Owen Kelly Headshot

Director of Engagement

+44 (0)131 651 1043

Roles and Responsibilities

Developing relationships and collaborations with business practitioners and policymakers, to support teaching and research.


Owen Kelly has extensive experience of working in government and in the private sector. From 2008 to 2016 he was Chief Executive of Scottish Financial Enterprise, the representative body for Scotland's financial services industry. He has contributed regularly to public debate on many aspects of economics and politics.

Before that, he worked for 20 years as a civil servant in the UK and Scottish Governments. When he left in 2008, he was Director of Communications and International at the Scottish Government. He served as Principal Private Secretary to the First Minister of Scotland and as Private Secretary to a UK government Minister. His policy specialisms were EU and international affairs and communications.

He holds an honours degree in Chinese (1986) and a Diploma in Social and Public Policy (1998), both from the University of Edinburgh. He also holds a Diploma in Chinese Language from the University of Shandong.

He is a Doctoral Researcher in the Department of Philosophy, also at Edinburgh University, examining how ancient ethical ideas can be applied to modern business practice. He has written a number of commentaries on referenda and their effects on business, and on the impact of the UK's departure from the European Union on financial services.

He is Chair of the Trustees of the Historic Scotland Foundation, and a trustee of the McConnell International Foundation. He was a trustee of the David Hume Institute from 2013 to 2019.

He is an Honorary Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Bankers.

Research Interests

The ethics of corporate decision-making; justice in the Boardroom; geopolitics and business; Brexit; financial services.

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