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HIE graduate is ‘Scotland Young Thinker of the Year’

Rebecca MacDonald (24), who is on graduate placement with HIE in Inverness, won recognition as Scotland’s ‘Young Thinker of the Year’ for a ‘mind-changing’ paper and presentation inspired by a visit to North Korea.

The Young Scotland Programme aims to develop the communication skills of people in the early stages of their careers. It also encourages them to broaden their horizons by thinking and talking freely and openly about the big issues the world is facing.

In preparing the required 900-word paper and presentation to fellow delegates on a ‘hot or controversial topic’, Rebecca drew inspiration from a trip she took to North Korea in 2016.

The paper focused on the ineffectiveness of sanctions placed on North Korea and argued that it would be much more effective and fair to engage in dialogue with the isolated nation.

Scottish Review editors, Kenneth Roy and Islay McLeod, were among the judging panel of experienced journalists, and looked for persuasive argument and a lively presentation style.

They described Rebecca’s paper as ‘A superb, even mind-changing paper on North Korea: richly informative, impeccably researched, using excellent references, current and historical, to illuminate the nature of the regime, the futility of the sanctions policy, and the need for dialogue. Well-structured and well-written as well as soundly and persuasively argued. And Rebecca’s handling of the questions was exemplary: her answers did that rare thing – they added to the public knowledge. Confidently delivered, this was a presentation of quite exceptional authority and maturity.’

Reflecting on her success, Rebecca who lives in Inverness, said:

“I would encourage any person in the early stages of their career to consider applying to the Young Scotland Programme. I found it a thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding experience. It was particularly refreshing to be discussing important societal topics in such an open and engaging environment and away from the bubbles of social media.”

Her fellow HIE employee, Bethany Ansell, was highly commended in the awards for 'an original, wide-ranging, beautifully crafted' piece examining English identity. And Cairngorm National Park Authority graduate, Katie Crerar, was runner up for a 'deeply felt paper on the illegal trade in ivory. 

In the past five years HIE has sponsored 15 talented individuals in the early stages of their careers to take part in the Programme. They have included last year’s winner Catriona Mallows and runner up Eilidh Todd.

Karen Moncrieff, head of HR at HIE, said: “We are very fortunate to welcome many talented young employees, Modern Apprenticies and graduates on placement with us over the years. Their creativity and confidence brings fresh thinking and new energy to many aspects of our work; something we will no doubt hear more of during the 2018 Year of Young People.

“The Young Scotland Programme presents an opportunity for participants to share their thoughts and experiences and gain extra confidence in the early stages of their careers. We have been very impressed with the high standard of participation from all the employees we have supported to attend the programme over the years over the years, and we’re absolutely delighted for Rebecca on her well-deserved triumph.”

You can read Rebecca’s paper on the Scottish Review.

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