Steering Committee

The Steering Committee was set up to act as the Governance of the Aurora Forum.  As we move forward and into the future, it is the aim of the Steering Committee to see the Aurora Forum grow into one of the key symposiums between the United Kingdom, the Nordic and Baltic countries.

RT HON SIR DAVID LIDINGTON

             Co-Chairman

David Lidington is the UK Chairman of the Aurora Forum. David represented Aylesbury in the House of Commons from 1992 to 2019. He served as Minister for Europe throughout the coalition government and David Cameron’s Conservative government (2010-2016), the UK’s longest-serving holder of that post, holding responsibility for the UK’s relations with more than 50 countries in Europe and Central Asia. David has represented the UK at the EU, NATO, OSCE, Council of Europe and the UN Security Council.  

As Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster he served as deputy to Prime Minister Theresa May from January 2018 to July 2019, having previously served in the May governments as Leader of the House of Commons and as Justice Secretary.

David is chair of the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), a trustee of the Institute for Government and a member of the Advisory Council of the Centre for European Reform.

MR CARL BILDT

                    Co-Chairman

Carl Bildt is the Nordic & Baltic Chairman of the Aurora Forum. Carl is Co-Chair of the European Council on Foreign Relations, contributing columnist to Washington Post as well as columnist for Project Syndicate.

He serves as Senior Advisor to the Wallenberg Foundations in Sweden and is on the Board of Trustees of the RAND Corporation in the US. 

He has served as both Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden. Subsequently he served in international functions with the EU and UN, primarily related to the conflicts in the Balkans. He was Co-Chairman of the Dayton peace talks on Bosnia and become the first

MR MATTHEW KIRK

Matthew Kirk was the inaugural Chairman of the Aurora Forum on the UK side.

Matthew has been International Affairs Advisor at the law firm Squire Patton Boggs since 2018, providing advice on geo-political risk, and data, artificial intelligence and cyber developments. 

Prior to that, he spent more than a decade at Vodafone Group, and as a member of the Group Executive Committee led Vodafone’s external affairs globally.  Before Vodafone, he was a British diplomat, and served as HM Ambassador to Finland from 2002-2006. 

Matthew Kirk has also supported various academic institutions, including the Advisory Boards of Bath University School of Management and Royal Holloway College CyberSecurity Institute, and as Chairman of the Governors of Downe House School.  He is a member of the Königswinter Council.

MS Elisabeth braw

Elisabeth is a Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, focusing on how liberal democracies can better protect themselves against new national security threats.

She previously led RUSI’s Modern Deterrence project, which likewise focused on how governments, business and civil society can work together to strengthen countries’ defence against such threats. 

Prior to RUSI, she worked at Control Risks following a career as a journalist where she reported from the United States, Germany, Italy and other countries. She is a columnist for Foreign Policy and contributes to the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, the Times and (writing in German) the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

Elisabeth has also been a Visiting Fellow at Oxford. A native of Sweden, she attended university in Germany.

She speaks German, Swedish and English as well as conversational Italian.

Elisabeth is the author of God’s Spies, about the state, church and spycraft in East Germany. She is also a member of the National Preparedness Commission (UK) and hosts the On the Cusp podcast.

sir roger gifford

Roger Gifford is a Senior Banker at SEB in London. He began his career in the financial sector at S.G. Warburg & Co, joining SEB in 1982. Prior to his appointment as UK Country Head (2000 – 2016) Roger headed the bank’s operations in Japan for six years. 

Roger is Vice Chair and past Chair of the Association of Foreign Banks (AFB) in London and Chair of the Advisory Board of the International Business and Diplomatic Exchange (IBDE). He is also Chair of the UK Green Finance Institute, launched in 2019.  Roger was Lord Mayor of London in 2013.

MR Magnus Schöldtz

Magnus is Senior Advisor at the Wallenberg Foundations AB, and a former Ambassador at the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs. He has served in various diplomatic functions in relation to EU and NATO and the Middle East.

Ambassador Schöldtz also held positions within United Nations in Lebanon and Somalia, and the Swedish Armed Forces Headquarters.

He is Senior Advisor to Mr. Jacob Wallenberg, Chairman of Investor AB; Mr. Marcus Wallenberg, Chairman of SEB, Saab AB, and FAM and to Mr. Peter Wallenberg Jr. the Chairman of Wallenberg Foundations AB, as well as to several companies in the Wallenberg sphere.

He is associated with the Brookings Institution International Advisory Council, and a Member of the Trilateral Commission European Executive Board.

Magnus Schöldtz is a Stanford Executive Program Alumni (2015), a graduate of Lund University in Philosophy, History, Political Science, Economics and Oriental Studies, and a Reserve Officer (Captain) in the Swedish Army.

sir john grant

John Grant is a former British diplomat (1976 – 2007). His final postings were as Ambassador to Sweden (1999 – 2003) and as Permanent Representative to the EU (2003 -2007) when, in 2005, he chaired the Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER) during what was the last UK Presidency of the EU.    

He left the Diplomatic Service in 2007 and worked successively for BHP Billiton (2007 – 2008), the world’s largest mining company;

BG Group (2009 – 2015), a British oil and gas company, where he was a member of the Executive Committee; and Anadarko Petroleum Corporation (2015 – 2019).

MR claus grube

A Danish Diplomat, Claus has been in the forefront of EU-policy making for the past 30 years. As a Senior Diplomat Claus has been involved in the creation of the Single Market, the enlargement of the EU in 2004, the creation of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), EU’s reconstruction of the Balkans, as well as the negotiations of EU’s Maastricht, Amsterdam and Lisbon Treaties. 

During his career Claus has held various senior foreign affairs roles in the Danish Government. He also presided over the Ambassadors Group COREPER during the Danish Presidency of the EU in 2002 and was closely involved in the handling of the Financial crisis in 2008-2009 and the Lisbon Treaty negotiations.

His last diplomatic posting was as Denmark’s Ambassador to the UK.

After 45 years in the public sector, Claus is currently Senior Advisor to Flint Global Ltd and Seafarms Group Holding Ltd. He is also Senior Fellow at Axcel Future, Copenhagen and is an independent advisor to the Danish Parliament’s Committee for European Affairs. 

In 2017 Claus was appointed Chamberlain to the Court of Her Majesty the Queen of Denmark and honoured as Freeman of the City of London.

MS STephanie ashton

Stephanie is the founder and Executive Director of the Aurora Forum.

She is also the Managing Partner of Ashton Munro Consultancy, a company she co-founded with her sister Claudia Munro Kerr in 2005. 

Stephanie brings many years expertise in establishing and managing high-level bilateral conferences between the UK and other countries (including Germany, Spain, Turkey, Brazil and Italy).  She is also the Executive Director of both the British-German Königswinter and the British-Spanish Tertulias.

Separately, Stephanie is an Associate Director of Brennan & Partners.

MR andrew walton

Andrew has worked for Saab, a full spectrum defence and security company, since 2013, as the company has expanded its presence and operations in the UK.  He is currently leading Saab’s UK Group Strategy, responsible for growing the company’s presence and position in the UK to become a major contributor to British defence capability as well as a significant defence exporter from the UK.  He is a Board member of Saab Technologies UK Ltd.  Previously, he was Head of Strategic Marketing for Saab in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. 

Separately, he worked for one of the Big 4 professional services firms in London, in corporate finance and consulting, before moving to Saab on a full time basis. 

He sits on the Aurora Forum Steering Committee, a forum bringing together leading politicians, officials, industrialists and academics from the UK and the Nordic & Baltic countries to consider current and enduring geopolitical issues.

In an earlier career, he served in the Royal Air Force as a fighter pilot, rising to 2* level with operational, command, management and budgetary responsibilities in the UK and abroad.

MR IDAR KREUTZER

 Idar is CEO of Finans Norge. He was CEO of Storebrand from 2000 to 2012. Kreutzer has held a number of different board positions, and is currently chairman of the board of Aschehoug Forlag and board member at the University of Oslo. He is a member of the Norwegian Business School’s Advisory Board. In October 2018, Kreutzer submitted his report on access to risk capital in the Nordic region, on behalf of the Nordic Council of Ministers. From June 2015 to October 2016, he chaired the Government’s expert committee on green competitiveness, and he is a member of the Climate and Environment Minister’s Climate Council.