Hi I'm
Dr Mary Thomson

  • Position: Vice Principal, Skills and Lifelong Learning
  • Location: South East Scotland
  • Expertise:
    • Animal Care
    • Business Management and Finance
    • Professional Services
    • Livestock and Fishing
    • Policy

Scroll down to discover more

I lead on skills and lifelong learning at SRUC, working across education, consultancy and research and delivering excellent work-based learning pathways from senior school through to PhD level.

I work closely with sector partners to make sure SRUC delivers industry responsive, research informed courses which can improve business productivity and sustainability. I lead SRUC teams to deliver flexible accessible education and skills development – for example - developing bespoke courses and new apprenticeships to address a skills shortage or creating accredited short courses which can be ‘stacked’ to build, for example, a postgraduate diploma.

I integrate meta-skills development into education: this means SRUC learners can develop their knowledge and technical skills and – importantly - also the wider transferable skills and attributes such as self-management, social intelligence and innovation which are key for effective workplace performance.

Before joining SRUC I led the rural skills department at Borders College – developing a high performing team, growing student numbers and building strong sector partnerships.

I am a veterinary surgeon and worked as a director in rural mixed practices in Devon and Cornwall for many years - building strong businesses focussed on people and community and delivering clinical veterinary services and training to clients and veterinary teams. On leaving my practice-based role I joined government veterinary services, focussing on animal welfare and disease control work and working alongside the UK Chief Veterinary Officer during EU Exit.

My veterinary experience and networks support SRUC in building resilience for the future through delivering the veterinary skills and education required to support the vet-led team.

In my spare time I enjoy horse riding, helping neighbours in the Scottish Borders at calving and lambing time, and spending holidays sailing from the Clyde with my family, venturing as far afield as the Outer Hebrides and Northern Ireland in recent summers.

Areas of expertise and interests

  • Animal Care
  • Business Management and Finance
  • Professional Services
  • Livestock and Fishing
  • Policy

I'm currently working on

  • Apprenticeship pathways and work-based learning
  • Further Education including senior phase school courses
  • Continuing professional development, training and short courses
  • Veterinary education, skills pathways and the veterinary team
  • Skills and meta-skills
  • Fair Work First, equality, inclusion and diversity and Emily Test charter

My professional highlights

  • The first Chief of Staff to the UK Chief Veterinary Officer, supporting all policy areas during EU Exit including UK veterinary capacity, anti-microbial resistance, disease control and animal welfare.
  • Leader of an excellent further education rural skills department building a strong industry engaged team and growing student numbers.
  • Director of successful veterinary businesses with a focus on excellent staff, community and client support.
  • Lantra Trustee with a veterinary and animal health focus
  • Postgraduate Dean for the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS).
  • Action group lead for health and wellbeing for the Vet Futures joint initiative powered by the RCVS and British Veterinary Association
  • Veterinary, community and youthwork volunteering for Worldwide Veterinary Service, Vetlife and Ocean Youth Club.