Half-day seminars

The role of the “public interest” in effective corporate governance: how public bodies can ensure it is embedded in strategy and delivery

Embedding the Public Interest seminars

How can Scotland’s public bodies make their accountability ‘real’ so that they deliver their role in improving outcomes for citizens in line with the National Performance Framework? What is the role of the “public interest” in effective corporate governance? How can public sector Boards satisfy themselves that the public interest is embedded in their organisational strategy and delivery?

Bringing together senior leaders and Board Members from across the public sector and partner agencies, this half-day training seminar will discuss what good practice in representing the public interest looks like and examine practical ways to make it happen.

Through a series of keynote addresses, case studies of good practice and role play, participants will be encouraged to explore:

  • What we actually mean by the “public interest”
  • The role of the public interest in effective corporate governance across the public sector
  • Key principles and good practice guidelines for involving and engaging with citizens, consumers and communities
  • How Board Members and senior leaders can assess the extent to which their organisation is falling short, meeting or exceeding the needs of the public it serves and what action they might take as a result.


TRISHA MCAULEY OBE, Consumer and public interest expert and Non-executive Director
VICTORIA BRUCE, Head of Public Bodies Unit, Scottish Government
DON PEEBLES, Head of CIPFA Scotland
LINDSEY MCNEILL, Director of Governance and Assurance, Scottish Police Authority
DR GEORGE COBB, Group Sustainability Accountant, Scottish and Southern Energy

Good governance means focusing on an organisation’s purpose. It involves being clear about that purpose and its intended outcomes for citizens and service users. For public bodies good governance is also about making accountability ‘real’ by delivering outcomes, for the people of Scotland, within the National Performance Framework.

Public service reform puts the public and ‘user’ interest at the heart of service delivery. With the size and scale of the challenges facing public finances, public bodies need to engage pro-actively with citizens. Indeed, several bodies have developed a statutory duty of “user focus”. High quality engagement improves the quality of decision-making, makes for best use of public money and builds trust and transparency with the public.

For service providers, engaging with their constituency or service users is more important now than ever before. But if they are to deliver lasting benefits for those citizens they need to demonstrate that they have properly identified, and engaged with, their constituency. They need to be sure that their strategy, their policies, their decisions and their delivery truly reflect the needs of those they serve.

Non-executive directors also have a key role to play – steering organisations to engage effectively with citizens, customers, consumers and communities, and challenging the executive to put the public interest at the heart of its work. But what is good practice in representing the public interest? What questions should Boards ask to satisfy themselves that their organisation has been effective in achieving this? And, how do you make accountability real?

Registration and arrival refreshments

Chair’s welcome and introduction
Victoria Bruce, Head of Public Bodies Unit, Scottish Government

The importance of the public interest in corporate governance

What is the public interest and what does it mean for effective corporate governance in the public sector in Scotland?

  • What do we actually mean by the “public interest”?
  • Getting it right: the benefits to decision-making and success
  • Ignore it at your peril: the risks of not doing it
  • Making accountability real: effective monitoring, measurement and reporting

Don Peebles, Head of CIPFA Scotland

Making a difference – practical case studies

  • Why have we prioritised the public interest in our business?
  • How have we gone about it?
  • How are we embedding it in our business?
  • What difference has it made?

Public sector: Scottish Police Authority
Lindsey McNeill, Director of Governance and Assurance, Scottish Police Authority

Private sector: Scottish and Southern Energy Power Distribution
Dr George Cobb, Group Sustainability Accountant, Scottish and Southern Energy

Opportunities for questions and discussion

Tea and coffee break, opportunities for networking

Making it happen: principles and good practice in public interest representation and engagement

Keynote Address
Trisha McAuley OBE, Consumer/public interest expert and Non-executive Director

Role-play session – ‘Identifying the public interest and embedding it in your organisation’
Trisha McAuley OBE will lead this interactive session where delegates will be divided into small groups. The session will focus on problem solving scenarios based on the practical guidance in Trisha’s keynote address. It will provide delegates with a full overview of the opportunities and the challenges facing public sector boards and leaders in identifying and addressing the public interest in organisational strategy and decision-making.

Feedback from role play session and opportunities for questions and discussion
Featuring all speakers

Chair’s closing remarks

Buffet lunch, opportunities for networking

Trisha McAuley OBE
Trisha McAuley OBE, Consumer and public interest expert and Non-executive Director
Trisha McAuley OBE is an expert in bringing the stakeholder into public and private sector thinking, and in enabling high value change and action as a result.

Current roles:

  • Non-Executive Director, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde
  • Member of the Board and the Audit Committee, Scottish Environment Protection Agency
  • Non Executive Board Member, Northern Ireland Water
  • Member, Ofgem Gas Network Innovation Competition Expert Panel, Ofgem
  • Public Interest Member of the Discipline Board, The Institute of Chartered Accountants Scotland (ICAS)
  • Director and Owner, McAuley Policy and Management Ltd

Trisha has twenty years’ experience as a successful senior leader in consumer policy, operating within Scotland and across the UK. She has a track record of high level, impactful and influential stakeholder engagement. She has worked effectively and constructively with business, public services, governments and regulators, bringing about change to the mutual benefit of consumers and business. She has played a key role in building consensus and operating in challenging, high profile stakeholder environments, enhancing and safeguarding organisational reputation.

Trisha was awarded an OBE for services to consumer affairs in the 2015 New Year’s Honours list.

Lindsey McNeill
Lindsey McNeill, Director of Governance and Assurance, Scottish Police Authority
Lindsey McNeill joined the SPA as Director of Governance and Assurance during July 2014. Lindsey has spent the last 14 years working across different organisations within the public sector, including the former Police Complaints Commissioner for Scotland. Her most recent role was as Executive Director of a small national legislative body called the Standards Commission for Scotland.

She is a qualified Chartered Manager, with a background in leadership, performance management, organisational development and governance.

Don Peebles
Don Peebles, Head of CIPFA Scotland
Don is a qualified accountant and is the Head of CIPFA Scotland based at the Institute’s Scottish HQ in Edinburgh.
Don’s background is local authority finance, having trained initially at a Scottish local authority. He also worked for Audit Scotland prior to joining CIPFA in 2002 as Policy & Technical Officer becoming Policy & Technical Manager in 2004 before becoming Head of CIPFA Scotland in November 2013.
In April 2014 Don also became CIPFA’s Head of Devolved Government and in April 2015 assumed further responsibility for CIPFA’s new Financial Management faculty.
In 2014, Don led on the Institute’s work on the Scottish referendum and that same year was appointed as the expert budget adviser to the Welsh Assembly’s Finance Committee for the 2015/16 budget process.
Don has led CIPFA’s work on local taxation in Scotland and earlier this year was appointed to the Commission on Local Tax Reform. The Commission was set up by Nicola Sturgeon MSP, First Minister, to investigate alternatives to local taxation in Scotland.
Outside of work Don is happily married with 2 grown-up sons.

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Victoria Bruce, Head of Public Bodies Unit, Scottish Government
Vikki Bruce has been Head of the Public Bodies Unit in the Scottish Government since November 2013. She has previously held posts in the Infrastructure Investment Unit, The Strategic Review of the National Trust for Scotland and the Food and Drink Industry Division. She joined the Scottish Government in January 2009.

Dr George Cobb
Dr George Cobb, Group Sustainability Accountant, Scottish and Southern Energy
Dr George Cobb CA, is the Group Sustainability Accountant at SSE Plc, a FTSE 35 company based in Perth. He currently also holds the positions of Chair of the ICAS Sustainability Committee and Vice Chair of HRH’s Accounting for Sustainability (A4S) CFO Network Capex project.

Prior to joining SSE in 2010, George completed his CA training with PwC in their Edinburgh and Aberdeen offices. After graduating with a BA in Accounting from the University of Dundee, George went on to complete an MA investigating ethical investment and the performance of the FTSE4Good indices, followed by a PhD in financial reporting. His postgraduate research has been published in both international accounting journals and non-academic publications.


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Book early to guarantee your place
Please note: Our half-day seminars emphasise engagement and interaction between participants, often including role plays and other small group work. As a result we limit the number of places available at each of the seminars and, to ensure fairness, offer these places on a first-come-first-served basis. Seminars can often become fully-booked well in advance. It is advised you register to attend as early as possible to guarantee a place at your preferred session.


Royal Pharmaceutical Society,
Holyrood Park House,
106 Holyrood Road,

Tel: 0131 556 4386


By train – From Waverley Station
Turn left on Waverley Bridge. At the roundabout, turn left onto Market Street, and turn right just after you go
under Northbridge. Cross the Canongate (Royal Mile) and turn left onto Holyrood Road. Holyrood Park House is
3 minutes walk down Holyrood Road on the right, opposite the Pizza Express.

By car – Parking
The nearest parking is either at Dynamic Earth, or at the NCP at St John’s Hill (marked on map)

Directions to and from Holyrood Park House