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Former minister Deacon takes chair at IoD Scotland

Susan DeaconFormer Scottish government minister Susan Deacon has today been named chairman of the Institute of Directors in Scotland and the first female to hold the position.

Ms Deacon succeeds Ian McKay who will stand down at the conference on Friday, having served since 2012.

She has served on the boards of a number of businesses and charities and was elected MSP for Edinburgh East and Musselburgh in 1999, serving as Scotland’s first Cabinet Minister for Health following devolution.

She stood down from elected office in 2007, and has since worked widely across the private, public and third sectors in the fields of leadership, governance and strategic change.

Ms Deacon graduated in Social Policy and Politics and later achieved an MBA from the University of Edinburgh.  Her early career was in local government management and research before moving into management consultancy in the private sector and then executive education as MBA Director of Programmes at Edinburgh Business School, Heriot Watt University.

She is currently assistant principal external relations and a professorial fellow at the University of Edinburgh and was previously professor of social change at Queen Margaret University. She is a regular contributor to policy and leadership forums across the UK and has been an advisor to many organisations on business strategy and public policy issues.

Her non-executive director roles include ScottishPower, Lothian Buses and the Institute of Occupational Medicine

Previous appointments include chairman of ScottishPower Renewable Energy, Scottish Government Early Years’ ‘Champion’, Founding Chair of the Hibernian Community Foundation and a board member of the Iberdrola Foundation, Pfizer UK Foundation, Traverse Theatre and Dewar Arts Awards Trust.

Mr McKay welcomed Ms Deacon’s appointment.  He said: “The future of the IoD is in excellent hands with Susan at the helm.  Her varied experience and approach to leadership will be of real benefit to the IoD at a time when boards are increasingly embracing change.”

Commenting on her appointment, Ms Deacon signalled her intention to build on IoD Scotland’s work to date to promote strong leadership and governance.

“Successful organisations need effective leaders – it’s that simple. If Scotland is to continue to grow and flourish on a world stage we need to support the leaders of today and to grow the leaders of tomorrow.

“So too must our Boardrooms have within them a diverse range of skills and experience and operate to the highest possible standards.”

She added “It is crucially important that Scotland remains a good place in which to invest and do business. Over the years, I have had the privilege to work with a wide range of people and organisations who are driving creativity, innovation, enterprise and growth across Scotland.

“IoD Scotland has a key role to play in supporting Scotland’s business leaders to ensure their voices are heard and their contribution is recognised. Achieving economic success and social progress go hand in hand. With more powers being devolved to Scotland, and Holyrood elections next year, it is vital that that policymakers work to support and enable enterprise and do not put obstacles or constraints in its way.”

David Watt, executive director of IoD Scotland said: “We look forward to working with Susan to further grow the IoD in Scotland, and to drive change across Scotland’s business sector.”

Ms Deacon’s first opportunity to address the membership will be at the conference on Friday. Joining her on the podium will be a number of Scottish leaders and prominent speakers including Gordon Dewar, chief executive of Edinburgh Airports; Philip Grant, chairman of the Scottish executive committee of Lloyds Banking Group; and Stephen Whitelaw, a technology futurologist.

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