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Scottish Business Network unveils first ‘ambassador’

Russell Dalgleish and Sandy Donaldson (pic: Terry Murden)

Scottish businessman Russell Dalgleish has enlisted US-based ex-patriate Sandy Donaldson as the first of what is expected to be a network of global ambassadors.

Glasgow-born and educated Mr Donaldson has launched a “chapter” of the Scottish Business Network in Atlanta and further chapters are expected to follow soon, with New York and Miami the most advanced.

On a visit to Edinburgh, Mr Donaldson, who works in digital marketing for a pharmaceuticals company, told Daily Business he saw “huge potential” in the SBN network as a means to connect with communities of locally-based Scots in overseas territories.

Mr Donaldson said the network can open doors for Scottish firms to build customers and get advice from other Scots working abroad.

“It is hard to lose your Scottishness,” he said. “There are various reasons why people leave Scotland but it is always with a heavy heart.

“We have a history of wanting to support each other and after 20 years abroad I have been looking for a way to put something back.”

SBN research has discovered a bigger-than-expected number of Scots in cities and regions around the world. In the area around Atlanta, there are about 700 Scots. Thirty gathered at an inaugural meeting of the chapter.

Edinburgh-based Jim Rae, whose brands and document management company Docs24 has an office in neighbouring South Carolina, addressed the meeting, outlining how he had gained from establishing local connections. He said he had received a lot of feedback following the session.

Mr Dalgleish said that Scots in Houston, San Francisco and Washington had been in touch about setting up chapters. The New York chapter will launch during Tartan Week in April led by Fraser Grier, a lawyer with Abrams & Abrams in New York.

“There are 5,500 Scots in New York, so imagine the influence they could have,” he said.

SBN, which works alongside Scottish Enterprise’s global Scots programme, is launching a diaspora survey, a piece of research looking at the views of the Scottish community across the globe.

More than 1,000 individuals from 76 countries contributed to the research, providing some unique insights on how to take SBN forward.

UPDATE 19 Feb: The survey found that while Scotland’s brand is seen as friendly and trustworthy, the nation also needs to become less inward-looking, strengthen its global mindset and export more.

It showed 72% of respondents viewed Scotland as “friendly”, 45% described it as “resilient”, 44% classified Scotland as “entrepreneurial”, 35% said it was “progressive” but only 29% of the sample described Scotland as “outward looking”.

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