Perthshire Businesswomen’s Network celebrates 20th anniversary

Chairperson Jane Rennie welcomed members past and present to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Perthshire Businesswomen’s Network at Grayson’s Wine Café on Tuesday evening (December 5).

The busy event was attended by a number of past presidents, including Anne Bunting, Nicola Martin, Fiona McLellan, Simone Bett and Sara Wood and was a great opportunity for guests to mingle and network in a relaxed and friendly festive atmosphere.

Jane Rennie thanked members for their support during the year, and revealed that PBN is all set to launch a new website today (Friday).

Jane said: “It’s been another hugely successful year for PBN which has been marked by a number of high profile business events which have attracted some of Scotland’s top entrepreneurs and business leaders, including Chris van der Kuyl (4j Studios), Oli Norman (itison) and Helen Smout (Culture Perth & Kinross).

“As well as our monthly breakfast and evening networking sessions, we have had a great response to our ‘Striving For Excellence’ and ‘Big Business Breakfast’ meetings. Building on this success, we are developing an exciting programme of business and networking opportunities for 2018 which will feature top name speakers and the introduction of a new ‘learning lunch’ element where members can tap into relevant training topics over lunch.

“Full details of these events will be advertised on PBN’s new website which has been developed by PBN committee member Tricia Fox and her team at the Volpa PR and Marketing Agency.

“I’d like to encourage local businesswomen to join our friendly organisation. You will be made very welcome.”

More information about Perthshire Businesswomen’s Network at

Top entrepreneur Chris van der Kuyl is inspirational guest speaker at Perthshire Businesswomen’s Network Big Breakfast

To celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week 2017, Perthshire Businesswomen’s Network (PBN) in association with Business Gateway, has lined up Chris van der Kuyl as guest speaker at The Big Business Breakfast on November 15.

Chairman and Co-Founder of 4J Studios, and one of the UK’s most successful videogame developers, Chris will talk about the challenges of global entrepreneurship. He will also discuss the much-anticipated Water’s Edge commercial office space project being developed by Tayforth Properties Ltd. in Dundee. Tayforth is co-owned by Chris and Paddy Burns (co-founder of 4J Studios).

The Big Business Breakfast – set in the stunning surroundings of Perth Racecourse – is open to both men and women and celebrates entrepreneurship at any scale. It also includes the opportunity for informal networking.

PBN Chairwoman Jane Rennie said:

“We are delighted and honoured that Chris van der Kuyl has agreed to be our guest speaker. I know delegates will look forward, as much as I do, to hearing about Chris’ remarkable entrepreneurial career which combines the start-up, development and market listed business arena in the technology, media and entertainment sectors. His business experience is second to none and we are thrilled he will be joining us.”

Sarah McAninch from Business Gateway Perthshire said:

“We work with local businesses on a daily basis so we know that the vast majority want more networking opportunities and events that give them the chance to listen to experts. Therefore, we’re delighted to support this event which has been designed to appeal to those that are just about to launch an enterprise as well as seasoned business owners.”

Chris van der Kuyl is Chairman and Co-Founder of 4J Studios, one of the UK’s most successful videogame developers and responsible for the multi-million selling and multi-award-winning Minecraft Console editions. Minecraft is a global phenomenon and is currently on track to become the most successful videogame of all time.

Chris is also co-founder of Tayforth Properties, which is currently transforming Dundee’s historic transit Shed 25 into the state-of-the-art Water’s Edge commercial office development. The concept behind Water’s Edge is to nurture creative thinking, encourage collaboration and enhance productivity. This landmark development, which combines historic detail with modern aesthetic and cutting-edge technology, co-working space and meeting rooms, is expected to open later this year.

Chris is a visiting professor of digital entertainment at the University of Abertay Dundee and has been awarded honorary degrees from the University of Dundee, Abertay University, Edinburgh Napier University, University of Edinburgh and University of Strathclyde.

Elected as one of the youngest Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Chris sits on the boards of TV Squared, Scottish Institute for Enterprise, Scottish EDGE Advisory, Informatics Ventures Advisory, Dundee Science Centre, Dundee Museums Trust and the High School of Dundee.

Chris is also the founding Chairman of Entrepreneurial Scotland which represents all Scotland’s entrepreneurial talent and exists to inspire, connect and develop entrepreneurial behaviour in all Scotland’s people.

The Big Business Breakfast is on Wednesday, November 15 from 8-10am at Perth Racecourse. Tickets cost £12 (PBN members) and £15 (non-members) and are available by following the link on the PBN website

Perthshire Businesswomen to visit Scotland’s coolest office and meet itison founder Oli Norman

A state-of-the-art workplace, fully stocked prosecco bar and beer fridge, duvet days, and a yoga space are just some of the staff perks which helped catapult itison into The Sunday Times Top 100 Best Small Companies to Work For list earlier this year.

And founder Oli Norman will be sharing the secrets of his success at Perthshire Businesswomen’s Network’s latest ‘Striving For Excellence’ inspirational talks series in Glasgow this Thursday, August 31, from 6.30-9pm.

Jane Rennie, PBN Chairwoman said: “Ever wondered what it’s like to work in the coolest office ever? Want to know about the entrepreneur behind the business? Then hop on the Perthshire Businesswomen’s Network bus and come with us on a trip to Glasgow.

“Oli Norman, the founder of deals online site itison and DADA PR will welcome us to his not so humble abode and entertain us with his entrepreneurial journey which, by his own admission, includes breaking royal scandals in the world of journalism, cracking cases training as a lawyer, and writing TV shows (as well as appearing in a few).

“Oli embarked on his real passion at 24, growing businesses and creating a place where he wants to work. And, as proud owner of one of the coolest places to work in the UK, it’s a career move at which he has excelled.

“Oli’s first business, DADA, grew and achieved exciting results, and in 2008 Oli was named Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year. In September 2010, Oli launched itison and the rest is history.

“At work, Oli is focussed on strategy and innovation, helping itison enjoy exciting growth. He also owns Sloans, Glasgow’s oldest bar and restaurant, Brel in the West End of Glasgow, Maggie May’s and the iconic Griffin bar opposite The King’s Theatre.”

The bus will leave from Broxden Park & Ride in Perth at 5pm on Thursday, August 31 (5.15pm departure) and then will return to Perth from Glasgow’s Merchant City at 9pm (arrival Perth estimated at 10.15pm). Coach transport is included in your ticket price for this event.

Tickets costing £22 (PBN members) and £31 for non-members are available on Eventbrite via the PBN website ( Ticket price includes travel to and from Glasgow.

For more information about Perthshire Businesswomen’s Network (PBN) contact Alison Lowson on 0758 409 3354 or by email

AliBob duo share their recipe for success with Perthshire’s businesswomen at latest PBN ‘Striving For Excellence’ talk

Team work and a great scone recipe are the secrets behind the success of the award-winning AliBob Café in Errol.

That was the upbeat message from Ali and Bob Abercrombie who were the latest high-profile Perthshire entrepreneurs to address Perthshire Businesswomen’s Network (PBN) as part of the group’s highly successful ‘Striving For Success’ inspirational talks series.

The couple were also joined by fellow guest speaker Lynn Cunningham from The Poverty Alliance at the well-attended event in the Cairn o’Mhor Winery on Thursday evening (July 27).

Ali Abercrombie held her audience enthralled with how she and husband Bob gave up high-powered jobs in UN procurement and the court service in Bosnia to follow their dream of opening a restaurant.

She also talked about the challenges of working with your partner 24/7: “We are both very different personalities but it works because we are passionate about the business.”

And revealed the meaning behind the quirky names she gives her home-made soups: “A customer asked why the soup of the day was called ‘Hole In My Bucket’? Obvious really … it’s full of leeks!”

Beforehand, the Poverty Alliance’s newly-appointed Living Wage Accreditation Officer Lynn Cunningham championed the business benefits of paying the real Living Wage of £8.45 an hour to PBN members.

Said Lynn: “When PBN board member Tricia Fox invited me to speak at this high profile business event I jumped at the opportunity to share the very real advantages of paying a real Living Wage.

“The link between paying the real Living Wage and what you get from staff in return is well documented. Research has proved that if staff are treated well, employers will reap the benefits of increased productivity, better attendance levels and a strongly motivated workforce.

“Becoming a Living Wage employer sends a strong message about company values, which in turn makes it easier to recruit – and retain –  top quality staff. It can also attract ethically responsible consumers and even extends to competitive tendering.

“By being accredited as a real Living Wage employer – like Perth & Kinross Council – companies and organisations can demonstrate their commitment to Fair Work when tendering for public sector work.”

And she added: “I’m keen to get the message across to the business community and am happy to come out to speak to employers, staff and business organisations. You can contact me by telephone 07846 375349 or email”

PBN board member Tricia Fox has been championing the real Living Wage since her award-winning  Marketing & PR Agency was accredited by the Living Wage Foundation, in partnership with the Poverty Alliance, in April 2015.

Tricia Fox, Managing Director of Perth-based Volpa, explained: “Being a responsible business is about making a difference to both your customers and your employees, it’s not just about delivering profit to the bottom line in any given year. Employees are at the heart of any business and it’s important to have a team that are focused on delivering your business exceptional results. Not only that, becoming a Living Wage Employer can boost the profile of your business and it’s a great thing to be able to shout about through the media and on social media. Modern employers really need to start asking themselves how they can pay a living wage, not if.”

PBN’s 2017 ‘Striving For Excellence’ series has attracted an impressive line-up of inspirational speakers including Iain Hutchison (Managing Director of world-leading drilling engineering experts Merlin ERD) and most recently Ali and Bob Abercrombie (co-owners of the award-winning AliBob Café at Cairn O’Mohr Winery in Errol).

The line-up for the rest of the year includes: Oli Norman (founder and owner of deals online site itison and Dada PR), Helen Smout (Chief Executive of Culture Perth & Kinross) and Chris van der Kuyl (co-founder of 4J Studios and developer of the Minecraft console editions).

Cappuccino and networking at PBN’s next Business Breakfast at Blend Coffee Lounge

Perthshire Businesswomen’s Network is holding its next Business Breakfast at Blend Coffee Lounge in Perth on Monday, July 31 from 7.45-9.30am.

The drop-in event is a great opportunity to enjoy a cappuccino while chatting to fellow entrepreneurs and businesswomen in an informal and friendly setting.

Jane Rennie, PBN Chairwoman, said: “All businesswomen in Perthshire are very welcome to come along to our Business Breakfast events. It’s a great opportunity to connect with likeminded people and expand your network of contacts.

“The 15 minute ‘hot slot’ is still available on the 31st. Just drop me an email at if you would like to snap up this fantastic chance to promote your business.”

The event is free, but organisers would be grateful if you could follow the link on the website so they can gauge numbers.



Rebooted PBN unveils exciting programme of speakers and events in ambitious bid to sign-up 100 new members

A dynamic new committee has “rebooted” Perthshire Businesswomen’s Network (PBN) with an exciting programme of speakers and events.

And chairwoman Jane Rennie hopes the shake-up will attract a raft of new members as PBN aims for 100 sign-ups by the end of 2017.

Jane, MD of ConsultingM3 Limited, an international training and development consultancy, said: “It’s an ambitious target, but I’m confident that it’s achievable.

“We want to get a better mix of social/business events and create an organisation that’s relevant to modern businesswomen of all ages, backgrounds and experiences.

“Inspired by the full and frank feedback we’ve received from our members, the committee is pulling together an exciting programme of events and speakers to inspire, inform and entertain.”

Business events co-ordinator Tricia Fox (MD of Volpa, Perthshire’s biggest full-service PR and Marketing agency) has enticed some of Scotland’s biggest business names to speak at PBN’s ‘Striving For Excellence’ lecture series.

First up is Iain Hutchison, Managing Director of world-leading drilling engineering experts Merlin ERD, who will share the secrets of their success at the Grampian Hotel in Perth on Thursday, June 15 at 7pm.

Added Tricia Fox: “It’s a great opportunity for members and guests to learn from one of Scotland’s emerging business leaders and innovators, and PBN is delighted that Iain has taken time out of his busy schedule to participate in our ‘Striving for Excellence’ lecture series.

“Such is the advance interest in this ‘mixed event’ that we’ve thrown it open to other business networks in Perth. Members are also encouraged to invite male colleagues and partners.”

High profile speakers confirmed for later this year include: Ali and Bob Abercrombie, the business brains behind AliBob@Cairn o Mohr (July); Itson’s Oli Norman (August); and Culture PK’s Helen Smout (October).

Tickets for the June 15 event cost £16 (PBN members) and £20 for non-members and are available on Eventbrite via the PBN website ( Ticket price includes tea/coffee and a finger buffet.

To join Perthshire Business Women’s Network (PBN), please contact chairwoman Jane Rennie

Merlin ERD’s Iain Hutchison is guest speaker at PBN’s ‘Striving For Excellence’ talks series

Iain Hutchison, Managing Director of world-leading drilling engineering experts Merlin ERD, will share the secrets of their success at a special event hosted by Perthshire Businesswomen’s Network (PBN).

Part of PBN’s ‘Striving for Excellence’ series, the talk will be held at the Grampian Hotel in Perth on Thursday, June 15 at 7pm.

Merlin ERD Ltd provides expert engineering and training support to the oil and gas industry across the world. Their skills and can-do Scottish approach allow stranded hydrocarbon pools to be tapped and brought to market. Involved with the world’s most challenging wells, it is not uncommon for them to engineer solutions to reduce costs and deliver wells previously deemed impossible; and have the accolades to prove it!

Uniquely located in Perth  – outwith Scotland’s oil and gas “capital” of Aberdeen – Merlin ERD celebrates its 10th anniversary this year and also has the distinction of holding two Queen’s Awards for Enterprise, the pinnacle of UK business success.

Merlin’s second award in 2016 recognised the company’s impressive growth having quadrupled their multi-million pound turnover during the assessment period, with an ever-increasing net profit. By the end of 2014, this local Perth business had gainful employment for almost 40 personnel.

Recent years have been challenging as the oil and gas industry suffered its worst downturn in recent times. Merlin wasn’t immune, but remained in profit, whilst protecting its technical staff.

Said Iain: “Anyone can run a business in a buoyant growth market, but it takes, determination, focus and support of a loyal team to successfully navigate a market crisis.”

Added Jane Rennie, PBN Chairwoman: “We are delighted that Iain has taken time out of his busy schedule to participate in PBN’s ‘Striving for Excellence’ series of talks.

“It’s a great opportunity for members and guests to learn from one of Scotland’s emerging business leaders and innovators. We look forward to hearing about the lessons he has learnt on his business journey. I am sure it will be a very inspirational session for the PBN audience, and provide a fresh outlook on how to address some of the challenges our members face.

“Such is the advance interest in this ‘mixed’ event, PBN is extending an invitation to other business networks in Perth. Members are also encouraged to invite colleagues and partners.”

Tickets costing £16 (PBN members) and £20 for non-members are available on Eventbrite via the PBN website ( Ticket price includes tea/coffee and a finger buffet.