Enterprise and Skills Strategic Board: members' biographies

Biographies for the members of the Enterprise and Skills Strategic Board.

Nora Senior CBE – Chair 

Chair, UK Regions and Ireland, Weber Shandwick

A specialist in corporate communications, Nora Senior has more than 25 years’ experience working with clients across a wide range of sectors, including infrastructure, transport, energy, property, finance, healthcare, technology and FMCG. 

Her professional skills include strategic counsel, reputation management, high level media relations, integrated marketing and crisis management. 

In May she stepped down as Chair of Scottish Chambers of Commerce after serving a four year term and is a former President of the British Chambers of Commerce.

Scott McLarty – Vice Chair 

Vice President – UK and Malaysia Spirit AeroSystems (Europe) Limited 

Scott McLarty joined Spirit AeroSystems in April 2006 as part of the acquisition of BAE Systems’ Aerostructures business unit in the UK which created Spirit Aerosystems (Europe) Limited. 

After originally joining BAE Systems in 1990, Scott held a number of roles including Director positions in Operations, Project Management, Business Improvement, Supply Chain and HR. 

In 2013, Scott was appointed Vice President for the UK and Malaysia business units, which provide aviation manufacturers such as Boeing and Airbus with major airframe structures. 

Scott has a Fellowship in Aerospace Manufacturing Management from Cranfield University. He is also a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society

Dr Mike Cantlay OBE 

Chair, Scottish Funding Council 

Mike is Chair of the SFC, Chair of Scottish Natural Heritage and of Chair of Highlands and Islands Airport Limited. He has over 20 years’ experience of public sector governance. 

Mike is Chairman and Managing Director of William Glen Limited. He has held several public appointments including Chair of VisitScotland; Convener of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park Authority; Chair of Scottish Enterprise Forth Valley; Chair of the Board of Management at Forth Valley College; Advisory Member of the Board of Scottish Enterprise and Board Member of VisitBritain. 

Dr Cantlay was awarded Public Sector Leader of the Year at the Scottish Leadership Awards 2012 and was made an OBE in 2014 for services to tourism.

Professor Sara Carter OBE 

Professor Sara Carter OBE FRSE is Vice-Principal and Head of the College of Social Sciences at the University of Glasgow. Sara is a member of several external boards, including South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE) and Women's Enterprise Scotland. She has previously served on the British Bankers’ Association Diversity and Inclusion Business Council; the Scottish Government Strategic Group on Women and Work; the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants Research Committee; and the Leverhulme Trust Research Awards Advisory Group. As a Professor of Entrepreneurship, her work focuses on SMEs, access to finance, and the economic well-being of entrepreneurial households.  

Audrey Cumberford MBE FRSE

Principal and Chief Executive, Edinburgh College  

Audrey Cumberford is the Principal and Chief Executive of Edinburgh College, Scotland’s largest regional College and one of the largest colleges in the UK with a global reach stretching across five continents. Audrey is a Graduate of a number of world leading UK Universities, including Oxford University’s Said Business School. Having graduated in Edinburgh Audrey moved to Bristol University to undertake research within the field of sports psychology. Following this, she left the University sector and moved into private industry before returning to the education sector where she has held senior roles for the past 20 years.  

Audrey is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, only the second College Sector leader to be appointed in the Academy’s history and was recently recognised in the Queen’s Honours A career spanning both the private and education sector underpins Audrey’s passion and drive to ensure tertiary education in Scotland plays a fundamental role in supporting businesses across the country.  

Professor Russel Griggs OBE 

Chair, South of Scotland Economic Partnership 

Professor Griggs started his business life in marketing in the pharmaceutical industry before moving to the consumer flooring industry. He was the CEO of an industrial textile company in England in the 1980s. In 1990, he joined Scottish Enterprise in a business development role and became an Executive Director of Scottish Enterprise where he ran the investment banking and business development arms, as well as spending some years in the USA looking at outward investment for Scottish companies. Awarded an OBE in 2008, he has held a number of non-executive positions in the private, public and third sectors. He chairs the Scottish Government’s independent Regulatory Review Group, is Chair of the Scottish Mines Restoration Trust and Board member of Audit Scotland. In November 2017, he was appointed Chair of the South of Scotland Economic Partnership to help prepare the ground for the new enterprise agency for the region.

Cllr Steven Heddle 

Environment and Economy spokesperson, CoSLA 

Steven Heddle is from Kirkwall, Orkney, and studied at Aberdeen and Edinburgh Universities, gaining a BSc and PhD in Physics. After working for both the public and private sector in R&D, he returned to Orkney in 1999 where he ran a business and technical consultancy and worked for HIE. First elected in 2007, he led the Orkney Islands Council from 2012-2017, during which time he shared the 2013 Herald Local Politician of the Year Award and 2014 Scottish Public Service Award for Leadership. He served as President of the CPMR Islands Commission from 2014-2016, as a board member of NHS Orkney from 2015-2017 and as a member of the CoSLA Commission for Strengthening Local Democracy. He was appointed CoSLA Spokesperson for the Environment and Economy in May 2017.

Melinda Matthews-Clarkson

CEO at CodeClan

Melinda is a CEO with a passion for technology to drive economic growth in Scotland. As the leader of CodeClan, Melinda is championing the growing digital sector by supporting and encouraging individuals into the world of software development. Her experience as a Global VP of Software Sales and Marketing for ISVs and Alliances at IBM, has given her an insight on how the world embraces technology for commercial and social success. She is an experienced manager at leading diverse teams, at different stages of business maturity, with an emphasis of activating individuals to aspire to their dreams.

Dr Gillian Murray

Deputy Principal of Business and Enterprise

Dr Gillian Murray joined Heriot-Watt University in October 2016 to lead on the development and implementation of the University’s Enterprise and Business Engagement Strategy, mobilising the University’s intellectual and capital assets to effect greater impact regionally, nationally and globally. The position is in support of the University’s strategic vision of being a world-leading institution developing entrepreneurial students and staff who addressing global challenges to drive transformational social and economic benefits. Gillian is passionate about driving global innovation and skills development using new digital technology to break down collaboration barriers and facilitate co-invention. She is currently the Chair of the Centre for Work Based Learning, working with partners in Scotland to enhance opportunity through work based learning. 

Simon Cotton, Johnstons of Elgin 

Simon Cotton is the Chief Executive of luxury textiles company Johnstons of Elgin.  With Scotland’s largest weaving mill in Elgin and Scotland’s largest knitting mill in Hawick, Johnstons is a major employer in its rural communities. The company is a leader in sustainability and won the Queen’s Award for Enterprise for Sustainable Development in 2021. The company is an SQA approved accreditation centre for training and developing its workforce and holds the Investors in Young People Gold Award. Simon is also the Chair of the Scottish Textiles Industry Leadership Group, a board member of the UK Fashion and Textiles Association and a Visiting Professor at Robert Gordon University.  

Alison Milne, Crafty Maltsters Ltd

Alison Milne has a portfolio career spanning the food and drink and agriculture sector, including experience in consulting, representation and practical business application. Alison is currently a partner in A Milne and Son farming enterprise and co-founder and Director of Crafty Maltsters Ltd.

Alison has held and is currently involved in a number of representative roles within the food, drink and agriculture industries, including – Former Co-chair of the National Council of Rural Advisors, member of the Scottish Government Arable Climate Change Group, Director of Scotland Food and Drink and member of The Brewing Industry Leadership Group. In 2020 Alison was awarded an MBE for services to rural Scotland and agriculture.

Caroline Barelle, Elasmogen

Caroline is CEO and co-founder of Elasmogen, a company that discovers and develops soloMER biologics for the treatment of inflammatory diseases and cancer. Before establishing Elasmogen, she successfully led teams at Wyeth and subsequently Pfizer in Global Bio-therapeutic Technologies and was Alliance and Programs Manager at Haptogen Ltd. She has been awarded a prestigious Royal Society of Edinburgh Enterprise Fellowship, is a doctoral graduate from the University of Aberdeen in Biochemistry and an MBA (distinction) from Robert Gordon’s University, Business School. Caroline is a member of the Enterprise Skills and Strategy Board, is a Senior Associate for the Entrepreneurial Business School, Edinburgh, Entrepreneur in Residence for Queen’s University Belfast and sits on various UKRI review panels. 

Alistair Dodds, Highlands and Islands Enterprise

Alistair joined the Board of HIE in April 2014 and was appointed Chair in May 2020. He previously held senior management positions in the Highland Council over a period of 18 years in HR and Corporate Governance and was Chief Executive for over six years until August 2013. He has a good understanding of remote and rural areas, been directly involved in significant public sector reform and delivered the benefits from strong and effective partnership working with the public, private and third/voluntary sectors. Alistair is also a Trustee of the National Galleries of Scotland (Depute Board Chair and Chair of the Audit and Risk Committee).

Frank Mitchell, Skills Development Scotland

Frank has more than 30 years’ experience in working internationally across the energy sector and leading large multi-skilled teams across diverse locations and leading business change and innovation. He brings extensive experience of working with key external stakeholders including customers, communities, governments, regulators and trade unions.

He has been in his current role for over 10 years and in that time has recruited over 1200 apprentices and graduate trainees into his business.

Lord Smith of Kelvin, Scottish Enterprise

One of the UK’s most experienced chairs, Lord Smith has led organisations in the private, public and voluntary sectors.

He was Chair of The Weir Group plc until 2013, SSE plc until 2015 and The UK Green Investment Bank until 2017. In 2014 he chaired the Organising Committee for Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and the Smith Commission on further powers for the Scottish Parliament.

A chartered accountant by profession and former President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland, Lord Smith was knighted in 1999, appointed to the House of Lords as an independent cross-bench peer in 2008, appointed Knight of the Thistle in 2013, and awarded the Companion of Honour in 2016.

He is currently Chair, British Business Bank, IMI plc, and Forth Ports Ltd and Chancellor, University of Strathclyde.

Grahame Smith, Former General Secretary of the STUC

Grahame Smith is the former General Secretary of the Scottish TUC. 

He is a Graduate of Strathclyde University, where he obtained an Honours Degree in Economics and Industrial Relations.

Currently, he serves as a Non-Executive Director of Skills Development Scotland and of the SQA and as co-Chair of the Fair Work Convention. He is also Chair of the Programme Board for the Careers Review. 

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