Stuart is a graduate of Edinburgh (MA Hons Geography 1986) and Glasgow Universities (PhD Town and Regional Planning 1990). He started his career with Hillier Parker, Chartered Surveyors, London 1989-90 and then was Lecturer in Land Economy at Aberdeen University 1990-96. He worked for Highlands and Islands Enterprise from 1996-2008 as Head of Economics, Director of Strengthening Communities, Chief Executive of Inverness and Nairn Enterprise, Chief Executive of Inverness and East Highland, and Director of Global Connections. In 2008 he was appointed Director of Planning and Development at Highland Council and in 2015 Director of Development and Infrastructure. In 2020 he re-joined HIE as Area Manager for Moray.
He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, an Associate of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society and a board member of the Economic Development Association (Scotland).