When the Implementation Plan for the creation of the Scottish National Investment Bank was published on 28th February 2018 it opened with words of Michelangelo Buonarroti: “The greater danger for most of us is not that we aim too high and miss it, but that we aim too low and reach it.”

The unfolding of political and economic events since then have served to reinforce Scotland’s need to focus on the National Performance Framework and to protect our values.

The development of the bank will be an essential component of our armoury as we ensure that our ambition is not thwarted. 

We have a unique opportunity to build a bank that - from its beginning - has the hallmarks of an institution fit for purpose in the 21st century.

One that can support the country in the face of economic headwinds and industrial dislocation.

One that operates in a manner that recognises how crucial it will be to collaborate across the broad ecosystem that incorporates public and private bodies.

And one that will do so with integrity, inclusion and transparency.

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The kernel of the bank’s funding will be to support the ambition and dynamism of small businesses, and to underpin investment in mission related activities such as the move to a zero-carbon future.

It is paramount that leadership of the bank can step forward with relish and courage.

Leadership is the most vital ingredient in the cocktail required to give Scotland the best opportunity to succeed over the next ten years and beyond. 

The first leadership appointment - and one that will influence every other one - is the chair.

The Scottish Government opened the process for applications on July 12.

As chair of the selection panel - which also includes Dame Susan Rice, Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli and the Scottish Government’s Director-General Economy Liz Ditchburn - I hope and expect to encounter a strong, diverse group of candidates.

The selection process will, of course, be meticulous in its adherence to fairness.

We urge those with the experience, the skills, the values, and a sense of vocation to come forward.

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In particular we must appoint a chair who will establish the right kind of board and play their part in attracting a strong executive team.

The chair will be someone who recognises that the right culture takes time to build and is shaped by what is promoted, tolerated, and abhorred on a daily basis.

It will be an individual who understands the crucial role of strategy as a framework for prioritisation and for understanding how we as a country can win.

The chair will be able, through working with others, to make an essential contribution to the long-term well-being of Scotland. 

This is a rare chance to shape an institution as it develops in a manner bespoke for the challenges and opportunities we face as a country.

Benny Higgins is Strategic Adviser to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on the Scottish National Investment Bank.