The trade body representing Scotch whisky globally, Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), has announced that it has got its new CEO onboard – Karen Betts. Betts’ career has extensively spanned over her stint at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) where she held various diplomatic positions for 16 years. Her most recent engagement was as a British Ambassador to Morocco in which she was stationed in the city of Rabat.
44-year old Betts now has the distinction of being the first female CEO of SWA since its inception 105 years ago. Among the different positions she served at FCO, the prominent ones include services in Washington as British Embassy’s Counsellor and as a Permanent Representation of UK in Baghdad and Brussels to the British Embassy and EU respectively. Before her FCO tenure, Betts worked as a lawyer in Hong Kong and London representing Clifford Chance. She is a law graduate from Guildford’s College of Law, and a St. Andrews University alumnus in history.
Expressing her delight over her opportunity at SWA, 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."
Pierre Pringuet, Chairman, SWA, gratified the onboarding of Betts, and stated, "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.”
Betts replaces David Frost who held the CEO position till he decided to exit SWA in November 2016. She is due to take over the reins this year in May.
This appointment comes at a time when the SWA is in a legal battle with the Scottish government over the pricing control of alcohol following the Brexit episode in June last year. According to SWA, almost £5 billion is contributed to the UK economy through the whiskey industry.