By Steve Williams, Senior Partner for Deloitte in Scotland and Northern Ireland
There have been few years as eventful as 2016 in recent times – between the race for the White House, Brexit, and the Scottish Parliament election. While it may have been a tough act to follow in terms of drama, 2017 has also certainly been a year to remember, for the way some of the previous year’s events have continued to unfold, if nothing else.
For us, it’s also been a continuation of 2016’s story, when we laid the foundations for a range of commitments to Scotland – namely our new Glasgow office; our Edinburgh Studio and Greenhouse; and our support of Granite in Aberdeen, which won the People award at this year’s Arts & Business Scotland ceremony.
Technology has very much remained the theme in Edinburgh, with the official opening of our Greenhouse facility during April. Part of our existing Digital Studio, it’s a place for our clients to tackle some of their greatest challenges, with access to state-of-the-art equipment including robots, virtual reality headsets, voice technology devices, and a 3D printer, among other things.
It’s already playing a critical role in the local tech and fintech scenes, by hosting Scotland’s first-ever Datathon and our inaugural Disrupt the Enterprise event north of the border. If it’s demonstrated anything, it’s that Scotland is full of ambitious companies with big ideas. Disrupt the Enterprise saw Glasgow’s Castlight Financial win a secondment from our own Hannah Moore to help with its plans for international expansion.
Our commitment to helping Scotland’s start-ups and corporates reinvent their businesses for the future didn’t stop there. In June, Deloitte acquired proposition design consultancy, Market Gravity. The seven-strong team at its Leith studio joined our burgeoning digital offering, giving our clients access to an even wider range of services.
The diversity and growth of Scottish tech was underlined by this year’s Fast 50 regional winner in Scotland: Outplay Entertainment. The games developer grew by an incredible 1,904%, meaning it ranked 11th in the UK and 61st across EMEA – a real achievement and proof, if it was ever required, that Dundee’s gaming industry is among the best in the world.
In Aberdeen, we saw some significant changes in the local economy, buoyed by a recovering oil price and North Sea firms embracing novel technologies and new ways of working. An example of the latter has undoubtedly been collaboration, which we monitor in our annual UKCS Upstream Supply Chain Collaboration Survey with Oil & Gas UK. This year saw the best-ever result, demonstrating that some of the behaviours outlined in the Wood Review are truly beginning to take hold.
It’s also been a big year for our firm in Aberdeen, underlined by two senior appointments to our Granite City practice. Following the retirement of our longstanding Senior Partner in Aberdeen, Derek Henderson, Graham Hollis took up the role, bringing with him decades of experience of working in the oil and gas industry. His appointment was swiftly followed by Caroline Muir moving from our Edinburgh office to Aberdeen to lead from a tax perspective.
Finally, we were excited to get to work on our One Million Futures campaign – an initiative which aims to positively impact the lives of one million young people in the UK. Our chosen charities were Children 1st in Edinburgh; the Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity; and Befriend a Child in Aberdeen, which, after working with our team, launched its Impact Report in August, demonstrating the amazing work the charity undertakes.
Making an impact is what Deloitte is about. If I can say anything about 2017, it’s that we’ve continued to make an impact that matters to our clients, our people, our partners, and the wider Scottish economy. We look forward to continuing that story in 2018.