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SWA appoints Karen Betts as chief executive

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has named Karen Betts, the former British ambassador to Monaco, as its new chief executive, following the 2016 departure of David Frost.

Karen Betts is the new SWA chief executive

Betts becomes the first woman to lead the SWA, and the eighth person head the association, in its 105-year history.

She joins the SWA following sixteen years with the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO). In addition to her role as the British Ambassador to Monaco, a post she was appointed to in October 2015, she also served as the non-resident ambassador to Mauritania, and was a Counsellor at the British Embassy in Washington.

Prior to serving in Washington, Betts held positions in the UK Cabinet Office as a national security advisor, and as the deputy chief of assessments staff. She has also worked on Middle East security policy, and in the British Embassy in Baghdad.

Before joining the FCO, she worked as a lawyer for Clifford Chance in both London and Hong Kong. She studied a the College of Law in Guildford, and read History at St. Andrews University.

“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, said Betts.

“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.”

Pierre Pringuet, SWA chairman, added: “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.”

Betts takes over from David Frost, who left the SWA in November 2016 for the FCO where he now advises UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson. Julie Hesketh-Laird had been leading the trade association in an interim role.

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