Karen Betts leaves SWA for FDF

Karen Betts, the CEO of SWA, will leave The Scotch Whisky Association at the end of the 2021 to direct the Food and Drink Federation.

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) is a trade organisation that represents the Scotch whisky industry, which is an important part of the Scottish economy, particularly the Scottish export market.

Karen Betts was appointed as CEO of the SWA in May 2017, after a 16-year career in the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. Prior to joining the FCO, Karen Betts worked as a lawyer for Clifford Chance in London and Hong Kong.  She studied law at the College of Law in Guildford and history at St. Andrews University. She was the first woman to head the SWA and the eighth person to head the association in the organization's 105 years history.

SWA chairman and chief executive of Edrington Scott McCroskie said: “After more than four years in post, Karen will leave the association with our heartfelt gratitude. She has steered the industry successfully through a turbulent period, critically while punitive tariffs were imposed on Scotch whisky by the United States, through the UK’s departure from the EU, and during the Covid-19 pandemic. Her leadership has helped the industry emerge in a strong and forward-looking position. Karen and her team have also positioned the industry to take advantage of the opportunities that lie ahead. Her focus on increasing diversity in our workforce, achieving our net-zero emissions target and growing trade in key global markets will help to secure the industry’s success in years to come.”

Betts will take over the chief executive of UK membership organisation from Ian Wright, who will leave after 7 years in the role.

Ms Betts said that she is delighted to have been appointed as the Food and Drink Federation’s new chief executive and to represent the huge range of companies that keep food on our tables and make up UK’s largest manufacturing industry.

“These are rapidly changing times, with challenges and opportunities for the industry to grasp in everything from addressing climate change, to skills and livelihoods, and healthy diets. I am looking forward to working with the FDF’s members, the FDF team, with government and other organisations as we find the best answers to these questions for all involved.”

We congratulate and wish Ms Betts good luck in her new position. Thank you for your many years of commitment to the Scotch whisky industry.

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