Alasdair Smith, the new chief executive officer of Scottish Bakers, on his previous experience and his ambitions for the role

It is my great privilege and honour to have been appointed chief executive of Scottish Bakers and National Food and Drink Training.

I took something of a risk at my final interview at Bakers House, showing up with a Tupperware container of handmade Portuguese custard tarts to share with the panel; I’m told they went down well.

I am steeped in Scotland’s education, training and lifelong learning sector. In a career stretching back more than 20 years, I was most recently Scotland director of Creative Skillset (the sector skills council for the creative industries), playing a key role in campaigning for, and securing investment in, improved skills in Scotland’s creative industries.

I also have a wealth of experience in bringing industry together in partnership with Further and Higher Education Institutions in Scotland, as well as having established links with all the key public agencies.

I’m no sheltered academic, though, and I’m keen to understand this wonderful industry you all love and respect.

So I’ll be taking every opportunity to experience what it’s like on shop floors, to understand the professional skills that bring such great produce to consumers, and to listen to what our members have to say about the future.

I am committed to ensuring Scottish Bakers continues to represent and promote the interests of the bakery trade in Scotland; provides a range of specialist support services for bakers of all sizes; and offers a valuable source of advice, information, assistance and skills development for bakers throughout Scotland and beyond. This is especially important as we negotiate our way through the inevitable Brexit turbulence and plan for growth across the sector. 

With so much interest in bakery right now, fuelled by baking, patisserie and cooking programmes, more people are reaching into the store cupboard for their bags of flour. That generates demand for finished products and specialist ingredients, which in turn fuels growth and more opportunities to invest in and support the next generation of skilled young bakers.

Scottish Bakers will continue to be at the heart of this agenda as the authoritative voice of the bakery trade in Scotland. But it is your organisation and, as its custodian, it’s important for me to listen to views from all members, partners and stakeholders. In that respect, my door is always open.