Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) — which has a 2017-18 budget of £65.9 million, including £55.7 million from the Scottish Government — said it appointed Charlotte Wright as its new chief executive.
HIE invests in developing businesses, economic sectors and communities across an area which covers half of Scotland, including all inhabited islands.
Wright is currently the agency’s director of business and sector development and has held the role of interim chief executive since August last year.
On the Scottish national stage, HIE also co-manages the Scottish Land Fund with Big Lottery Scotland, operates Community Broadband Scotland, and supports research and development through a subsidiary company, Wave Energy Scotland.
Recruitment for the chief executive’s post started in March this year, and attracted widespread interest.
Fergus Ewing, Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Connectivity, said: “Charlotte has proven herself as an exceptional leader who is absolutely committed to making a difference in every part of the region, and I am certain she will be a highly effective and inspiring chief executive for years to come.
“The Scottish Government and HIE work closely together as part of Team Scotland on economic development and that arrangement works well.”
Wright joined HIE 20 years ago after running her own small business and working in the NHS.
She held several positions with HIE in Lochaber, rising to the position of local enterprise company chief executive.
She was appointed the agency’s regional director for Highland in 2008 and as director of business and sector development in 2010.
“It has been an absolute privilege to have served HIE in my present post, and I am both delighted and honoured to have been appointed as chief executive,” said Wright.
“Our results for 2016-17 demonstrate a highly successful set of achievements in very challenging economic circumstances, and our new operating plan for the current year shows that we are as ambitious for every part of our region as we have ever been.
“We will undoubtedly face some challenges in the next few years, as will other parts of the country, but our businesses and communities have proven themselves time and again to be resilient and adaptable to new circumstances.
“I look forward to working with our many partners to ensure the Highlands and Islands continues to punch above its weight as a successful region and make a strong contribution to Scotland’s economic growth.”
Lorne Crerar, chair of HIE, said: “In Charlotte Wright, I am confident we have found the ideal person to lead HIE into a new chapter.
“Her combination of experience, skills and passion for the Highlands and Islands made her a clear choice for this position.”