John Donnelly: We're shaping Edinburgh's future

Edinburgh is one of the greatest cities in the world, and to ensure it can maintain and continue to strengthen its wide appeal as one of the best places in the world to live, work, invest, study and visit, it needs a unifying and strategic focus. To find that focus, Edinburgh needs the support of all its residents.

John Donnelly, Chief Executive Marketing Edinburgh

It was September 2016 that Edinburgh started its 2050 City Vision conversation. From nursery class pupils to pensioners, business leaders to charity workers, over 10,000 people have so far shared their hopes and aspirations for their future city. It’s an ongoing process, and everyone who lives, works and loves this city can participate. It’s a chance for people to have their voices heard and positively influence Edinburgh’s future for generations to come.

Reviewing the feedback gathered to date, the themes emerging are pointing towards an Edinburgh in 2050 that is inspired, connected, fair and thriving. It’s a promising start, imagining a city that puts collaboration, culture and diversity at its core, a city that builds on our Enlightenment past, celebrates entrepreneurship, cherishes our shared open spaces and the free exchange of ideas.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

While not trying to gloss over the very real issues and challenges facing Edinburgh, what does impress most about the public’s input to the City Vision so far is the aspiration and hope in how people talk about the city, their sense of pride. This is a living, breathing city, with a growing population. Over the next 30 years it will be the city we look to for solutions, new ways of living, protecting individuals, communities and ideals.

As Edinburgh’s official promotion agency, it will be Marketing Edinburgh’s responsibility, working alongside City of Edinburgh Council and our partners, to guarantee that the collective vision of Edinburgh as set out by the people who work and live here is realised.

Kick-starting this decades-long journey towards fulfilling the 2050 City Vision will be one of the most important tasks that Marketing Edinburgh undertakes. Each and every campaign delivered on behalf of the capital for the next 30 years will be underpinned and shaped by the results of this current conversation.

While the outcome of this City Vision will not be revealed until toward the end of 2017, preparation is underway to ensure Marketing Edinburgh is fit for purpose and ready for the challenge. Building on the hard work and with the full support of our existing board, Marketing Edinburgh has announced a significant restructure to the governance of the organisation.

Reshaped and reduced in size in order to increase its agility, our new board brings together an impressive group of individuals. Focusing on future direction, the new team has been tasked with shaping the global positioning of Scotland’s capital city.

This month, these four talented non-executives join Marketing Edinburgh, collectively bringing 100 years plus of experience. They are: award-winning marketer from brand owners including Unilever and Asda, Claire Harrison-Church; global marketing and revenue growth specialist Paul Rowllings; head of talent and development Scottish and Southern Energy, Sandra Blake; and Stephen Ingledew, who built his reputation in marketing and customer engagement at Standard Life and Barclays.

Our new board members join existing non-executive director, Dr Gordon Rintoul, Director National Museum of Scotland; three City of Edinburgh councillors, Lord Provost Frank Ross, Jo Mowat and Gordon Munro; Marketing Edinburgh’s Chair Gordon Robertson, Director of Communications at Edinburgh Airport; and myself, as Chief Executive.

It’s a small and extremely effective team. All leaders in their respective fields, members bring the necessary skill-set, knowledge and experience to take the city forward to the next stage in its evolution. Our first task: the creation of a five-year strategy and business plan that will ingrain our future vision in Edinburgh’s global marketing strategy for decades to come.

Knowing we will be elevating the people of Edinburgh’s ambition for their city, projecting that vision across the globe is incredibly exciting. When the final 2050 City Vision is published later this year, Marketing Edinburgh will be ready.

John Donnelly, Chief Executive Marketing Edinburgh,