Most recently, Kent served as ambassador to Argentina from 2016 to June 2021. He also served as the ambassador to Thailand, ambassador to Vietnam, as well as roles at British Embassies in Mexico City, Brasilia and the UK Representation to the European Union.
He becomes the ninth chief executive in the SWA’s 110-year history.
Kent will take up the position in January, taking over from Betts, who leaves next month to take over as chief executive at the Food and Drink Federation.
Scott McCroskie, chairman of the SWA Council, said: “Mark brings with him an outstanding depth of experience which will allow the SWA to continue to support the industry’s interests around the world.
“We look forward to working with him as the industry looks to make new ground in key growth markets and build a sustainable future for the industry by continuing our push towards net-zero.”
Kent added: “After a challenging period, I’m looking forward to helping the industry to unleash its full potential and enable people across the globe to discover and enjoy our premium and iconic product. The Scotch whisky industry has a fantastic history, great stories to tell and continues to innovate. I can’t wait to get started.”
Kent has a postgraduate qualification in business administration from the Open University.