‘Keep abreast of good practice,’ says the Public Sector Director of the Year 2019

Director of the Year Awards Pauline Howie

Every day in the approach to Christmas, we’ll speak to winners from the recent finals of IoD Director of the Year Awards. Today it’s Pauline Howie, chief executive of the Scottish Ambulance Service, who won the Public Sector – in partnership with Bamboo – category

After qualifying with the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy in 1990, Howie joined the NHS, where she served in a range of financial roles. She became FD of the Scottish Ambulance Service in 2000, later serving as COO and taking over as chief executive in 2009.

What inspires you the most in your job? “The people in the NHS – on the front line and in non-patient-facing roles – who relentlessly go above and beyond to do their best for others. As a leader I’m humbled daily by their diligence and compassion.”

How do you ensure good governance? “NHS Scotland has developed its own Blueprint for Good Governance, a directors’ development programme and evaluation toolkits that we can use when reviewing effectiveness and areas to improve.”

What’s the secret to building a great team? “Having a vision and objectives that are agreed by the team; ensuring that everyone takes a lead on the key priorities; spending time together in a variety of settings; and celebrating as a team.”

What’s the biggest leadership lesson you have learnt so far? “The people delivering and receiving services are the best placed to design improvements to them. The leader’s role is to create the conditions for this to happen reliably.”

What advice would you offer less experienced leaders about navigating turbulent times? “Remain true to your values, confide in those close to you and keep abreast of good practice across various sectors.”



Lorrin White, MD, Bamboo: “As a private business, it is healthy for us to see the drive, determination and commitment required to deliver on a wide-reaching personal purpose. It was an absolute honour to sponsor this award category and give recognition to the outstanding Public Sector Director of the Year.”

Entries are now open for the 2020 IoD Director of the Year Awards – click here for more info and to nominate


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