KATE Forbes has been appointed Finance Secretary at Holyrood after less than four years as an MSP.

The 29-year-old was elected in the Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch constituency in 2016, with a majority of more than 9,000.

She has since enjoyed a rapid rise and now heads up the country's finances and has positioned herself as the bookmakers' favourite to take over from Nicola Sturgeon as First Minister.

The first woman and the youngest person to be appointed to the Finance Secretary role, the Highlands native was thrust into the limelight following the shock resignation of her predecessor the night before the draft budget was due to be announced.

Forbes' performance in Holyrood was praised by opposition MSPs across the chamber.

Born in Dingwall in 1990 - also making her the first Cabinet Secretary to be born in that decade - the former public finance minister spent the first three years of her life living in India when her father moved for work, along with another stint between the ages of 10 and 15, before returning to her home town.

In 2008, Forbes was accepted to study history at Cambridge, before graduating with a masters degree in emigration and diaspora history from the University of Edinburgh.

Becoming a chartered accountant in 2013 after two years working for her local MSP Dave Thompson, Forbes went on to work with banking giant Barclays for two-and-a-half years.

Her accounting career was short-lived as she decided to seek election to the Scottish Parliament following the retirement of Mr Thompson.

Not only did she win the constituency but she more than doubled the SNP majority in an election that took the party into minority government.

According to an interview with Holyrood Magazine last year, Forbes sought to travel the length and breadth of the constituency, bringing her solution-focused approach to the problems facing the rural families she represents.

She said: "I always had a sense that more could and should be done for the Highlands and I still think that to this day in terms of services, infrastructure, support, all with that one ambition of retaining the population and reversing depopulation.

"That's really where I started to get involved with constituency politics."

It took just over two years for the chartered accountant to be appointed minister for public finance and digital economy.

She delivered her first speech in the role in the Scottish Parliament entirely in Gaelic.

A fervent advocate of the language - Forbes studied in Gaelic-medium education as a child - Forbes railed against the politicised debate around the language, which has come under attack from critics in recent years.

In the same interview, she said: "I hate the politicised nature, the people who try to politicise Gaelic ... I hate it because in my world, there are people from all parties, from all constitutional positions who use Gaelic. It's just a language of communication."