Daisy Narayanan - Architecture and Design Scotland board member: case study

Public appointment case study.

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Tell us about the board you sit on and what it does

Board Member – Architecture and Design Scotland (A&DS)

Architecture and Design Scotland (A&DS) is a non-departmental public body set up in 2005 which promotes Scottish architecture, design and place making both nationally and internationally. A&DS supports the delivery of a wide range of buildings and places including many schools, health facilities, town centres and regeneration schemes. It works with communities and with decision makers to create resilient and sustainable places across Scotland to showcase the value good architecture and sustainable design adds to everyone’s lives.

Tell us about your journey to becoming a board member

Why did you apply?

As an urban designer working in Scotland for around 15 years, I have always admired the work of A&DS and their design-led approach to good places. I was contacted by a couple of colleagues to let me know that there was an opportunity to join the A&DS Board as four roles had been advertised. I spoke to a Board member to understand what the role involved and he convinced me that my skills and experience were relevant and I should not hesitate in applying for the role. Having sat on a few Boards (not public appointments), I felt I was ready to take on a new challenge and contribute to an organisation that I admire.

What experience did you bring from other roles e.g. from professional life, personal life, voluntary roles?

As an architect/urban designer having lived and worked in several countries, I bring an international outlook to my work on the Board. When I applied for the Board position, I worked for Sustrans, who are a United Kingdom walking and cycling charity, and the custodian of the National Cycle Network. At that time, I was on an 18-month secondment to the City of Edinburgh Council, which helped bring relevant experience of designing good places for people, community engagement experience and collaborative design processes to this role. I had experience as a member of the Active Travel Task Force, set up by Scottish Government to address barriers to walking and cycling in Scotland and sat on the Climate Challenge Fund panel. In 2017, I was listed in Environment Journal as one of five inspiring women, alongside Janet Sadik Khan and Anne Hidalgo, working to change the way we travel. Through my work, I have always tried to influence the quality of our built environment add to the voices speaking up for leadership and gender equality within transport. Currently, I work for the City of Edinburgh Council, leading on placemaking and mobility.

What have you gained from your time on the board?

As a relatively new member of the Board, I have really benefitted from the breadth of experience and knowledge of the other members. I have enjoyed being part of the strategy development process in A&DS, especially as the members bring a cross-sectoral, strategic lens to the process. I admire and have enjoyed working with the Chair of the Board and am learning a lot from how she conducts the meetings and facilitates excellent conversations. Finally, I am delighted that I can be part of the review in the Appointments process to enable a more inclusive and diverse pool of applicants to future Board positions.

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about a public appointment?

I would tell them to understand what the organisation is about, map it to their own skills and experience and if it feels right, to not hesitate in applying for the role. It is easy sometimes to forget the importance of challenging yourself and trusting your own capacity to make a positive contribution at a senior level. I would encourage people to apply as it is a hugely valuable experience and having more diverse voices in the process will help provide a richer and deeper conversation in Scotland.

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