Owen Kelly Headshot

Director of Engagement and Internationalization

+44 (0)131 651 1043

Roles and Responsibilities

Developing relationships and collaborations with business practitioners and policymakers; supporting and enhancing the international aspects of the School's work.


Owen Kelly holds degrees in Chinese, Social Policy and Philosophy, all from the University of Edinburgh. He also holds a Diploma in Chinese Language from the University of Shandong, and he is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Before joining the University of Edinburgh Business School in 2016, we worked 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 gained his Ph.D in 2022, in Ancient Philosophy, at the University of Edinburgh. The title of his thesis is "Justice as a point of equipoise: an Aristotelian approach to contemporary corporate ethics", in which he claims that the ancient Greek conception of justice, as reflected in the philosophy of Aristotle, provides a philosophically defensible basis for ethical deliberation in contemporary companies and corporations; and makes pragmatic suggestions for putting the idea into practice . He has also written a number of commentaries on political divisions 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 and he was awarded an OBE in 2017.

Research Interests

The ethics of corporate decision-making; justice as a basis for corporate ethics; geopolitics and business; Brexit; financial services; philosophy, especially ancient philosophy, and business.

Research Fingerprint

View Owen’s Research Fingerprint

Works Within