Why we're heading to Scotland

EDITOR'S BLOG: MT's up in Edinburgh this month for our Inspiring Women conference.

by Matthew Gwyther
Last Updated: 18 Mar 2016

We've a strong Scottish flavour this month. Not only in interviewing Jayne-Anne Gadhia, the boss of Virgin Money who is based in Edinburgh, but also in spending time with Flybe who are vital to the Scottish economy. And we have a column from Chris Deerin, one of Scotland's most talented controversialists who has blocked more 'Yes' nationalists than I've had haggis suppers. If you don't follow him on Twitter you are missing a life-affirming treat.

Jayne-Anne is the star attraction at our Inspiring Women conference in Edinburgh on 17 March - hurry, hurry while tickets last. She's a brilliantly open and fresh force for good in the stroppy, macho culture of UK banking. Her report for the Treasury on women in finance, due out this month, will ask why when women provide 60% of the intake into financial services do so few females make it up to anywhere near the top. On the subject of women headed for the top - nominations are now open for our famous 35 Women Under 35 list for 2016. Enter now.

Did testosterone-fuelled irrational exuberance combined with male greed lead fatefully to the crash and depression of 2008? I don't know. But with a reward package said to be worth £3.65m last year, Gadhia certainly brings home a sum that would make many male bankers wildly envious.

Saad Hammad will certainly be well rewarded if he gets the Flybe share price up from just above sea level to cruising altitude of 38,000 feet. He's a compelling boss and turnaround champion with opinions about most things but the Air Passenger Duty gives him a bad case of mid-air turbulence. The SNP has promised to reduce APD - as it promises much on the money front - but this will not be an easy sell to Chancellor George Osborne. HMRC figures show UK passengers are currently paying more than £3.1bn a year to take to the skies. In 1995, this was a mere £331m.

When Hammad took over he had six days' cash left and was worried he might not be able to make payroll. Things while now looking brighter are still tough. I hope Flybe can make it. Getting me home from Exeter Airport to my doorstep in SW London in one hour 35 minutes was quite something. The same journey has taken me five hours by train and six hours by car in the past. As much as I love and admire Stonehenge, there are only so many times you want to see it from the South as you crawl past on the A303 while stuck in a 10-mile traffic jam.

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