Davena Rankin was educated at Knightswood Secondary School in Glasgow and the University of Sussex where she graduated with a BSC (Hons) in Medicinal Chemistry. She worked as a Shop Manager for Marie Curie Cancer Care in 1995 then as a Customer Care Advisor for the TSB Bank plc from 1995 to 1996. In 1997 she carried out basic training as a Royal Naval Officer and from 1997 until 1998 she worked with the Student & Placement Entrepreneurial Graduate programme, for Nemquest Ltd at the University of Glasgow. She was a Marketing and Publicity Officer for the IBLS Commercial Liaison Office at the University of Glasgow from 1998 until 2000 and then became Commercial Manager for Research & Innovation Services and now International Policy and Governance Manager at Glasgow Caledonian University.
Davena Rankin is an active member of UNISON where she is Branch Secretary of the GCU Branch and also sits on the National Women’s Committee, National Black Members Committee and the Higher Education Service Group Executive, and chairs the Scottish Women’s Committee.