Whilst I’m not sure we Scots can lay claim to having invented whisky we can certainly claim to have perfected it. So it was with great interest that I learned about an African whisky recently. More interestingly for me is how this whisky was marketed and the social and demographic position whisky has in South Africa.

I was attending the European conference of Taan Worldwide http://taan.org/ and although it was mainly European delegates present there were also agencies from California, Boston, Chicago, Canada, Singapore, Dubai and Cape Town. Understanding what goes on outside our little corner of the world is important, not just from a cultural perspective but also in terms of teaching us about trends, innovations, technologies and creativity. We heard from a number of speakers, each one a specialist in their own area. The speakers are always valuable however the real value is to be found in the other delegates. Each one runs a similar business and each one has a different perspective on a challenge or a problem or an opportunity. What’s wonderful is the willingness with which they’ll lend you their perspective. On a number of occasions fellow delegates sought me out to share an experience they’d had that could be of assistance to me. That takes place during coffee breaks, over lunch or dinner or even at midnight over a nightcap. That’s a value that’s impossible to quantify.

We heard from an Italian procurement specialist who is now based in Switzerland, a multi-lingual cross cultural risk management specialist who is quarter Russian, Polish, Ukrainian and Romanian and possessed an astonishing understanding of global events and cultural differences and also from a speaker specializing in SEO and analytical reporting who was originally from Stonehaven.

It’s reassuring to know that even if Africans are perfecting whisky that Scots can still make a contribution on the global stage.