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Executive Biographies

Dr Mike Cantlay


Dr Mike Cantlay OBE was appointed Chair of NatureScot in May 2017. He is also Chair of Highlands and Islands Airport (HIAL) Limited. Mike has over 20 years’ experience of public sector governance.

Mike is Chairman and Managing Director of William Glen Limited. He has held several public appointments including Chair of VisitScotland; Convener of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park Authority; Chair of Scottish Enterprise Forth Valley; Chair of the Board of Management at Forth Valley College; Advisory Member of the Board of Scottish Enterprise and Board Member of VisitBritain.

Mike studied at the University of Strathclyde, achieving a Bachelor of Arts in 1985 and then a Master of Business Administration in 1989. He received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Stirling in 2003 for services to tourism.

Dr Cantlay was awarded Public Sector Leader of the Year at the Scottish Leadership Awards 2012 and was made an OBE in 2014 for services to tourism. Mike was brought up in Callander, Perthshire where his family still lives and his Business is headquartered.

Francesca Osowska


Our Chief Executive, Francesca Osowska has overall responsibility for managing the organisation including oversight of delivery of our undertakings to Government and the aspirations of our Corporate Strategy, and ensuring that NatureScot operates efficiently and effectively. Francesca is the Accountable Officer for NatureScot. As such, she is responsible to the Scottish Parliament and to the Accountable Office of the responsible department for the resources under her control.

Sally Thomas

Director of People and Nature

This post is responsible for a team providing specialist technical and policy advice, in support of NatureScot's work and in advising Government.

This post oversees the work of the following Units:

  • People and Places
  • Ecosystems & Biodiversity
  • Rural Resources
  • Coastal & Marine Ecosystems
  • Planning and Renewables
  • Knowledge and Information Management

Jane Macdonald

Director of Business Services and Transformation

As Director of Business Services and Transformation, Jane leads the Portfolio Delivering a High Quality Public Service and is responsible for the activities contained within it - Asset Management, People Management, Finance Management and Corporate Governance.

Jane oversees the work of the following Units:

  • Human Resources Services (HR Support, Organisational Development and Learning and Payroll)
  • Finance Services (Financial Accounting, Business Decision Support and e-Business System Administration)
  • Business Support Services (Property, Procurement, Health & Safety, Greening, Fleet and Facilities Management)
  • Information Systems (IT Infrastructure, Systems Development and Geographic Information).

Jane's strategic responsibilities include: Service Delivery, Information Security (Jane is the organisation's Senior Information Risk Owner - SIRO), Business Continuity, Asset Management, Carbon Management (Assets) and Organisational Development & Learning. She is Lead Director for NatureScot for the Health & Safety Committee, the Health & Safety Forum, the Information Security Forum and the Business Continuity Group

Nick Halfhide

Director of Sustainable Growth

Nick is responsible for oversight of operational activity and advice provided through local offices and for the work of the Protected Places and Wildlife Operations Unit. This work includes casework, licencing, grants, local partnerships, work through Community Planning Partnerships and with local authorities and site designation and management (terrestrial sites only).

Nick oversees operations in:

  • Northern Isles & North Highland
  • South Highland
  • Argyll & Outer Hebrides
  • Tayside & Grampian
  • Forth
  • Strathclyde & Ayrshire
  • Southern Scotland