Public appointment: Members appointed to Skills Development Scotland Board

Public appointments news release

The Minister for Higher Education and Further Education, Youth Employment and Training today announced the appointments of Sheila Cowan, Margaret McCaig and Eileen Russell as Members of the Skills Development Scotland Board.


Sheila Cowan has vast experience of 25 years at a senior financial professional working in the global technology industry; gaining experience in change management, strategic planning, finance, audit & risk & people management. With the professional experience, as well as skills of collaboration, visionary & leadership qualities, she worked on voluntary business mentorship programmes alongside gaining board experience as finance director for a national sports body, plus consulting on due diligence for company mergers/acquisitions. She passionately believes in learning & development, from education to lifelong learning from establishing skills to enrich careers for all individuals. Sheila also has non-executive director experience, currently being a board member of the NHS Ayrshire & Arran Board, and also member of the Integrated Joint Board for East Ayrshire, she also chairs the Audit & Performance Committee for East Ayrshire Educated to degree level with an MBA, she has a passion to 'make a difference', along with personal values of trust & respect and working with integrity at all times, are the most important aspects for Sheila. Sheila has been appointed by SDS as a member of the Board for 4 years.

Margaret McCaig is a Managing Director and Non-Executive Board member with 20 years’ experience in Financial Services. She has spent the majority of her career working in Audit and Risk where she has developed subject matter expertise  but has also experience in commercial banking lending and working as a Trainer for the Chartered Institute of Internal Auditors. She is currently Global Head of Regulatory Compliance, Conduct & Legal Audit in HSBC responsible for the provision of independent, objective assurance and consulting services over Regulatory Compliance, Conduct, and Legal (RCCL) risks across HSBC Group. She is an advocate for Diversity and inclusion supporting colleagues in HSBC to develop their careers and she is also a mentor for Women in Banking & Finance.

Eileen Russell is a Principal Consultant for Ricardo - a global engineering consultancy and she brings over 20 years’ experience in engineering and manufacturing to the SDS Board. Passionate about developing skills, capability and equality in STEM (Science Technology Engineering Manufacturing) industries, previous roles have included Bombardier Transportation, Frazer-Nash Consultancy, ScotRail and Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) as Head of Engineering. Eileen has been a co-opted SDS Board Member since March 2020 and SDS representative on National Manufacturing Institute for Scotland (NMIS) Board. Eileen has a Masters degree in Product Design Engineering from University of Strathclyde. Eileen is Chartered Engineer and a Fellow of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers.   


These appointments will be for 4 years and will run from 1 November 2022 to 31 October 2026.

These appointments are regulated by the Ethical Standards Commissioner.


These appointments are part-time and attracts a remuneration of £339 for a time commitment of 24 days per year.

Other ministerial appointments

Ms Cowan is a Member of the NHS Ayrshire and Arran Board, for which she receives remuneration of £8930 per year, for a time commitment of 1 day per week.

Miss McCaig and Mrs Russell do not hold any other public appointments.

Political activity

All appointments are made on merit and political activity plays no part in the selection process. However, in accordance with the original Nolan recommendations, there is a requirement for appointees’ political activity within the last five years (if there is any to be declared) to be made public.   

Ms Cowan, Miss McCaig and Mrs Russell have had no political activity within the last five years.


Skills Development Scotland (SDS) is Scotland’s national skills body. It contributes to Scotland’s sustainable economic growth by supporting people and businesses to develop and apply their skills. SDS work with their partners to provide services that deliver the very best outcomes for Scotland’s people, businesses and the economy.

SDS is a Non-Departmental Public Body (NDPB) responsible to Scottish Ministers with private limited company status and board members are non-executive directors of the company.

With more than 1,400 colleagues working across the country in schools, careers centres, colleague only office sites and partner locations, SDS are passionate about skills development and its contribution to a modern, innovative and prosperous Scottish economy.

Working with their partners, SDS strives to build a dynamic and responsive skills system, ensuring employers have the right skills at the right time to drive business productivity and inclusive growth. They also work to ensure every individual has the skills and confidence to get a job and progress in the world of work, achieving their full potential.

SDS are committed to building a Scotland which champions fair work practices and a diverse and inclusive workforce.   

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