safehinge Group Ltd, which designs and manufactures products for mental health hospitals in the UK and the US and Melrose Rugby Ltd, which is based at The Greenyards, Melrose, in the Scottish Borders.
George was a keynote speaker on The Role of the Non-Executive Director in Growing a Company, a programme organised by the University of Edinburgh Business School and FWB Park Brown. He is also a regular presenter at conferences and dinners.

George, formerly a partner of Grant Thornton, is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland and has a degree in Accountancy and Finance from Heriot-Watt University. George is a former rugby player having captained both Heriots FP, Melrose RFC and Scottish Schools under 19 age group. He lives in the Scottish Borders and is a keen salmon fisher.

Mairi Mickel
Mairi Mickel’s Business Families

Mairi Mickel is an FFI Advanced qualified Family Business advisor with her own consultancy specialising in family dynamics, governance and communication. Supporting generational and business transitions through a blend of coaching, mediating and advising, she hold safe spaces for UK SME business families and their owners to make collective decisions about their futures together.

Previously a main board director, she continues to be an active 4th generation owner of her 98 year old Scottish construction family firm, Mactaggart & Mickel Group Ltd. She holds an independent director role on a 2nd Generation Family business in Colorado and is a Visiting Professor at the Strathclyde University Business School.

Fraser Gray
Maven Income and Growth VCT 4 PLC

Fraser holds a number of non executive Board positions and is presently the Chairman of Maven Income and Growth VCT 4 and Audit and Risk Chair of Denholm Energy Services.
Recent non executive roles were Chairman of Richard Irvin FM and Chairman of the Audit and Risk Committee for Bonhill Plc.

Fraser is a restructuring specialist and has assisted clients to buy and sell businesses for 30 years. He has personally participated in four M&A transactions and brings this perspective when assisting clients. Fraser led the Scottish restructuring practice of Kroll and was appointed UK Service Line leader when the business was acquired by MMC in 2004. Having led the Practice for 4 years, Fraser was a founder Partner of the Zolfo Cooper restructuring business which was bought from MMC in 2008. He subsequently became a Managing Director in AlixPartners restructuring practice following their merger with Zolfo Cooper Europe in 2015.

A Chartered Accountant, retired licensed Insolvency Practitioner and Accredited Mediator, Fraser has been a regular speaker at technical conferences both as Chairman and contributor.

Jane Stewart
Chair and Non-Executive Director
Topolytics, Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult & Macphie

Jane Stewart is an independent director and Chartered Accountant with over 25 years’ Board level experience across industry, private equity investment and corporate finance. She is a Non-Executive Director / Chair with a portfolio of interests from private company Boards at varying stages of growth (environmental and technology sectors) to the Circular Economy Investment Fund. A Women’s Enterprise Scotland Ambassador, Jane has been recognised by Innovate UK in the National Women in Innovation Awards 2022 as one of the UK’s leading female entrepreneurs and was Highly Commended Scottish Businesswoman of the Year 2017.

Irene Steel

Experienced CFO and Non-Executive Director

Irene Steel has 20 years’ experience formulating and delivering strategic plans in the PLC, SME, Charity and Private Equity sectors at Executive level. She qualified as a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland following her training with PwC where she was based in Edinburgh, London and Kyiv.

Irene has managed the financial operations for Marks & Spencer, Heineken, The Edrington Group and most recently as Finance Director at high growth FMCG business, Genius Foods and as Chief Financial Officer of the not-for-profit start up, Circularity Scotland.

As NED of Fettes College she has overseen the Financial Governance for 9 years ensuring, each year, that over £2m of transformational bursaries are gifted to 70-80 pupils. Whilst a NED at Mindroom, the Scottish charity which supports children and young people living with learning difficulties, she assisted in establishing the Salvesen Mindroom Centre.

Ian Steele
Non-Executive Director

Ian Steele qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1980 with Arthur Young McClelland Moores. His subsequent career involved time with The British Linen Bank, Touche Ross, Rutherford Manson Dowds and Deloitte. Ian retired as Senior Partner for Deloitte in Scotland and Northern Ireland in 2015 and prior to retiring, had been on the UK Board of Deloitte LLP for over eight years.

Ian was a Corporate Finance Advisory Partner with Deloitte and was Head of Global Advisory for three years. Ian is currently on the board of the STV Group plc, and a Non-Executive Director of Continuum Advisory Partners. Ian is a member of the Constitutional Panel of ICAS and formerly Chairman of Iomart Group plc.

John O’Donnell
Chief Financial Officer

John O’Donnell is the CFO of Optos, a medical device company which produces ultra-widefield retinal imaging devices. Optos employs over 500 people with two primary locations one in Dunfermline the other just outside Boston. It sells devices all over the world with the US being the single largest market. Optos was listed on the LSE main market until May 2015 when it was acquired by Nikon Corporation.

John joined Optos in 2012 to support a Group Reporting project and was soon appointed VP Finance for the International business. In July 2016 after Optos was acquired by Nikon he took on the role of VP Group Finance and then becoming CFO.

Optos revenue’s have doubled since John joined, testament to the strength of the devices designed and developed in Dunfermline, and the clinical evidence that demonstrates the impact these devices have on patient care, which are sold to eye care professionals globally.
Prior to Optos, John has enjoyed a range of finance leadership roles in both professional services companies and executive education.