By Scott Wright

SCOTTISH Enterprise has named agency stalwart Linda Hanna, a member of its senior leadership team, as its interim chief executive.

Ms Hanna takes the helm at the country’s main economic development agency following the abrupt resignation of Steve Dunlop last week. She has worked for Scottish Enterprise since 1991.

Mr Dunlop, who steps down as the Scottish economy grapples with the fallout from coronavirus, said it was the “right time to move on”, and will leave the agency at the end of October.

However speculation continues to surround the reasons for his sudden departure from the publicly-funded organisation, which comes as tensions build between business groups and the Scottish Government over a perceived lack of consultation on restrictions brought in to suppress the rising incidence of coronavirus.

One senior Scottish business leader said: “I got the sense he was being dragged in all directions by ministers.”

Prior to succeeding Mr Dunlop, Ms Hanna had been managing director of Scottish economic development at the agency. A spokeswoman noted that she has led the organisation’s work to build economic systems to support entrepreneurs, industries and communities. Her remit includes working with industries, finance, place-making, innovation and entrepreneurship to drive growth, she added.

Ms Hanna said: “I’m thrilled to be given the opportunity to lead an organisation with committed colleagues that I know so well. I’ll give my absolute best in the time I am interim CEO, particularly at such a critical time for Scotland’s businesses and communities as we start to build Scotland’s green economic recovery.”

Scottish Enterprise chairman Lord Smith said: “Linda will provide stability and continuity for the organisation in the short term, until a permanent CEO is appointed through the full Public Appointments process being led by the Scottish Government.  

“I am confident that this is the best interim arrangement for Scottish Enterprise and its customers, providing strong and effective leadership for the period ahead. I look forward to supporting Linda as she settles into her new role.”

The chief executive post at Scottish Enterprise is one of the highest-paid public roles in Scotland.

According to the agency’s latest annual report and accounts, Mr Dunlop, the former boss of Scottish Canals, received a pay package of £211,000 for the year ended March 31, including a salary of £172,000.

Ms Hanna’s salary will be £161,600, which Scottish Enterprise said is the first step on the agreed pay range for the post.