George Russell grew up near Dumbarton, the son of a farmer. Both of his parents were elders.
He studied mathematics at Cambridge in the early 1980s, following which he lived and worked in London for some 30 years. George qualified as an actuary in 1990 whilst working for an actuarial partnership, then in the mid-1990s joined the Government Actuary's Department (GAD), advising on a range of pensions policy issues. In 2002 he was elected to the Council of the Institute of Actuaries, serving on Council until 2008, and as Honorary Treasurer between 2005 and 2008. George was Deputy Government Actuary between 2009 and 2015, then returned to Scotland to head up GAD's office in Edinburgh, advising the Scottish Government and the Northern Ireland Executive on public service pension matters until his retirement in March 2022. Between 2016 and 2022 George was a member of the UK actuarial profession's Disciplinary Board.
George was ordained as an elder in 1994 at London: St Columba's by the Very Rev John McIndoe, and since then has served on a range of local/wider church groups as a member of a number of Church of Scotland/United Reformed Church congregations. He is currently a member of Dollar Parish Church, and is a director of the companies responsible for the oversight of the operation of the Kirk's guest-house in Jerusalem and hotel in Tiberias. George's appointment as an Employer Nominated Trustee was ratified by the 2023 General Assembly.