Scotch Whisky Association appoints new chief executive

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) '“ which represents the iconic industry globally '“ has appointed a new chief executive.

Thursday, 2nd March 2017, 12:52 pm
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 11:11 am
Karen Betts

Karen Betts joins the SWA after a 16-year-career in the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), most recently as British Ambassador to Morocco. She becomes only the eighth head, and the first female chief executive, of the SWA in its 105 year history.

During a successful diplomatic career at the FCO, Karen Betts held a variety of posts in London and overseas. These included Counsellor to the British Embassy in Washington, and roles at the UK’s Permanent Representation to the EU in Brussels and the British Embassy in Baghdad.

She has also served in the Cabinet Office and the Joint Intelligence Committee. Prior to joining the FCO, she 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.

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Karen Betts said: “I am thrilled to have been appointed as CEO of the Scotch Whisky Association to represent one of Scotland’s most important industries, at home and overseas. It’s an exciting and challenging time for the Scotch Whisky industry, and I am looking forward immensely to helping ensure its success into the future. I am also delighted to be moving back to Edinburgh with my family.”

Welcoming the appointment, the SWA chairman, Pierre Pringuet, said: “We are delighted that Karen will be joining us and bringing fresh leadership to a talented SWA team as it continues to represent its members’ interests effectively around the world. Her wide international experience will be particularly valuable as we work with government to grow the Scotch Whisky industry globally and make a success of the UK’s exit from the EU.”

Karen Betts takes over as chief executive from David Frost, who stepped down from the role in November 2016 having joined the Association in early 2014.