Paisley-born Kieran is the first to admit that he 'wasn't the most engaged guy in school', but sitting in the back of his dad's car at 14 he thought to himself, 'why not be a little more ambitious?' Today, at just 20 years old, Kieran is the founder and director of Orbit Enterprise, an educational programme providing high quality support for teenagers wanting to get into business for themselves.
Kieran's first entrepreneurial venture began on the school playground, where he would sell virtually anything legal, before he launched a mobile car valeting business at 16 that allowed him to recruit several part-time employees and secure five figure annual profits. A year later, after learning that Scots billionaire Sir Tom Hunter was visiting a factory in Uddingston, Kieran waited for three hours to pitch Orbit to him in the middle of a car park. Since then, Orbit has grown to become a UK-wide social enterprise operating in 30 schools across Glasgow, Edinburgh and Manchester.
In addition to his entrepreneurial feats, Kieran is an award-winning public speaker, having recently been ranked second in Scotland's largest public speaking competition, Toastmasters. He is also a Scottish Young EDGE winner and has been shortlisted for Young Entrepreneur of the Year at the Royal Bank of Scotland's Great British Entrepreneur Awards 2017. When asked for his main advice to ambitious young entrepreneurs, Kieran said: 'You have to think big. Don't let anybody else guide your thoughts. If you think big, you don't know where it will take you.'
Naina is an aspiring bilingual journalist from Glasgow currently studying at Strathclyde University. At just 21 years old, she has embarked on work experience placements with the Guardian, Channel 4, the Huffington Post and STV. As if her CV wasn't impressive enough, two years ago she was selected from a pool of over 2,500 candidates to take part in the BBC's Future Voices Training Scheme, an opportunity that she applied for on a whim, but has since allowed her to work with the Hindi World Service and complete internal placements with Newsnight and the BBC Asian Network.
An avid reader of the Guardian, Naina is committed to keeping quality journalism alive and raising the profile of lesser-known social injustices. As the editor of the Scottish Asian Magazine, she is also passionate about giving a voice to Scotland's Asian communities: 'The magazine initially started as a university project. We had to create a media publication and I noticed that no one north of the border was really targeting the Asian demographic. After some encouragement from my lecturers I decided to go for it and applied for funding. Now there's around 15 of us producing this online publication with new pieces being added every week.'
With a bright future ahead of her, Naina is looking forward to graduating and expanding the magazine. Her advice to anyone considering a career in journalism would be to 'take up every opportunity that you get as it will all help you in the long run, no matter how small or minimal it seems.'
Since leaving secondary school at 17, Kara has worked in a zoo, taught English in China, graduated from law school, moved to India and Ethiopia, returned home, worked in a bar and as a personal assistant, and is now CEO of YWCA Scotland – The Young Women's Movement. Kara initially volunteered with the organisation before joining the leadership team in 2014 and is the youngest director in its 160-year history.
Having struggled with depression, stress and anxiety throughout university, Kara is passionate about empowering young women and advocating for safe platforms to discuss sensitive issues like mental health and gender equality. Before becoming director of YWCA, Kara was chair of the board of directors of DARF (Dignity Alert and Research Forum), a grassroots organisation working to end women's genital mutilation. In 2015, the team secured funding from the Scottish government to pilot new research led by young African women and men in their communities in Scotland.
In 2015 Kara co-created #FeministFest, a project that encourages women's voices through writing, social media and poetry at the Edinburgh Fringe, and in the same year she was selected as one of 11 women from around the world to advise the World YWCA Board of Directors on the process and content used to engage the YWCA movement. When asked what advice she would pass on to her 19-year-old self, Kara said: 'Ignore the voices that say you can't. You can. Your inner voice or people around you may lead you to doubt yourself at times. Don't let doubt derail you; you are much stronger than you think you are.'
Simon is one of the latest recipients of the Scottish Book Trust's New Writers Award, an achievement he still can't get his head around. He has authored three books, appeared in the first issue of 404 Ink, and was selected to read his short story 'Scrapbook' as part of the Edinburgh International Book Festival 2017.
Simon, who works for the Edinburgh city libraries, explains that for him, 'writing started off as a therapeutic thing at first, but it's taken on a life of its own. It's more than a hobby now. I start to feel weird if I go more than a few days without writing.' Unlike his first novel, which he hopes will never see the light of day, Simon is excited about his latest work, a dystopian novel which explores a world in which karma is dispensed by an organisation in the afterlife – only everyone who works there is corrupt and self-serving.
When he's not writing or shelving books at Fountainbridge library, Simon runs creative writing workshops for children and teenagers in the wider community and even dabbles in creating hip hop music. He also delivers the occasional Bookbug session at the library, where the clientele, he says, are much more on his wavelength.
Determined to become a physical education teacher since she was 14, Claire left secondary school at the end of her fifth year to study PE teaching at Edinburgh University. During her studies, she was a member of the university's netball team and competed in the 2014 Commonwealth Games and World Championships. After graduating in 2009, Claire spent two years living in Bath pursuing a career as a netball player, and moved back to Glasgow last year to become the captain of Sirens, Scotland's only professional netball team.
Since their first competitive game in February this year, the Sirens, so named because they are 'dangerous yet beautiful', have achieved a promising debut season under Claire's leadership. She is also captain of the national squad, Scottish Thistles, and was part of the Under 21 coaching team that finished eighth at the World Youth Championships in Botswana this summer.
Claire's main job, however, is the Sirens for Success programme, a series of educational workshops that she delivers in partnership with Glasgow Sport to engage withdrawn and inactive young girls through physical activity. 'The key thing is to get them active,' she explains. 'Sports provide you with so many benefits, not just physical but social too…confidence, leadership, mood, sleep, the list is endless. I feel quite passionate that those who aren't playing sports are missing out on a lot of these opportunities.' Claire hopes that this programme will address some of the barriers to participation that young girls face, including body confidence, health and nutrition and self esteem.
After completing a Masters in Particle Physics at Edinburgh University, Ian turned down an opportunity to complete a PhD at Oxford to work in the gaming industry. After a few years working on some of the biggest video games released in recent years, including 'Grand Theft Auto V' and 'Minecraft: Xbox Edition', he pitched an idea he had for a business to a group of investors. 'They tore me to shreds, but in a good way, they were very constructive…I went back three months later with Cappuccino Ads – that was four and a half years ago – and the business is still going strong.'
Cappuccino Ads is an environmentally and small business friendly Edinburgh-based enterprise that prints commercial messages on biodegradable, double-walled cups and distributes them to independent coffee shops across the UK. In 2014, it was named Best Scottish Company at the Kalixa Pro Spirit of Small Business Awards and was the only Scottish company to make the finals of the New Business of the Year category of the National Business Awards. Ian's entrepreneurial spirit was also recognised when he was presented with a Shell LiveWIRE Grand Ideas award and a Global Summit award, an achievement that sent him to San Francisco to speak at the Global Start-Up Summit in Rocketspace Studios.
Since founding Cappuccino Ads in 2013, Ian has been involved in the development of two other organisations: Adopt an Intern, a not-for-profit company that provides unemployed graduates with fair access to paid internships, and BuilderStorm, a values-led software company operating in the construction industry. He is also an active member of Entrepreneurial Scotland, WeDO Scotland, We Are The Future, Power of Youth and the Royal Society of Edinburgh's Youth Academy of Scotland.
Going into his fifth year of high school, John knew that university wasn't an option. Stonemasonry wasn't a profession that had even occurred to him, but when his dad told him about an apprenticeship with the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) that he'd seen advertised in the local paper, he decided to apply. Now the Trust's head stonemason, John says that applying was the best decision he's ever made.
John is a rare example of a young person doing what is commonly perceived as an older trade. People like him are members of a diminishing profession, but they do invaluable work preserving Scotland's heritage by carrying out conservation masonry repairs on historic buildings. For John, this is the most rewarding aspect of his job: 'Just knowing that the work you're doing is going to be there for generations to come, that's a great feeling and I take a lot of pride in that.'
Based at Culzean Castle, John helps care for one of Scotland's most historic properties and is also responsible for training the new apprentices embarking on their journey with NTS. Witnessing the job satisfaction that these young apprentices take from their work is hugely fulfilling to John, who maintains that his favourite project to date was his first. 'It was nothing intricate or fancy,' he explains, 'but I just remember that feeling of cutting stone and producing something that's getting used, and being part of a team where the work that you were doing was worth something. It's a good feeling.'
As a young girl, Catherine always loved the sea, the ocean and dolphins. Now she wakes up every morning for her dream job as the Scotland conservation officer for the Marine Conservation Society (MCS), a role that combines her passions for working with people and campaigning for environmental awareness.
Since Catherine took on the responsibility of organising the MCS's Great British Beach Clean, a nationwide campaign to reduce litter pollution, the number of individual weekend events in Scotland has increased from 43 to 121, involving more than 1,700 volunteers and 12 MSPs in 2016 alone. The data collected on these beach cleans is shared with the Scottish government and other important stakeholders to provide the evidence needed to effect important change that will end litter pollution. This, for Catherine, is the best part of her job: 'Being able to show people, right down to the individual, that they can make a difference, whether that's by using a reusable bag or coffee cup, or by taking part in one of our beach cleans, is really powerful.'
Catherine delivers workshops in schools to educate children about marine wildlife and how they are negatively impacted by plastic pollution. The MCS has also been running a national social media campaign to highlight the issue of littered drinks containers. This #wildbottlesighting activity was Catherine's idea, and has so far generated more than 6,000 reports of littered bottles in Scotland alone. Catherine hopes that by educating children and adults alike on the value of our seas and beaches we can protect Scotland's natural resources and create a more sustainable future for both ourselves and the wildlife with whom we share our planet.
Despite being told by her secondary school chemistry teacher that she would never amount to anything in science, at just 26 years old Sophie is curator of biomedical science at National Museums Scotland (NMS). 'Looking back,' she says, 'she probably did me a huge favour. Anyone who knows me knows that when you tell me I can't do something, I'm probably four times more likely to do it. It made me work so much harder.'
After graduating from the University of St Andrews in 2013 with a degree in zoology, Sophie completed a two-year graduate development programme with the Wellcome Trust, who funded her position as assistant curator of biomedicine at NMS. Having worked her way up the ladder, Sophie is now a curator and responsible for some of the most popular objects in the NMS collection, including Dolly the Sheep.
With each day bringing new challenges and advances in biomedicine, Sophie says her role has never been more exciting. 'People sometimes think that what I do revolves around the history of biomedical science, but a lot of our acquisitions are very modern. A lot of what I do is asking researchers at universities and hospitals about the coolest things they're working on.' One acquisition that Sophie is particularly enthusiastic about appeared in the office one morning last month: a 3D printed liver. One of the weirder things she's had left on her desk, she notes.
As a young percussionist in a youth orchestra, Ross spent a lot of his rehearsals waiting for his turn to play. Inspired by the way the conductor could command the attention of everyone in the room, Ross would go home and practise with a knitting needle before having his first opportunity to conduct the West of Scotland Schools Symphony Orchestra in a rehearsal at 13 years old. He admits that his legs were shaking the whole time, but since then he's skilfully conducted the Glasgow Orchestral Society, Kelvin Ensemble, Glasgow Schools Symphony Orchestra and Strathclyde University Orchestra – to name a few.
At 17, Ross decided to set up an orchestra for a musical fundraiser. After calling just about everyone he knew, he got 50 people on board and managed to raise £1,600. Encouraged by the success of the event and the response he received from the musicians, Ross founded the Glasgow Philharmonia to give other young people from all over Scotland an opportunity to perform. Five years on, the orchestra is still free to join and Ross has never been paid for his work, but 'seeing what music does to people and what this opportunity can do for someone', he insists, makes it all worthwhile.
Since its inception, the Glasgow Philharmonia has performed at the Commonwealth Games medal unveiling ceremony, a Remembrance Day concert at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall and Children in Need. Ross has high hopes for the future of the orchestra and is committed to ensuring its survival so that it can continue making a difference to both its players and audiences.
Claire is a folk singer/songwriter from Dumfries and winner of BBC Radio Scotland's Young Traditional Musician of the Year 2015. Since winning the award she has performed with the Scottish Symphony Orchestra at BBC Proms in the Park, featured on various radio programmes including BBC Radio Scotland and Radio 2, and released her debut album, 'Between River and Railway', which was nominated for Album of the Year at the Scots Trad Music Awards.
In addition to her career as a solo artist, Claire has also played alongside fellow Young Traditional Musician of the Year Robyn Stapleton as a successful duo and is a member of the four-part ensemble Top Floor Taivers. When she's not performing, Claire leads singing workshops for adults and has worked with the Glasgow Association for Mental Health in the past. She is also involved with the Live Music Now Scotland scheme which provides live music for isolated groups including care homes and schools.
When asked why she decided to start playing folk music as opposed to a more mainstream genre, Claire said: 'I really love being able to sing in my own accent for one. But I've also got a big interest in history and so much of Scottish music is about history and passing on traditions. It really interests me that I can be singing a song that passed through the mouths of people living hundreds of years ago.' At the moment Claire is working on her second album which she hopes to record in April next year. The record will be a mixture of her own material, some traditional songs, and will focus on the theme of journeys and travel.
Leigh-Ann is a breastfeeding support service assistant working in Wishaw General Hospital's neonatal unit to encourage women to breastfeed their premature and unwell babies. In her role she gives emotional and practical support to mothers, organises antenatal talks within the maternity unit, and provides continued support once mothers and babies are discharged.
A mother of two young boys herself, Leigh-Ann is passionate about supporting families during an incredibly vulnerable point in their lives: 'I was a younger mum myself and I can completely understand how important having this support is. I really do feel like this is where I'm meant to be. It can be really hard and emotional sometimes, but I can go home knowing that I've made a real difference to people's lives.'
Since joining the unit two years ago, Leigh-Ann has generated real change. Within Lanarkshire the overall breastfeeding initiation rate is very low at 44%, but within her unit 50% of women express within six hours, and 92% within 24 hours. Last year, Leigh-Ann won the award for Maternity Support Worker of the Year in the Royal College of Midwives' Annual Midwifery Awards and in February this year she travelled to Westminster to give a presentation on her work to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Infant Feeding Inequalities.
As a young girl Christina always knew that she wanted to help others, so for her, becoming a doctor was a vocation. 'Some parts of the job are hard,' she explains, 'but doing something simple like giving someone medicine to take away their pain, reassuring the parents of a sick child, making sure someone is comfortable in their final hours, knowing you are making some sort of difference makes the hard parts worthwhile. Being a doctor is a privilege.'
A lot of people told her that she was jumping in at the deep end by choosing A&E as her first job as a junior doctor, but having spent a summer working in one of America's busiest trauma units as a medical student, Christina is passionate about administering care when it's needed most. The Chicago hospital in which she was working saw up to 10 gunshot wounds every day, and in January of this year, iNews published a paper that Christina wrote on her time working in an ER at the heart of America's gun problem.
Christina also has a keen interest in space medicine. Last summer, she led a research project at the Microgravity Centre in Brazil under the supervision of one of the world's leading space doctors, Thais Russomano. During the study, Christina co-developed the Mackaill-Russomano Method, a proposed technique for performing CPR on the surface of the moon and Mars. She presented her research in May at the Aerospace Medical Association's Scientific Meeting in Denver, and she's also written a paper on the subject which has been submitted for publication in an aerospace medicine journal. Christina says that space medicine is definitely a path she would like to follow in the future, and wouldn't mind becoming the first Scotswoman in space.
After a difficult start in life, Shaun spent some of his formative years under the care of social services. Having expressed an interest in dance, his foster mum persuaded him to audition for the Dance School of Scotland, which he did wearing his football strip. Despite having no formal training, Shaun was accepted into the school and catapulted into a career in ballet.
From there he graduated from the Elmhurst School for Dance in Birmingham and gained a contract with the Croatian National Ballet. At 20, he was picked to dance the prince and spent two years in Croatia before injuring his ankle. 'It was horrible at the time, but it's actually been a blessing because teaching and choreographing is something that I've always been interested in. I've always been conscious of the way my teachers changed my life and now I'm aware of how I can do that. Now I look back and see that I'm fulfilling something by teaching.'
Since returning to Scotland, Shaun has appeared as a guest assessment panelist at the Dance School of Scotland and guest ballet master for national and international ballet companies in Croatia, Serbia, Macedonia and Russia. He has also spent some time in India teaching students from New Delhi and Mumbai. Today, Shaun teaches ballet at Alba Ballet and Elite Academy of Dance, without whom, he maintains, his career would simply not be possible.
Adam has come a long way since his days as a kitchen assistant at his local fish and chips shop. Now head chef and owner of The Tayberry, a fine dining restaurant in Broughty Ferry, Adam has amassed a number of prestigious titles over the years, including Young Scottish Chef of the Year and Young Scottish Seafood Chef of the Year 2013, both of which he won on the same day.
At just 17 years old, Adam moved to Edinburgh from his hometown of Arbroath to pursue a career in the culinary arts. At 23 he became the head chef at Dundee's Castlehill Restaurant after impressing its owner with a home cooked meal. Castlehill became the first independent eatery in Dundee to hold two AA rosettes, and since opening in 2015, The Tayberry has also earned two rosettes.
Adam is working alongside Chefs@School, a government-funded project linking Scottish schools with food industry professionals, to create more inspiring culinary education: 'You don't necessarily need great chefs, just chefs with the basic skills and the right attitude. That all starts with education. It's going to take time and we need more chefs to get involved as well, but we're starting to show these kids skills they don't necessarily get from home economics.' In the meantime, Adam is working hard to secure another rosette for The Tayberry and advance the success of his other catering businesses.
Claire was always interested in Scottish culture, citing Runrig as one of her favourite artists, but it was a brief visit to Scotland for a cattle conference that convinced her to uproot her life as a paralegal in Zurich and opt for a life of agricultural work. For 18 months she carried out placements on farms across Scotland and north Wales, during which time she applied for a course at Scotland's Rural College (SRUC) and met her partner, a tenant hill farmer on Mull, where she has now settled.
Throughout her time at SRUC Claire was top of her class, winning the AgriScot Business Skills Award in 2015 and Agricultural Student of the Year the following year. John Kinnaird, former president of the National Farmers Union, was so impressed with her high performance that he invited Claire to join a group examining the role of the Land Reform Act in delivering a sustainable future to Scotland’s rural community.
Today, Claire is a sought after advisor on a range of issues, from policy implementation to women in agriculture, and has recently started a part-time position as an agricultural consultant working with a range of clients, including the Scottish government. 'Coming from a non-farming background,' she says, 'it's been absolutely amazing to get all of this recognition from the industry.' In spite of this success, she maintains that the best part of her job 'is the diversity of skills and activities that make up your day which add up to a really important goal: feeding the population while preserving Scotland's natural resources.'
Gemma was just 17 years old when she flew to Kenya to volunteer in street rehabilitation centres. During her stay, one of the orphanages was forced to close, rendering children as young as four homeless and forcing some to return to unsafe family environments. When she returned home, Gemma and a group of fellow volunteers took it upon themselves to raise funds to build the St Jerome's Centre, a children's home that has been providing shelter, food and education to disadvantaged Kenyan children since 2012.
A few months after opening the centre, however, Gemma and the children were forced to flee when a group of armed robbers broke in during the night. Undeterred, Gemma and the volunteers launched a second campaign to raise funds to buy a new piece of land in a safer area and relocated the centre in 2015. With bigger facilities and more sponsorship, today the St Jerome's Centre employs nine local people and homes 33 children, but has a waiting list of over 100 names.
Having returned to Scotland to gain her degree in occupational therapy, Gemma now works for a youth-based charity on South Uist aiming to tackle loneliness and social isolation for anybody aged 16 and over. Despite living over 7,000 miles away, Gemma is still the managing director of St Jerome's and has big ambitions for its future: 'Right now our priority is the care of those 33 children…but we're hoping to build a half-way house where the teenagers leaving us can learn to be more independent. We're also hoping to recruit people to deal with kids coming from the streets because the issues that they've been exposed to require a different level of care.'
Tom moved to Scotland from the North East of England when he was 18 to study art and design at Dundee University before pursuing a degree in Fine Art. Graduating from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art in Dundee last year, Tom was awarded the Scottish Society of Artists Graduate Award for his piece 'Dibnah', a wooden wood-burning stove named after the steeplejack and television personality Fred Dibnah. He was subsequently awarded the SSA Exhibition Award at the Society's last annual exhibition in Edinburgh.
For his next piece, which is to be exhibited at the National Galleries in February next year, Tom is planning on building another larger scale sculpture and installation based on the conflict between natural capital and consumer culture. 'Living up in the Highlands,' he says, 'I want my piece to touch upon the Clearances, which had such a detrimental impact on local Highland culture and how we can relate to this in a contemporary society.'
Taking a step back from the commotion of urban life, Tom is currently working as a kitchen gardener in a hotel in Wester Ross and is using his time there to influence his art. He would like to combine both practices to explore landscape as well as environmental art and highlight the vast wealth of beauty we have on our doorstep.
After spending four years studying English literature and language at Glasgow University, Helen has returned home to her family farm in Pitlochry to launch her own micro-distillery. Having worked in distilleries for the last three years, Helen decided she wanted to launch her own business two years ago after falling in love with an industry she calls both creative and innovative.
Naming her creation after the area of land between the family home in Knockbarry and the site of the distillery at Dalnagarn, Badvo Gin is made from botanicals which are 100% sourced from her farm. Not content with being Scotland's youngest distiller, Helen has also assumed control of the product's branding, having designed the gin's heron logo at home on her computer. 'I wanted something classic, minimalist and gender neutral. I didn't want any cheesy imagery and the heron taps into the fact that we use our own fresh water supply. I could have used a sheep but I thought that that was too on the nose for a sheep farmer.'
The distillery might not be set to open until December but Helen has already picked up a Young EDGE Award and been nominated for a Business Women Scotland Award for best use of social media. Determined to succeed, Helen has been involved in every aspect of the distilling process and the branding, and has even participated in the construction of the distillery itself: 'There was this wall that needed taking down that was delaying all the other work. One day I just took a hammer and, well, now the wall is gone. Now I really feel like it's mine.'
Timea began creating games on her home computer when she was 11 years old. Realising that there were no universities in Hungary teaching anything to do with gaming, she left home at 16 to complete her last two years of high school in Ireland and increase her chances of being accepted into a UK/Irish university. Shortly after graduating from Abertay with a first-class degree in 2013, she landed a job with one of the biggest game developers in the world.
When she's not working on the most successful and industry-leading games, Timea serves as the chair of the Scottish chapter of the International Game Developers Association and is a mentor with CoderDojo, a global movement providing free coding clubs for young people. A passionate advocate of diversity in the industry, she is also a Women in Games and STEM ambassador, a role which she hopes will help eradicate what she sees as an endemic issue in today’s society: 'It's not just a games problem, it's a whole societal problem. Generally speaking we lack diversity in a lot of industries, but diversity enriches our businesses; it will harm your business if it’s made up of homogenous people.'
At just 26, Timea has been named one of the Leading Women in Scotland by EQUATE Scotland, featured in YWCA's 30 Under 30, and is one of MCV's top 100 Women in Games. Voices like hers are paving the way for a more inclusive and progressive gaming community, a goal that will ideally manifest into wider society.