Aberdeenshire has appointed an official from the Deputy Prime Minister's office to replace Hamish Vernal on his retirement as director of education and recreation.
Sohail Faruqi, aged 48, whose parents moved from India to east London when he was a baby, is currently regional director of local government practice under John Prescott. That role has involved working with councils on the integration of children's services.
Mr Faruqi began his career as a chemistry teacher in secondary schools and has been assistant director and director of education and recreation in Merseyside and Plymouth respectively.
"One of the things that attracted me to this post is the opportunity to work within the Scottish system and in a forward-looking and innovative council. In Scotland, the approach to similar issues and challenges as those faced in England has been less dogmatic, more pragmatic and has involved a greater degree of collaborative working among the key stakeholders at a local and national level," he said.
Mr Faruqi said that he and his wife Christine, a primary teacher, were looking forward to the move. "The quality of life and public services are better and the countryside in Aberdeenshire is beautiful. I am also a keen skier so it is the ideal location."