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Lochaber Enterprise chief executive Jackie Wright is to take on a new management role within the Highlands and Islands Enterprise network.  Mrs Wright (44) has been chosen to lead a major review which aims to modernise the ways the enterprise agency helps its business customers.

Her new post is a one-year appointment as HIE network product and process review director. She will be based primarily in Inverness and Lochaber, but will also travel to other local enterprise companies throughout the network area, which stretches from Shetland to Argyll.  A native of Edinburgh, Mrs Wright gained a BA (Hons) in economics from Newcastle University, before embarking on a 12-year career in retail management.

She has lived in Lochaber for more than 20 years and joined the local enterprise company (then called Lochaber Limited) in 1991, the year the HIE network came into being. During the 1990s, she held a succession of posts covering most aspects of the LEC's work.  She became chief executive in 1999.
Mrs Wright explained that her new post is part of a network-wide drive to ensure HIE continues to evolve and to respond to the changing needs of its customers in the 21st century.

"The economy of Scotland has changed hugely in the last decade and the pace of change is showing no sign of slowing down," she said.  "Those of us who work in economic development need to be sure we keep up to speed with change, if not one step ahead.  That's a message we're always giving to our client businesses and it applies just as much to our own organisation.   "The HIE network has done a great job in creating opportunities and driving down unemployment in most parts of the Highlands and Islands.  But we know we can't rest on our laurels.

"We need to put ourselves in our customers' shoes and ask ourselves searching questions about the kinds of products and services businesses need in order to survive and prosper in highly competitive markets.  "That's what the product and process review is all about.  "It's a great opportunity and I was delighted to be offered the challenge."

Mrs Wright will report directly to Sandy Cumming, chief executive of Highlands and Islands Enterprise, who said he was delighted with the appointment.  "This is a very demanding job which will aims to make the network smarter, faster and more responsive to its customers," said Mr Cumming.

"Jackie's not just a first-class chief executive and strategic thinker, she's used to dealing directly with customers and has a wealth of experience from both the public and private sectors.  "Our ultimate aim is to make this network more customer-focused and I'm sure Jackie is just the person to help us achieve that."

Mrs Wright expects to take up her new post at the end of April.  During her secondment, HIE will appoint an acting chief executive to take over the reins at Lochaber Enterprise.