Highlands and Islands Enterprise appoints CEO

Stuart Black

Highlands and Islands Enterprise announced that Stuart Black has been appointed its next chief executive.

Black, who will take up the post in January 2022, has led the economic and community development agency’s Moray team since February 2020.

Earlier this year, he took on additional responsibility as HIE’s lead area manager, co-ordinating the work of eight locally-based teams around the region.

Originally from Inverness, Black is a graduate of the universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, where he gained a doctorate in town and regional planning.

Black began his career with the University of Aberdeen, before joining HIE for the first time in 1996, as head of economics.

Between then and 2008, he held several posts covering different parts of the organisation’s remit.

These included local enterprise company chief executive, director of strengthening communities, and director of global connections.

From 2008 to 2020, he was a member of the senior team at the Highland Council, initially as director of planning and development, and later as executive chief officer for transformation and economy.

Economy Secretary Kate Forbes said: “Highlands and Islands Enterprise has a vital role to play in supporting businesses and communities through a sustainable economic recovery from the impacts of the pandemic and helping to drive forward an ambitious agenda of economic transformation.

“I am delighted to welcome Stuart Black to his new post.

“He is already held in high esteem across communities and businesses because of his previous work in the Highlands.

“I have had the privilege of working with him in the past, and I look forward to strengthening our working relationship.

“I am very much looking forward to working with Stuart Black and his colleagues in Highlands and Islands Enterprise to ensure communities and businesses across the whole of this large and diverse region are supported to build resilience and achieve their full potential.”

HIE chair Alistair Dodds said: “This is a significant appointment for HIE of course, and for the Highlands and Islands more widely.

“The economic impacts of the pandemic were keenly felt by Scotland’s rural areas, including many that depend on hard-hit sectors such as tourism, hospitality and food and drink.

“That said, we have some wonderful assets across our region – not just our geography, culture and heritage, but also the skills and resourcefulness of our communities and businesses – that offer tremendous hope for the future.

“A key part of the chief executive’s job will be building strong relationships and working collaboratively with our partners in local and national government and other public bodies, both within the Highlands and Islands and further afield.

“I know Stuart will bring to the role not only his exceptional talent and experience, but also a willingness to listen to our businesses and communities, and the energy and creativity we need to work together to make a positive difference in the years ahead.”