She began her career having worked in welfare benefits' delivery and related IT systems' development in the 1980s and 1990s. In 1998 she returned from a period working on the British mainland to work with Direct Rule and Devolved Ministers as Private Secretary in Environment and Regional Development Departments. She became skilled in problem-solving, working through departmental reorganisation over devolution, and then with unique circumstances around the early period of devolution and a newly formed executive.
In 2001, Sheila moved to the legislature where she undertook a variety of roles including corporate services manager, Director of Properties and Facilities and Head of Outreach and Education. She had wide ranges of networks in her roles encouraging inward scrutiny of the parliament as an exemplar internationally in post-conflict inclusive democracy, engagement at parliamentary levels in East, West, North, South and European relations.
In 2012, Sheila was appointed Chief Executive and Town Clerk in Carrickfergus BC where she was the senior administrator delivering statutory local government services to over 40,000 citizens in a historical and culturally rich area. She has endeavoured to improve the lives and wellbeing of the community in which she has served and has worked tirelessly to create a vibrant and culturally confident area.
In April 2015, Sheila became Chairperson of the ConsumerCouncil for NI with specific statutory responsibility for consumer protection in the areas of energy, transport, postal affairs, water and sewerage, banking and general consumer affairs. She led a change in focus in the organisation to it becoming more regionally aware on the equity of distribution of services, more sophisticated in its research and analysis of the issues impacting on the areas of statutory responsibility and how markets impact on the consumer position.
From May 2015, Sheila has operated in the Executive Team in the Council for Curriculum Examination and Assessment (CCEA) to assist in driving a change and modernisation agenda. She is also currently a trustee and board member in the Community Relations Council for Northern Ireland, a director in Northern Ireland Co-operation Overseas, North Belfast Housing and Kilcreggan Homes in Carrickfergus.