Our leadership team
Our leadership team
Members of the Board are appointed by Scottish Ministers and have a collective responsibility for the proper conduct of SDS affairs.
They are not appointed as representatives of individual organisations and are expected to use the experience and knowledge gained in their own careers when taking decisions on behalf of SDS.
The members are drawn from a range of backgrounds in the private and public sectors.
Other useful information
Tracy Black was appointed Scotland Director on 1 January 2018. A recognised thought-leader within the Scottish business community, Tracy regularly appears on platforms alongside Scotland’s foremost political and business leaders and has a growing reputation as an essential economic commentator.
Alongside a varied and distinguished career in the financial services sector, where she worked with top tier global financial institutions like Goldman Sachs International and UBS AG, Tracy has experience of working with a range of SMEs and entrepreneurial start-ups, particularly spin-outs from the higher education sector. Tracy has also provided advisory services to a range of start-ups and financial services companies and is currently co-owner of Carter Vintners Limited, a company producing high quality Australian wines.
In addition to professional roles, Tracy has been actively involved in leadership and mentoring programmes and in 2018 she set up the Scottish Leader’s Mentoring Scheme in partnership with Scottish Power to support female professionals in Scotland aspiring to move into senior leadership positions. She also sits on the Boards of The University of Strathclyde Enterprise and Investment Committee and Chairs the ScotRail Alliance Stakeholder Panel.
- Appointed by SDS as a co-opted member of the Board and re-appointed for a further 2 years from 1 November 2022 to 31 October 2024.
Elizabeth Corcoran is a qualified accountant with over thirty years’ experience at Board level in both public and commercial sectors.
Her previous roles have been with AstraZeneca, Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Student Loans Company and recently The James Hutton Institute. She has substantial experience of Strategic Planning, Finance, Governance, Risk and Change management.
Beth also has experience as a Non-Executive Director. She was a Board Member of Glasgow Prestwick Airport where she Chaired the Audit and Risk Committee and the Capital Investment Committee and sat on the Safety Committee.
Beth was a Member of the Investigation Committee at the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants for six years.Register of Interest
Sheila Cowan has vast experience of 25 years as a senior financial professional working in the global technology industry; gaining experience in change management, strategic planning, finance, audit and risk and people management. With the professional experience, as well as skills of collaboration, visionary and 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 and 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 and Arran Board, holding the position of Vice Chair, and also a member of the Integrated Joint Board for East Ayrshire. Sheila also chairs the Audit and Performance Committee for East Ayrshire & Performance Governance for NHS Ayrshire & Arran.
Educated to degree level with an MBA, she has a passion to 'make a difference', along with personal values of trust and 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 four years.
Register of Interest
Dr Mark Dames
Dr Mark Dames is Head of Digital Economy for the Government of Jersey, with responsibility for leadership on policies relating to digital, telecoms, data protection, cyber security and broadcasting.
Prior to this he was Head of Policy and Public Affairs for BT Group in Scotland, leading on policy for BT’s nations and regions and sitting as a member of the BT Scotland Board. With responsibility for the creation and execution of BT’s regional policy, he helped to deliver BT’s strategic objectives within the UK nations and regions. This included developing policy positions on issues that had an impact on the company’s business activities such as the role of digital technologies in driving up Scotland’s productivity performance.
He started his career with BT at the company’s research and development laboratories at Martlesham Heath, Ipswich. Working in the Optical Physics Division, he was part of a world-class team carrying out research into novel optical switching technologies and architectures for application in future-generation telecommunications networks.
He also spent a period of his career with Accenture, working on the development of the world’s first interactive digital television and advanced data services platform.
A graduate of Edinburgh and Cambridge Universities, Dr Dames is a Chartered Engineer and a Chartered Physicist.Register of Interest
Victoria is the director and owner of the Glen Mhor Hotel in Inverness, Uile-Bheist Distillery and Brewery and Shareholder in the J&R Group that owns hotels, bars and restaurants around Scotland. An experienced owner and qualified teacher with over 25 years’ experience working in both the hospitality and education industry and dedicated to linking these sectors together to ensure that opportunities in hospitality encourage lifelong learning.
Victoria has invested heavily in sustainable tourism and practices. The Glen Mhor is proud to be leading the way and in May 2022 opened a ground water heating source energy centre onsite – one of the first of its kind in Scotland. The energy centre will see the complete removal of all gas from the site, provide all the heating and all the water. Victoria has placed sustainable tourism at the heart of all developments as she looks to challenge mindsets on green practice, mental health and diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. She is passionate about inclusion and creating sector resources and school programs to ensure that access is never a barrier.
Victoria is also the founder of The South African Children’s Charitable Trust which supports both vulnerable and orphaned children in South Africa.
- Appointed by SDS as a co-opted member of the Board from 1 June 2023 to 31 May 2025.
Dr Carol Evans
Dr. Carol Evans has over 20 years’ experience of education, stakeholder engagement, strategic leadership and leading and driving change in complex organisations in the Private, Public and third sector. She worked at a strategic level in AstraZeneca, Kellogg’s, PepsiCo, Reckitt Benckiser, Royal Pharmaceutical Society, a national start up and currently Bield Housing and Care.
She has been involved in provision and management of learning and development and talent management throughout her career including being Global Clinical learning and Development Director at AZ where she had responsibility for the talent development of 6000 people worldwide. As a member of global executive teams she had been responsible for audit, risk and ensuring the highest standards of corporate governance.
Carol was appointed Non-Executive Director for Accounts Commission for Scotland starting October 2023 and Non-Executive for Food Standards Scotland (FSS) in July 2021 and member of the FSS Audit Risk Committee in March 2022. Previously she was a member of several other pharmacy and health related boards and government advisory groups and supported the development of regulations, policies and procedures around education and workforce development nationally.
Register of Interest
Nazim Hamid brings over 20 years’ experience and expertise across the public and voluntary sector. She currently works at Glasgow City Council, Chief Executive’s Department as part of a team dealing within information compliance and legislation.
Having worked from grassroots community groups, including the first Ethnic Minority led Law Centre in Europe, she has progressed to professional positions in local government and national public bodies. Her experience is broad, developing innovative strategies, operational protocols and policies to create better engagement between services and communities and equity in service and care. This includes over a decade of work with Police Scotland where she supported local policing initiatives and held the Chair positions with the National Independent Strategic Advisory Group and Divisional Commands.
Over the last five years she has been appointed to the Board of various public bodies. She has been with SDS for 4 years, during which she has served as the Chair of the SDS Equality Action Group, supporting the development of Equality and Diversity remit and is currently the Equality Champion for the organisation.
In the same period, she has held a position with the General Teacher Council for Scotland and Scottish Legal Aid Board, Criminal Quality Assurance Committee, along with various sub-committees etc.
Throughout all of the above, Nazim is a dedicated advocate of civic responsibility, volunteering, equality/diversity and justice. She continues to work with local community groups and agencies across Scotland to promote equality, diversity and community empowerment and support initiatives that seek to strengthen transparency in public service provisions.
Nazim passionately believes education and lifelong learning as essential components to social justice and equality for all. She established a mentoring programme for individuals wanting to contribute through public appointments as well as being a mentor with MCR Pathway and John Smiths Emerging Leadership programmes.
In 2020, in addition to her role with GCC Chief Executive’s Department she stepped up to the voluntary role of coordinator for a Council’s Black Minority Ethnic Equality Network representing almost a thousand BME officers across the Council family. To date the BME Network has increased membership threefold and proposed over 20 initiatives to address institutional discrimination, hate crime and inequality. She has also led on the delivery of the largest local government BME staff survey to ensure the workforce has a voice in the development of work for 2023.Register of Interest
Professor David Hillier
Professor David Hillier is Associate Principal at the University of Strathclyde, responsible for Global Engagement and Executive Dean of Strathclyde Business School. He is Chair of the Finance and Operational Performance Committee at Skills Development Scotland. David sits on the CBI Scotland Regional Council and the MCR Pathways National Advisory Board. He has won several industry awards, including the Institute of Directors Scotland Public Sector Director of the Year.
David is the author of several University textbooks and a visiting Professor at Politecnico Di Milano, Italy. He is a passionate advocate of using technology to enhance learning and brings over 25 years of international experience in education and industry to the Board of Skills Development Scotland.Register of Interest
Graham, a Chemical Engineering Graduate from Strathclyde University, has worked in the premium spirits sector for 36 years. The last 18 years as Managing Director Group Operations at Edrington where he managed all aspects of manufacturing and global supply.
He has considerable experience representing company, sector and wider business interests at senior Government and Regulator levels.
Graham is a former Chair of CBI (Scotland), North British Distillers, The Scotch Whisky Research Institute and President of Brugal SA in the Dominican Republic.
He was a member of the UK Food and Drink Sector Council, chairing the export group.
* Appointed by SDS as a co-opted member of the Board from 1 June 2023 to 31 May 2025.Register of Interest
Dr Poonam Malik
Dr Poonam Malik is a Chair, Board-Level Director and Advisor/Consultant with MedTech, Biotech, Life Sciences and Health Sector, Digital and Technology expertise, a Mentor for start-ups and scaleups and a Social Entrepreneur.
Dr Malik is an entrepreneurial, business strategist, academic leader and an investor in Innovation. She has extensive experience of working in research, innovation, enterprise, governance, health and business sectors globally. A GlobalScot and a Climate Champion and Board Member for Scottish Enterprise (with Scottish Development International, SDI); - Dr Malik has held leadership roles across public, private, higher education and social enterprise sectors. She is Head of Investments at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow UK – responsible for strategic leadership of the University’s enhanced Investments from entrepreneurial and commercialisation activities focused on startups, spinouts and spinin companies. She has recently been appointed Co-Chair, by Scottish Government, to lead on the First Minister’s ‘New Deal Business Group’ with the Cabinet Secretary for Wellbeing Economy.
Dr Malik is Non-Executive Director and Trustee for Firstport, Scotland’s National Start-up Social Enterprise Development Agency - supported by Scottish Government. She is Governor for Court of the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI), highest governing body, responsible for governance of a unique Partnership of 13 Academic Colleges.
Dr Malik is focussed on stimulating economic and inclusive growth with SMEs, industry, Private businesses - public partnerships and universities- link ups. Poonam brings 25+ years expertise in Technology businesses, in Life Sciences, Biotech, Health, digital and Medical sciences research and innovation. She is passionate about entrepreneurship, impact, Equality, Diversity and Inclusive (ED&I) values and climate change/NetZero. She is a Syndicate Investor with- Investing Women Angels and a Chair, NED and Board-level Advisor/Consultant for Technology Startups.
Poonam has held Academic positions at the Universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Cumbria/Lancaster and worked internationally in Asia/India. She is an elected Fellow with the Royal Society of Edinburgh (FRSE) and Royal Society of Biology (FRSB). Poonam holds an MBA (with Distinction) in 'Strategy and Leadership' from the University of Edinburgh Business School, a PhD in Biomedical Sciences/Virology from the University of Glasgow, UK, a Masters (MSc) degree in Biotechnology and a Bachelors (BSc) in Chemistry and Zoology from India.Register of Interest
Margaret McCaig BA, CMIIA
A senior director with over 20 years’ experience in the global financial services industry across all three lines of defence. Currently Managing Director, Global Head Regulatory Compliance, Conduct and Legal Audit (RCCL).
As Global Head of RCCL, Margaret is responsible for the provision of independent, objective assurance and consulting services over Regulatory Compliance, Conduct, and Legal (RCCL) risks across HSBC Group. Margaret joined HSBC in 2015 from Barclays to design and implement a strategic enhancement programme in Regulatory Compliance Monitoring. In 2019, Margaret led the integration of the Financial Crime and Regulatory Compliance Monitoring and Testing teams and was appointed Global Head of Compliance Assurance Professional Practices in 2020 which was extended to cover Risk in 2022.
Previously Margaret held senior positions in Barclays Compliance, Lloyds Banking Group Commercial Banking, Lloyds Group Internal Audit and HBOS. Margaret is a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Internal Auditors (CIIA) and is an experienced Trainer who delivered training for the CIIA for over a decade. A mentor to internal colleagues and Women in Banking and Finance members she is passionate about helping others succeed in their career and reach their potential.
Frank Mitchell, former CEO of SP Energy Networks, took up the post of Chair of Skills Development Scotland on 1 October 2018.
Frank has more than 30 years’ experience in working internationally across the energy sector and leading large multiskilled 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.Register of Interest
Christine Pollock CBE
Christine Pollock CBE is a former Director of Learning and Leisure Services in North Lanarkshire Council, responsible for statutory education, early years provision, community learning and development, library and cultural services, sport and leisure.
She was a Member of Sir Ian Wood’s Commission for Developing the Young Workforce (DYW) and is currently a Member of the Programme Board for DYW and was previously a Member of the Scottish Advisory Board for Outward Board.
In 2012 Christine was awarded a CBE for services to education and in 2013 was awarded a Fellowship to SQA.
Christine was a member of the Early Years Commission established by Children in Scotland which reported to the Scottish Government and made recommendations on the further expansion of provision.
From 2018 until 2023 she was Chair of the Scottish Advisory Group for the Creative Learning Plan.
She was previously a Co-Opted Board Member for Skills Development Scotland.Register of Interest
David Rankin is a qualified accountant with over 35 years’ experience as a senior Finance leader in the FMCG, Retail and Banking industries. He has worked for Unilever, the Burton Group, RBS and Barclays and held directorships in Finance, Treasury, Operations and Strategy.
David has also provided consultancy services to the Financial Services and Life Sciences industries when working for Ernst and Young and at IBM, where he ran part of the UK consulting business.
He was on the Board of Citizen’s Advice Scotland and is currently Vice-Chair of TACT UK, a fostering charity, and is a chair of the Edinburgh Children’s Panel. He recently completed a 10 month assignment as interim CFO of Forensic Analytics, a software company.
He grew up in various British army locations overseas and finished his secondary education at Buckhaven High School in Fife.
David has an MA in Economics from Edinburgh University and a Masters in Strategy and Innovation from Said Business School, Oxford.
Education was David’s route out of poverty and he is passionate about improving the opportunities for people in Scotland.
* Appointed by SDS as a co-opted member of the Board from 1 March 2023 to 28 February 2025.Register of Interest
Paul Taylor is currently Managing Director of British Telecom’s Global Banking business unit, responsible for the technology provision and digital transformation for the largest global banks.
Paul was previously responsible for BT’s Public Sector business, and prior to that was Global CIO. He brings significant business transformation and digital enablement expertise to SDS and a knowledge of the skills, training and personal development needed to successfully compete in today’s global markets.
Paul is a graduate of Glasgow University, Strathclyde Graduate Business School and Oxford University, and is passionate about continuous education and development to ensure individuals have the skills and capabilities to thrive in today’s fast changing work environment.Register of Interest
Damien Yeates - Chief Executive
Damien has been the Chief Executive of Skills Development Scotland (SDS) since its inception in 2008. SDS has a turnover of £220 million and c1,400 colleagues operating in secondary schools, specialist educational establishments, SDS branded public access centres, partner premises and other community bases across Scotland.
Central to SDS’s role and purpose is its contribution to the creation of a strong, vibrant and diverse economy. With SDS leading on skills planning and development, Damien is committed to forging strong relationships between providers of education and training and businesses and industry, ensuring support for both employers to get the skills they need and for individuals to maximise their potential.
Damien has overseen an extensive modernisation programme to enhance the scope and reach of Careers Information, Advice and Guidance services in Scotland. An example was the introduction of an award-winning digital service, My World of Work which has been recognised by Education Scotland for its valuable contribution to careers services.
Damien has also strengthened and developed the crucial links between employer demand for, and the supply of, skilled individuals into employment through strategic initiatives. This includes working in partnership locally and regionally to develop Skills Investment Plans for each of Scotland’s key growth and economic sectors and through regional skills assessments throughout the length and breadth of Scotland.
Damien’s extensive international knowledge of, and advocacy for, work-based learning has driven the creation of new opportunities for young people to sustain and achieve success in the labour market, such as the introduction of Foundation Apprenticeships for senior school pupils.
As Scotland’s economy recovers from the pandemic, Damien has led efforts to ensure SDS has remained agile to the needs of its customers – with enhanced offers across key areas such as economic and labour market insights, support for apprenticeships and Scotland’s career service.
Passionate about skills development and its contribution to a prospering Scottish economy; Damien’s future ambitions for SDS include improving industry engagement in workforce development through Scottish Apprenticeships, supporting inclusion and diversity in fair and productive workplaces, and providing greater support to school pupils earlier to help them on the path to sustainable and rewarding careers.
Damien has overseen continuous improvement, quality management and performance at SDS, highlighted by SDS’s seven-star EFQM recognition in spring 2021 – and demonstrating SDS as an employer of choice for young people is its Investors in Young People accreditation, achieving platinum level in Summer 2021.
Underlining Damien’s commitment to providing exemplary workplace practices, SDS was ranked top Scottish employer for Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index in 2020.Register of Interest