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Leadership talent attraction, retention and development in Scotland: final report


The objectives of the review were to: understand the current image of Scotland to leaders and decision makers; identify Scotland’s strengths and weaknesses in this area; understand how Scotland’s approach to talent attraction compares, nationally and internationally; examine if the existence of headquarters or head offices are important in attracting/retaining/building talent; examine the importance of strong/vibrant clusters and ‘global brand companies’ in attracting talent; and understand how Scotland’s talent pool compares nationally and internationally.


The report is based on findings collected through an interview survey of representatives from the following key industry groups: recruitment specialists; fund managers/investors; high growth (potential) firms based in Scotland; and industry representative bodies. There were 19 participants in the survey.


The report found that Scotland is considered to have a strong image in terms of leadership, however it can be viewed as potentially risky for someone to locate to as it does not have the same volume of opportunities in terms of career progression as other areas, such as the South East of England. It was found that Scotland also has physical and cultural assets that are viewed as attractive, and has specific opportunities in energy-related fields that are globally attractive. The role of headquarters functions was found to be important historically, especially in engineering, oil and gas and energy services, and the banking segment of financial services, although their influence was considered to be declining. The report suggests that a lack of global brand companies in Scotland has resulted in the country not being attractive to the highest performing and more experienced leaders, as it is perceived as having little to offer this group in terms of commercial/organisational career development. Scotland was found to be well served in the areas of research and development, technical development and financial and operational management, however a specific gap in the provision of commercially experienced entrepreneurs who have successfully launched technology-based businesses, and who can join promising Scottish start-ups or early stage growth companies, was identified.


The report does not make any specific recommendations, but the authors suggest that there are opportunities for Scotland: to enhance its local provision of high quality leadership skills training; and to create something similar to the monthly forum hosted by the Google Campus in London, where investors and companies can come together.

Author O’Herlihy & Co. Ltd
Published Year 2014
Report Type Research
  • Internationalisation
    People/talent attraction
  • Labour Market and Skills
    Leadership/management development