Director-General Strategy and External Affairs

Ken Thomson



Postal address:
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

Ken Thomson became Director-General for Constitution and External Affairs in July 2017. This role became Director-General Strategy and External Affairs from February 2022.


The Director General for Strategy and External Affairs is focused on leading and supporting work on intergovernmental relations, oversight of strategic cross-cutting issues, external affairs (including Scotland’s relationship with the EU) and constitutional issues.

The Director-General Strategy and External Affairs is a member of our Corporate Governance Board.


Ken was previously Director-General Strategy and Operations.

Throughout his career in the civil service, Ken has been in a wide variety of posts, often working closely with Ministers. He was Principal Private Secretary to Donald Dewar as Secretary of State for Scotland, and then as the inaugural First Minister of a devolved Scottish administration. He led work to deliver a referendum on Scottish independence in 2014, and on constitutional changes thereafter including in relation to the Scotland Act 2016 and the negotiation of the Fiscal Framework for Scotland.

He has also worked in policy areas ranging from public health to civil justice, and on secondments to the financial services sector and in the Scottish Prison Service.

Ken has degrees in music and business. His interests include negotiation, programme and project management and systems thinking and practice. Away from work, he cycles, plays music, does crosswords and makes bread.

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