Public Appointments DVD

The previous Public Appointments Commissioner for Scotland and the Scottish Government produced a DVD about public appointments.

Making Decisions, Making a Difference


You can watch the Making a Difference DVD online at Appointed for Scotland or Youtube

Full Transcript

Speaker key

PR: Presenter
NM: Neena Mahal
AT: Andrew Thin
EN: Elaine Noad
RW: Ross Watson

PR: Have you ever wondered where we would be without our public bodies? We've all seen adverts recruiting for new board members but how many of us know what these roles are really all about? Without our public bodies we'd have no fresh drinking water, no national museums or galleries and no one controlling pollution or protecting our countryside. Health, education, the environment, the economy - these bodies play an important role in every part of Scottish life and their boards play a vital role in guiding and shaping our future. The ambulance service, CalMac ferries and Scottish Water - these are just a few of the public bodies we rely on in our everyday lives in Scotland and they need people like you to make sure that our public bodies meet the needs of the people of Scotland. Positions on the boards of these bodies are open to everyone. Any person who has the right skills and knowledge for a post can be chosen through an open application process. Diverse people - people like you.

Here's what some of them have to say.

NM: I'm Neena Mahal. I'm a non-executive director with NHS, Lanarkshire. I've always had an interest in health; I've got family connections in health and, also, family have used the health service and it was something that I was really interested in, trying to make a difference.

AT: My name is Andrew Thin. I'm Chairman of Scottish Natural Heritage and I've been in the role for just over 18 months. Scottish Natural Heritage's job is to protect and look after the wonderful scenery and countryside and wild life that Scotland has - quite unique assets that this country is very fortunate to have. The Board's job, collectively, is to understand very clearly what it is that the elected Government of the day sees as being the priorities. So, your job is an interface between the people of Scotland and the work of an organisation that the people of Scotland, of course, pay for.

EL: My name is Elaine Noad. I am a member of the Parole Board for Scotland. It's a very varied role on the Parole Board. We have to participate in prisoner tribunals, actually in the prisons, we also have to go and interview the prisoners in prison, prior to their consideration for parole and make risk assessments as to whether they are ready to be released on parole or not.

RW: My name's Ross Watson. I'm on the Board of the Cairngorms National Park authority and I have been since April 2006. It involves a formal meeting every second Friday, which starts as a planning meeting and then can go on to an informal meeting to look at various aspects of the Park authority's work. We also go into the likes of community councils and youth groups and community groups talking about the work of the Park authority and to get their feedback about what the Park authorities do.

AT: Some years ago, my wife was working full time and I was looking after the children and I saw a board position advertised on the Crofters' Commission and I thought, well, you know, I could have a shot at that. And, then, some years later I saw this one and by that stage I think I'd learned enough to feel confident in having a go at a chairmanship, so I did.

RW: I was attracted to apply to the Board because I had a lot of experience with working with young people through the likes of the Scottish Youth Parliament and youth forums and youth councils and I felt that I could bring that experience into the National Park to try and make the Park authority a more inclusive organisation.

NM: Within NHS Lanarkshire, it's a very varied board and I remember when I did put in my application a few folk said to me, but, you know, surely the type of people that apply to go on these types of boards are middle aged and tend to be men and I didn't know anybody else from an Asian background, as well, who was on a board. So, I wouldn't say it worried me but it did cross my mind that it wasn't the right type of thing for me to be doing. Would I have a chance of being accepted? But, you know, I went for it and here I am.

EN: It's rewarding at a number of levels. I actually do enjoy working with a range of people who are members of the Parole Board. I also find it very rewarding working with the prisoners. You meet them at the tribunals; you meet them when you're actually interviewing them for parole and I actually do find it rewarding to see them make progress when they're trying to address their offending behaviour.

AT: For me, the most rewarding thing is when people tell me that the organisation is doing something that they value because that's what being a public servant is all about. It's actually delivering, you know, really good services to the public.

NM: I didn't appreciate that in NHS Lanarkshire some of the decisions were going to be quite complex and made in the public eye and, although that's been challenging, it's also been, actually, quite interesting and helpful because it reminds you that you're there to serve the public interest. We've had to make a number of decisions on the board around emergency services, around investment into estates and some of those challenges and some of those decisions have not necessarily met with approval all round but then it's about recognising the wider picture and it's about trying to make decisions that are for the good of everyone.

RW: I think I personally contribute. Certainly, my experience within the work with young people and, also, with the environment and I've worked for the RSPB for nearly ten years, or over ten years now. And, so there's a lot of experience there. I've also been brought up in the area and as a local young person I think I see a unique aspect to the Park.

NM: Well, hopefully, I've got an opinion which I like people to hear what I'm saying and I think that having that kind of experience of being on boards and committees and, also, being able to make my voice heard is quite important because there are a lot of challenging issues and you do have to be able to make sure that things are debated thoroughly so I think that's quite important - being able to stand up and being counted.

EN: I think that being a woman and having a disability has probably enriched my experience of life and what I do is I bring that life experience to the role on the parole board. Certainly, it's fair to say, too, that I think it adds to the rich mix of people who're on the Parole Board, who, after all, are supposed to represent society.

RW: In my role with the Board I get quite a lot out of it. I feel I'm an awful lot more confident than I was when I first joined. I am speaking in public with large groups and the likes of planning applications, you know, the people that you're affecting, potentially, are sitting right there and listening to every word that you've got to say.

EN: I gain a lot of different experiences from being on the Parole Board in the sense that I do feel that I've got a lot of experience and skills from my time and my career in local Government that I can use. I always wanted to do something in the charity sector or something on a voluntary basis when I left local Government and I actually feel that I am giving something back.

AT: I think, probably one of the most important skills you learn in these Boards is the ability to think strategically. It's not about the detail of how many great crested newts there are in that pond, or whatever, it's about delivering enjoyment, health, better quality of places to live and it's that ability to helicopter out of the detail that I think you learn from this job and it's a terribly important thing. But, it's not something you need specialist training or skill for; it's an attitude of mind, nothing more.

NM: In NHS Lanarkshire, on the Board, we have a number of seminars that are specifically for the Board. So, if there are particular issues, because it is difficult to understand all the different health issues and the implications, then we have ample opportunity out with a formal Board meeting to discuss them, to help understand what's going on. And, then, obviously, there are training opportunities as well if there are particular things that you want to find out more about.

EN: We were offered induction when we started on the Parole Board. What that actually meant was that we shadowed another member of the Board when they did an interview, one interview. We observed a couple of Tribunals and we observed a couple of case meetings and we do have a couple of meetings a year where we're brought up to speed on policy around offender management and around changes in the legislation.

AT: All the Boards I have worked on have provided training and I think in recent years, I think that's got better and more organised and I think that's very helpful. And, certainly, any time I've asked for training, it's been forthcoming immediately; there's been never any question of that.

NM: The application process was simply like going for a job. You had to fill out an application form; I had an interview. First of all, I had to do a presentation followed by an interview. I wouldn't say it was straightforward; it was a challenging and demanding interview but, at the same time, I would say that's no different from going for any job.

RW: I suppose I had concerns about my age. I see an awful lot of other people who would be applying for it being an awful lot older and an awful lot more experienced or get a feeling that people wouldn't take me quite as seriously in the interview. But, I didn't feel that was the case.

AT: I think anybody who is interested in making their country a better place should seriously think about this. It's a great thing to do and a great thing to have done and, something that I think all the people I know who have done it have thoroughly enjoyed it and at the end of the day they felt that it was really worthwhile.

RW: When you hear of a Board or if you sit in and watch a Board it can be a very intimidating atmosphere. If you're going to go for it, really, don't let that get to you. Just be yourself and contribute what you can contribute.

EN: It's very rewarding to be on the Parole Board. It's a two way process in that I feel I'm giving of myself and my experience and skills but I also feel I'm gaining a lot in terms of the mix of people I meet with, the kind of work that I'm involved with and I just think it's a win-win situation.

NM: I've found my experience on the Board to be hugely rewarding and I think it's really important that for me, I've got out of it what I put in. I do put in a quite a bit of time and it's the right thing in terms of it's helped me grow as a person. I've made lots of new friends. It's been, actually, quite good fun and I think that's important as well. You've got to treat it seriously but actually have a lot of fun as well.

PR: If you would like to know more about the positions on the boards of public bodies, please visit our website or call us on 0800 015 8449.

Alternatively please contact us and we’ll send you a copy.