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He is Chairman of Edinburgh Business School. He is a Board member and former Chairman of Amsphere Ltd and a member of the House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology.
He spent his executive career with British Telecommunications plc, joining the Board at its inception in 1981, becoming Chief Executive in 1986 and Chairman from 1987 until 2001.
He is a former member of the Supervisory Board of Siemens AG and of the Allianz AG International Advisory Board. Until 2016 he was the chairman of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. He was vice chairman of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group from 1993 until 2005. He was chairman of the European Advisory Committee to the New York Stock Exchange between 1994 and 2004, and president of the CBI from 2000 to 2002. He was a board member of the Mobil Corporation, and served on the board of Scottish Enterprise. He is a former chairman of the Select Committee on Economic Affairs in the House of Lords.
He is a vice president and former chairman of The Princess Royal Trust for Carers. He is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Bankers in Scotland, a fellow of the London Business School, an Honorary Governor of Glasgow Academy and an Honorary Fellow of Brasenose College, Oxford. He has been awarded a number of Honorary Doctorates including a D. Eng. from Heriot-Watt University.