Benny Higgins (Chairman)
Benny Higgins believes passionately in the transformative power of the arts and music. Benny has held a number of senior executive roles in the banking sector, including with Standard Life, RBS, HBOS, and becoming Chief Executive of Tesco Bank in 2008. Under his leadership, Tesco Bank grew to serve more than 6 million customers with over 4,000 staff in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Newcastle. Benny was also Group Strategy Director for Tesco plc. He retired from Tesco in February 2018. In June 2018, Benny was appointed by the Scottish Government as strategic adviser for the establishment of the Scottish National Investment Bank. He is also Chairman of the National Galleries of Scotland, Chairman of Kyckr Ltd, a non-executive director of Glasgow Life, trustee of Burrell Renaissance, non-executive director of the Buccleuch Group and and non-executive director of Arabian Centres. He is a visiting professor at Strathclyde University and the Edinburgh Business School based in Heriot-Watt University. Benny is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
Dr Lois Fitch joined the Sistema Scotland Board in June 2020. She is Assistant Principal of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, providing academic leadership for the Conservatoire's curriculum in learning, teaching, research and knowledge exchange as well as ensuring the robustness of quality assurance and policies and procedures. A musicologist, Lois pursues research interests in New Music, and the interdisciplinary relationships between music and other performing arts. Lois has nearly 20 years' teaching experience in higher education, including as Deputy and then Head of Undergraduate Programmes at the Royal Northern College of Music. Lois is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and Member of Council of the Royal Musical Association.
Angiolina Foster CBE
Angiolina Foster CBE has been a Board Member of Sistema Scotland since June 2018. She is an experienced public service leader who has worked in Local Government, National Government and the Third Sector, as well as the NHS. Prior to her retirement in 2021 she was Chief Executive of NHS 24. Throughout her career, she has drawn inspiration from the local communities that she has served, as well as from the dedicated colleagues with whom she has worked. This is very much the case in her work with Sistema Scotland also. Angiolina received a CBE in 2011 for her contribution to public services in Scotland.
In addition to her role with Sistema Scotland, Angioina is a Trustee with Playlist for Life, a UK Charity dedicated to the understanding and adoption of the benefits of personally meaningful music for people with dementia.
Catherine Muirden is a People Director who specialises in Business Change. After graduating from Edinburgh University, her management career began at Marks and Spencer, where she held senior HR positions including Group Head of Recruitment. After 6 years as Human Resources Director in the Retail Bank at Barclays, in 2014 she was brought into the Co-operative Group as a leader in the turnaround of the Food business, where she was People Director until her retirement in December 2019. She maintains a keen interest in youth employability, leadership development, and culture change in business.
Catherine is a current board member of Scottish Ballet, a Trustee of the National Galleries of Scotland, a former Chair of The Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh and former non-executive director of the Crieff Hydro Group of Hotels.
Paul Philbert MBE
Born in London, Paul Philbert MBE displayed his musical propensity early in life, studying at the Purcell School of Music, and further, at Trinity College of Music. He then established himself on the professional stage as the founding Principal Timpanist of the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra in 1998. Paul has appeared as a guest performer with many renowned ensembles in the UK and Asia, including the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, the Philharmonia, BBC Symphony, the Hallé, Qatar Philharmonic and Seoul Philharmonic, to name but a few.
In 2015, Paul became the founding Principal Timpanist of the Chineke! Orchestra. He was also appointed Principal Timpanist of the Orchestra of Opera North, a position he held for three years before moving to Scotland where he is now the Principal Timpanist and a Player-Director with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, a Timpani Tutor at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, and continues his role with Chineke!
Following the completion of an apprenticeship in the Borders textile industry, Kenny found his true path into community based youth social work, qualifying as a Social Worker from Moray House College of Education in Edinburgh in 1986. Apart from stints undertaking voluntary work in Ghana and a working as a child protection social worker in London, he has spent his professional career in Scotland as a practitioner, manager and trainer, working to support young people and those who care for them.
As Throughcare & Aftercare Lead at the Centre for Excellence for Children’s Care and Protection, based at the University of Strathclyde since 2012, Kenny has been actively involved in leading on the development and implementation of policy, practice and research into issues impacting on young people transitioning from care to adulthood and interdependence. Kenny provides consultancy, training and expert support to partners and stakeholders at national and local level to deliver improvements in policy and practice Kenny has presented at numerous conferences at home and abroad, along with representing CELCIS on national and international working groups.
An accomplished musician, Kenny believes passionately in the transformative and life-affirming power of music. Kenny spent his formative years playing tenor horn and euphonium in both brass band and orchestra, before moving onto playing electric guitar in various bands and groups in his late-teens and twenties.