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Holyrood's top 25 women in the public sector

Holyrood's top 25 women in the public sector

Scotland’s permanent secretary, Leslie Evans, recalls her career progression by telling a story about how she was encouraged to improve relations between a certain female government minister and civil servants by discussing lipstick.

It seems laughable now that any employer would have the temerity to try and broker good relations in the workplace by falling into clichés and stereotypes about what women might want to discuss, but that anecdote from our top mandarin wasn’t from the Dark Ages, it was from the year 2000.

With a woman at the top of the civil service in Scotland along with a female first minister and three women party leaders in the Scottish Parliament it is sometimes easy to forget that it hasn’t always been this way.

But the truth is there is still a very long way to go for women to have true parity in the workplace with men, which is why legally enforced quotas on public sector boards will be a step in the right direction.

And it is why Holyrood magazine is using this issue to celebrate 25 women of influence in the public sector who have broken through the glass ceiling by sheer strength of personality, ability and hard work. They are an inspiration.

This is just a small, and by no means comprehensive, selection of the women who have been at the forefront of the march towards equality in Scotland, but they have been the pioneers for us all and they are the role models for the future. 

Sheenagh Adams, Keeper of the Records and Chief Executive, Registers of Scotland

Appointed as the managing director of Records of Scotland in April 2006, Sheenagh Adams took over as keeper in 2009.

She is responsible for leading and managing the organisation and has 17 public registers under her control, including both the sasine and land registers. Her role also makes her the deputy keeper of the Great Seal of Scotland.

She has over 20 years’ experience in the civil service and 11 years in local government.

Rosemary Agnew, Scottish Information Commissioner

Rosemary Agnew was appointed as the Scottish Information Commissioner in May 2012 for a six-year fixed term.

She is responsible for the enforcement and promotion of Scotland’s freedom of information laws. Her previous roles include chief executive of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission and assistant ombudsman at the Local Government Ombudsman.

Janet Archer

Chief Executive, Creative Scotland

Janet Archer took up her post at Creative Scotland in July 2013, during which time she has produced ‘Unlocking Potential, Embracing Ambition’, a long-term plan for the arts, screen and creative industries in Scotland.

Archer is also tasked with implementing a new people strategy for the organisation. Before working at Creative Scotland, she was director of dance at Arts Council England.

Professor Alice Brown CBE, Chair, Scottish Funding Council

Emeritus Professor of Politics at the University of Edinburgh, Alice Brown was appointed chair of the Scottish Funding Council in October 2013.

Brown has published widely on economic and labour market policy, equal opportunities, women and politics, Scottish politics, constitutional change and administrative justice.

She was the first Scottish public services ombudsman and was elected general secretary of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2011 before standing down to take over as chair of the Scottish Funding Council.

Dr Catherine Calderwood, Chief Medical Officer

Dr Catherine Calderwood was appointed Chief Medical Officer in March 2015.

With a career as an obstetrician and gynaecologist, she became a medical adviser to the Scottish Government in 2010 where she was considered instrumental in helping reduce stillbirths and neonatal deaths in Scotland.

She continues to have a maternal medicine antenatal clinic at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.

Alison Di Rollo, Solicitor General for Scotland

As Solicitor General for Scotland, Alison Di Rollo is one of the two law officers of the Scottish Government. She first joined the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service in 1985.

Prior to becoming solicitor general, Di Rollo led the National Sexual Crimes Unit for three years.

Appointing Di Rollo, the First Minister praised her work at the NSCU, saying: “Her outstanding leadership in this most sensitive of areas has inspired confidence in all connected to it.”

Leslie Evans, Permanent Secretary, Scottish Government

Leslie Evans is the most senior civil servant in Scotland. Evans took up the post of permanent secretary to the Scottish Government in July 2015, the first woman to hold this role.

She is the principal policy adviser to the First Minister and secretary to the Scottish cabinet. She is also the principal accountable officer for the Scottish Government, with a personal responsibility for the Scottish Government’s finance and for efficient use of resources.

Her role involves leading more than 5,000 civil servants who work for the Scottish Government and supporting the development, implementation and communication of Scottish Government policies.

Prior to becoming the permanent secretary, Evans was the director general for learning and justice in the Scottish Government.

She joined the Scottish Government in 2000, where she has also been head of the Local Government Constitution and Governance Division, head of the Public Service Reform Group, head of tourism, culture and sport, and director of culture, external affairs and tourism.

Before joining the civil service, Evans worked in local government for 20 years, for City of Edinburgh Council, Stirling Council, the London Borough of Greenwich and Sheffield City Council.

Rose Fitzpatrick QPM, Deputy Chief Constable – Local Policing

Rose Fitzpatrick has been responsible for local policing across Scotland since being appointed in 2012. Prior to her current role she was deputy assistant commissioner.

She was appointed commander in the Metropolitan Police Service in 2002, where she led in developing policy on police reform.

Sarah Davidson, Director General Communities, Scottish Government

Appointed Director General Communities in May 2014, Sarah Davidson is one of six director generals who sit on the management board of the Scottish Government.

Originally from Edinburgh, Davidson studied history at Oxford University

She joined the Scotland Office in 1995 before being seconded to Scotland during the first years of the Scottish Parliament from 1999 until 2004, where she was director of the Holyrood Building Project team.

Davidson then took a career break and went travelling around the world. When she returned, it was to work for the then Scottish Executive.

Her recent roles have included Scottish Government director of communications, director for local government and communities and acting director of human resources and organisational development.

Previous experience includes head of cabinet secretariat, ministerial private secretary and a four-year secondment to the Scottish Parliament where she established the public audit and finance committees.

With over twenty years of experience working in the machinery of government, Davidson has followed Scottish devolution from the start.

Caroline Gardner, Auditor General for Scotland

Auditor General Caroline Gardner is already one of the most prominent women in the public sector in Scotland, with an official job brief to “ensure that public money is spent properly, efficiently and effectively”.

Gardner’s role has seen her take the bosses of public bodies to task, including the NHS, about the way services have been delivered and if there have been any failings or errors in spending decisions.

Gardner has been the public face of taxpayer spending watchdog Audit Scotland since July 2012, when she took up her post. She is called regularly to give evidence at Scottish parliamentary committee probes into controversial decisions.

As the Scottish Parliament takes on greater responsibility for raising the bulk of the tax it spends, Gardner is likely to play an even more prominent role given that she holds what is arguably the highest profile accountancy role in public life in Scotland.

With more than 30 years’ experience in audit, governance and financial management, she is already widely viewed as one of the safest pair of hands when it comes to examining public spending decisions.

Gardner, who is an elected fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, is famed for a calm demeanour when facing MSPs during Holyrood committee grillings. However, that may be tested when decisions are scrutinised about the way public money is spent when more tax powers arrive.

Angiolina Foster, Chief Executive, Healthcare Improvement Scotland and Acting Chief Executive, NHS 24

Angiolina Foster was appointed as chief executive of Health Improvement Scotland in April 2014, taking on the extra role of acting chief executive of NHS 24 in March this year.

She has also served as director of health and social care integration at the Scottish Government and chief executive of Communities Scotland.

Kate Frame, Police Investigations and Review Commissioner for Scotland

Kate Frame is the Police Investigations & Review Commissioner for Scotland, a role she has held since August 2014.

A solicitor by profession, she joined the organisation from the Crown Office, where she was head of the Criminal Allegations Against the Police Division.

Frame joined the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, after qualifying as a solicitor. She has an established reputation as an experienced prosecutor who has appeared in summary and solemn courts throughout Scotland.

Dame Anne Glover, Vice-Principal External Affairs and Dean for Europe, Aberdeen University

Dame Anne Glover is a former chief scientific adviser to the Scottish Government and to the president of the European Commission.

From 2006 to 2011 she was the chief scientific adviser for Scotland. She served the European Commission from 2012 to 2014 under the presidency of Jose Manuel Barroso.

Currently the Vice-Principal External Affairs and Dean for Europe at the University of Aberdeen, Glover was awarded a CBE in 2009 and a DBE in 2015.

Professor Louise Heathwaite, Chief Scientific Adviser for Rural Affairs and Environment, Scottish Government

Professor Louise Heathwaite has been Scotland’s chief scientific adviser for rural affairs and environment since September 2012.

She is also Professor of Land and Water Science and co-director of the Centre for Sustainable Water Management in the Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University.

Heathwaite has over 25 years research experience in diffuse nutrient pollution, wetland hydrochemistry and water quality and has published over 150 papers in international journals.

Caroline Lamb, Chief Executive, NHS Education for Scotland

Caroline Lamb is the chief executive of NHS Education for Scotland (NES), a post she was appointed to in October 2015.

A qualified chartered accountant, Lamb joined NES in 2004 as director of finance and corporate resources. She was then deputy chief executive before being appointed as CEO in October 2015.

Lamb is also a trustee of the Circle charity, which works with families affected by parental substance abuse and imprisonment.

Elaine Lorimer, Chief Executive, Revenue Scotland

Elaine Lorimer has been chief executive of Revenue Scotland since March 2016.

Revenue Scotland was launched in 2012 with responsibility for the administration and collection of Scotland’s devolved taxes.

Lorimer was previously head of the Law Commission of England and Wales. She is a Scottish solicitor and public finance accountant, and her career has focused on the public service where she has held a number of senior leadership positions.

Sally Loudon, Chief Executive, COSLA

Sally Loudon became head of Scottish local government body the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) at the start of 2016, replacing the previous incumbent, Rory Mair, who retired.

Loudon previously ran Argyll and Bute Council for seven-and-a-half years. Loudon was also head of performance and HR at Midlothian Council from January 2000 to August 2008.

Karyn McCluskey, Director, Scottish Violence Reduction Unit

Karyn McCluskey is the director of the Violence Reduction Unit, which is funded by the Scottish Government.

She previously co-wrote a report on violence reduction for Strathclyde Police proposing a different way of addressing violence in Scotland. Based on its proposals, the Violence Reduction Unit was set up.

She has 20 years’ experience working with police forces around the UK, including Strathclyde Police, which later became part of Police Scotland.

Professor Fiona McQueen, Chief Nursing Officer, Scottish Government

Professor Fiona McQueen was appointed Chief Nursing Officer in March 2015, following a period as interim CNO. Her role involves leadership of the nursing, midwifery, allied health and healthcare science workforce, as well as managing national policy.

McQueen became a nurse in 1982 and was an executive nursing director in Lanarkshire and Ayrshire and Arran. She is also an honorary professor at the University of the West of Scotland.

Professor Andrea Nolan OBE, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Edinburgh Napier University

On being appointed Dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at Glasgow University in 1999, Andrea Nolan became the first female dean of the university and the first female head of a British veterinary school.

She has won awards for her research in the field of animal pain and worked on a range of committees including the Scottish Funding Council Strategic Funds Advisory group and the Scottish Science Advisory Committee.

Nolan became the principal and vice-chancellor of Edinburgh Napier University in 2013.

Annemarie O’Donnell, Chief Executive, Glasgow City Council

Annemarie O’Donnell became the first female chief executive of Scotland’s largest local authority in 2014 with a budget of around £1.5bn and a share in the 10-year £1.13bn Glasgow City Region City Deal.

Trained as a solicitor, she joined Glasgow District Council in 1991, being promoted to chief solicitor in 1996 and becoming Glasgow City Council’s executive director of corporate services in 2011.

Alyson Stafford CBE, Director General Finance, Scottish Government

As Director General Finance, Alyson Stafford leads one of the Scottish Government’s six directorates, which has a budget of around £37bn, as well as being responsible for the government’s legal, procurement and planning appeals services.

She is a chartered accountant and member of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance Accountants. Stafford joined the Scottish Government as director of finance in 2005 after holding a number of senior financial roles in the NHS.

Prof Carol Tannahill, Director, Glasgow Centre for Population Health

Carol Tannahill is the director of the Glasgow Centre for Population Health, which works to improve health and tackle inequality.

She is currently the Scottish Government’s chief social policy adviser and a member of the advisory boards for IPPR Scotland, What Works Scotland, and Policy Scotland.

Tannahill has contributed to public health policy nationally and internationally. She is a fellow of the Faculty of Public Health and of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and an honorary professor of Glasgow University and Glasgow Caledonian University.

Dr Lena Wilson CBE, Chief Executive, Scottish Enterprise

Before becoming chief executive of Scotland’s economic development agency, Lena Wilson held the posts of chief executive of Scottish Development International and chief operating officer for Scottish Enterprise.

She was also a senior adviser to the World Bank in Washington DC on private sector development for developing countries.

She is a member of the Financial Services Advisory Board and chair of Scotland’s Energy Jobs Taskforce.

Lady Susan Rice CBE, Chair, Scottish Fiscal Commission

Lady Susan Rice holds a number of prominent rolls in Scottish fiscal life. She is the first chair of the Scottish Fiscal Commission, the non-statutory body that provides independent scrutiny of Scottish Government economic forecasts of receipts from taxes devolved to Scotland.

She is also president of the SCDI, an honorary position that recognises the contribution an individual has made to Scotland’s economic development.

Having been managing director of Lloyds Banking Group Scotland, and before that chief executive and chairman of Lloyds TSB Scotland, Rice became the first woman to head a UK clearing bank in 2000 and the first female president of SCDI in 2012.

She was appointed as chair of the board of Scottish Water in 2015 and sits on the Banking Standards Board.

Rice has held a range of other senior appointments including seven years as a non-executive director of the Bank of England and 11 years as a non-executive director of SSE and she chairs the 2020 Climate Leadership Group, a cross-sector collaboration on reduction of carbon emissions.

Rice was also a member of the First Minister’s Council of Economic Advisers, a founding non-executive of Big Society Capital and was founding director of the Charity Bank.

As well as holding a number of honorary degrees, Rice is a regent of the Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh and a Fellow of the RSA, the Chartered Banker Institute and of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

She chaired the Edinburgh International Book Festival and Edinburgh’s Festivals Forum and is a patron of the National Galleries of Scotland.

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