The new chief executive of the Scottish Council for Development and Industry (SCDI) has highlighted the need to improve skills, exploit digital technologies and tackle climate change as key areas of focus to drive improvements in the nation’s productivity and economic growth.
Sara Thiam, currently the Scotland director of the Institution of Civil Engineers, will take up the SCDI role in June, ten months after previous chief executive Mark Bevan left the organisation after resigning.
Thiam, who is also member of the Scottish Government’s newly-formed Infrastructure Commission, said that in common with other countries around the world, Scotland faces “unprecedented environmental, demographic, mobility, educational and technological challenges”.
“Ensuring our people have the right skills and knowledge, embracing digital technology and tackling climate change hold the key to driving a much-needed surge in productivity and sustainable economic prosperity,” she said.
“With change comes opportunity and I’m passionate about Scotland’s ability to innovate. Directing our talent for innovation to delivering improved economic, social and environmental outcomes will help us compete internationally.”
Thiam said that with continued uncertainty around Brexit affecting inward investment and business confidence, she believes there is a greater need than ever for the SCDI and its members to “drive forward a new agenda which delivers economic prosperity and supports all our people, businesses and communities to thrive”.
SCDI chairman Ian Wall said Thiam “stands out as a natural communicator with a passion to increase and share knowledge on things that matter to the people of Scotland”.
“Her track record spans the public, private and third sectors at local, national and EU level and demonstrates an ability to bring people and ideas together.
“These skills will help SCDI and its members to continue to lead the debate on, and contribute to, Scotland’s economy and society for the benefit of all,” he said.
Thiam’s previous roles have included serving as manager of the Glasgow Edinburgh Collaboration Initiative, a partnership of both cities and Scottish Enterprise, where she championed projects for economic prosperity.
She also helped make the case for extending the high-speed rail line (HS2) to Scotland as chair of Transport Scotland’s High Speed Rail Promotion group.
Founded in 1931, SCDI has members from across the private, public and social economy sectors.